Mystery Junction (1951)

UK / 61 minutes / bw / Merton Park, Anglo-Amalgamated Dir & Scr: Michael McCarthy Pr: William H. Williams Cine: Robert LaPresle Cast: Sydney Tafler, Barbara Murray, Pat Owens (i.e., Patricia Owens), Martin Benson, Christine Silver, David Davies, Charles Irwin, Philip Dale, Pearl Cameron, John Salew, Ewen Solon, Denis Webb, Cyril Smith, Sydney Monckton, Stanley Rose.

Mystery Junction - 0 opener

Every now and then the UK’s cheapie studio Merton Park could produce a gem, and this is arguably one of them. Mystery Junction may not be a diamond or an opal, but at the very least it’s a fine piece of costume jewelry. In Sydney Tafler, Barbara Murray, Ewen Solon, Patricia Owens, Martin Benson and others it had the kind of cast that most B-movies could only dream of.

Snowy, snowy weather. Elderly spinster Miss Jessica Owens (Silver) is on the train from Pickering to Stanton and points beyond when she realizes that the man sharing her compartment is none other than Larry Gordon (Tafler), author of the thriller to which she has been glued ever since the train left Pickering two hours ago. Of course, he signs her book for her and, with that distinctive smile that authors produce when (a) the good news is that they’re being fawned on and (b) the bad news is that this is likely to be tiresome, he starts answering a few of her questions along the lines of “Where Continue reading

Highly Dangerous (1950)

UK / 89 minutes / bw / Two Cities, GFD, Rank Dir: Roy Ward Baker Pr: Antony Darnborough Scr: Eric Ambler Cine: Reginald Wyer Cast: Margaret Lockwood, Dane Clark, Bill Casey, Marius Goring, Naunton Wayne, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Eugene Deckers, Olaf Pooley, Gladys Henson, Paul Hardtmuth, Michael Hordern, Eric Pohlmann, Joan Haythorne, Anton Diffring, Anthony Newley, Ewen Solon, Michael Rittermann, Lance Secretan.

Highly Dangerous - closer

Entomologist Frances Gray (Lockwood) is asked by her boss Rawlins (Hordern) and Mr. Hedgerley (Wayne) from the Secretariat of the Imperial General Staff if she could go to an obscure Iron Curtain country to investigate the possibility that a scientist called Kassen has succeeded in breeding insecticide-resistant fruitflies that could be used as vectors for germ warfare against the West.

Highly Dangerous - 1 Mr Hedgerley recruits

Mr Hedgerley (Naunton Wayne), Frances’s recruiter.

She refuses point-blank: she’s just about to go on her hols to Torquay. Hedgerley hitches a lift from her to the station, and en route she plays the night episode of the radio serial Frank Conway, Secret Agent. It is her duty to do so nightly, so that she can tell the story to Continue reading

Crow Hollow (1952)

UK / 67 minutes / bw / Merton Park, Eros Dir: Michael McCarthy Pr: William H. Williams Scr: Vivian Milroy Story: Crow Hollow (1950) by Dorothy Eden Cine: Robert LaPresle Cast: Donald Houston, Natasha Parry, Pat Owens, Esma Cannon, Nora Nicholson, Susan Richmond, Meadows White, Melissa Stribling, Penelope Munday, Ewen Solon, Denis Webb, Georgie Henschel, Gordon Bell, Janet Barrow, Norman Claridge, Doris Yorke.

Crow Hollow - 0 opener

Within days of their meeting, Dr. Robert “Bob” Armour (Houston) has proposed to and been accepted by Ann (Parry), and they marry almost immediately. They plan to live at Crow Hollow, Bob’s ancestral pile somewhere in the Home Counties, with Bob’s three elderly aunts. First, though, the young couple go to visit an aged family friend of Bob’s, Mrs. Wilson (Barrow), who’s ailing in hospital. Briefly alone with Ann, the dying Mrs. Wilson beseeches the young woman: “Don’t let him take you to Crow Hollow!” It’s a moment of high drama that, alas, doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the plot; luckily this is one of those points that doesn’t occur to you until later.

Ignoring the old woman’s warning—because otherwise there wouldn’t be a story—Bob and Ann go to Crow Hollow as planned. The place got its name because the valley in which the house stands used to be infested by crows, whose presence was regarded as bringing ill luck to the valley’s occupants. Then, about fifty years ago, the crows suddenly departed. It takes no genius to guess that, as the tale progresses, the crows will start returning . . .

Crow Hollow - 1 Judith welcomes Ann & Bob to CH

Aunt Judith (Esma Cannon) welcomes Ann (Natasha Parry) and Bob (Donald Houston) to Crow Hollow.

Already embedded in Crow Hollow are the three aunts, sisters of Bob’s late father, all three of whom greet Ann in their different ways, though Continue reading

Rossiter Case, The (1951)

UK / 74 minutes / bw / Hammer, Exclusive Dir: Francis Searle Pr: Anthony Hinds Scr: Kenneth Hyde, John Hunter, Francis Searle Story: The Rossiters (1947 play) by Kenneth Hyde Cine: Walter Harvey Cast: Helen Shingler, Clement McCallin, Sheila Burrell, Frederick Leister, Henry Edwards, Ann Codrington, Dorothy Batley, Gabrielle Blunt, Eleanor Bryan, Ewen Solon, Robert Percival, Dennis Castle, Frederic Steger, Stanley Baker, Anthony Allen.

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Everyone is colluding to hide it from Liz Rossiter (Shingler), gravely paralyzed ever since a car accident, that her husband Peter (McCallin) is having an affair with her superbitch sister-in-law, Honor (Burrell), the widow of Peter’s brother Christopher. (Most of the time, just as Liz is called “Mrs. Peter,” Honor is called “Mrs. Christopher.”) Complicit in this conspiracy of silence are Peter’s mother, Marty (Codrington), the old family GP, Dr. John “Ben” Bendix (Edwards), the maid Alice (Blunt), Liz’s nurse Westy (Batley), and even Sir James Ferguson (Leister), the specialist called in from London by Bendix to see what if anything can be done to cure Liz; Sir James dropped by the local pub, The Oak, to ask directions and saw Peter there with Honor.

Rossiter Case - 1 Liz undergoes Sir James's medical tests

Liz (Helen Shingler) undergoes Sir James’s medical tests. Continue reading

White Trap, The (1959)

UK / 58 minutes / bw / Nat Cohen & Stuart Levy, Independent Artists, Anglo-Amalgamated Dir: Sidney Hayers Pr: Julian Wintle, Leslie Parkyn Scr: Peter Barnes Cine: Eric Cross Cast: Lee Patterson, Conrad Phillips, Ewen Solon, Michael Goodliffe, Jack Allen, Yvette Wyatt, Gillian Vaughan, Felicity Young, Trevor Maskell, Harold Siddons, Ian Colin, Helen Towers.

Paul Langley (Patterson), who served with distinction in WWII and was renowned for his daring escapes from POW camps, has been jailed for smuggling, a crime for which he’s adamant he’s innocent. He uses his old wartime skills to bust out repeatedly from prison: “There are a lot of people in this world that need things like drugs and alcohol,” he tells the prison padre (Colin). “With me it’s excitement—even danger.” But now there’s a new imperative: his wife Joan (Young) is expecting their child imminently and, bearing in mind that her own mother died giving birth to her, there are fears for her safety.

White Trap - 1 Joan in hospital, 'Promise me I'll be all right'

Joan (Felicity Young) languishes in hospital: “Promise me I’ll be all right!”

While being transferred to Dartmoor, Paul breaks free yet again. Wise old Inspector Walters (Goodliffe) reckons Continue reading