After Dark (1933)

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Cattermole-Brompton by name, Cattermole-Brompton by nature!
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UK / 44 minutes / bw / Fox British Pictures Dir & Pr: Albert Parker Scr: R.J. Davis, J. Jefferson Farjeon Story: After Dark (1932 play) by J. Jefferson Farjeon Cine: Geoffrey Faithfull Cast: Horace Hodges, Hugh Williams, George Barraud, Ian Fleming, Gretha Hansen, Henry Oscar, Pollie Emery, Arthur Padbury.

The name that stands out in the credits of this short feature, aside from that of the versatile cinematographer, is J. Jefferson Farjeon, the prolific Golden Age crime novelist and playwright who returned to the limelight in 2014 when the British Library reissue of his 1937 novel Mystery in White became a surprise Christmas bestseller. Continue reading

Calendar, The (1948)

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An Edgar Wallace yarn about a man addicted to the geegees . . . and to the curves of Greta Gynt!

UK / 77 minutes / bw / Gainsborough, GFD Dir: Arthur Crabtree Pr: Antony Darnborough, Sydney Box Scr: Geoffrey Kerr Story: The Calendar (1929 play) and The Calendar (1930), both by Edgar Wallace Cine: Reg Wyer, Cyril J. Knowles Cast: Greta Gynt, John McCallum, Raymond Lovell, Sonia Holm, Leslie Dwyer, Charles Victor, Felix Aylmer, Noel Howlett, Sydney King, Barry Jones, Diana Dors, Claude Bailey, Desmond Roberts, Fred Payne.

The Calendar - 0 opener

A modest but rather jolly screen adaptation of one of Edgar Wallace’s plays, which he subsequently rewrote as a novel. In fact, this wasn’t the first adaptation; it was preceded by The Calendar (1931; vt Bachelor’s Folly) dir T. Hayes Hunter, with Herbert Marshall, Edna Best and Anne Grey, which I haven’t seen. This, the 1948 remake, while in theory a thriller has in practice many of the attributes of a bedroom farce, although it’s not really a comedy either: just a piece of entertainment.

Captain Garry Anson (McCallum), a compulsive better on the ponies, owns a string of racers; his trainer is the lovely Lady Mollie Panniford (Holm), who, as a woman, is a rarity in the male-dominated horse-training world of the time. “What you mean is that, as a girlfriend, I’m a pretty good trainer,” she observes ruefully to him at one stage. The reason for the rue is that he’s besotted with Wenda (Gynt), to whom he’s been engaged for many a yonk. Then the news comes that the will of his recently deceased aunt has brought him Continue reading

Crook’s Tour (1941)

UK / 78 minutes / bw / British National, Anglo–American Dir & Pr: John Baxter Story: Crook’s Tour (1941 radio play) by John Watt, Max Kester Cine: James Wilson Cast: Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, Greta Gynt, Charles Oliver, Gordon McLeod, Abraham Sofaer, Bernard Rebel, Cyril Gardiner, Leo de Pokorny, Morris Harvey, Noel Hood.

Crook's Tour - 0 opener

Hawtrey Charters (Radford) and Sinclair Caldicott (Wayne), the two eccentric, cricket-maniacal Englishmen made famous in The Lady Vanishes (1938), appeared in a series of other movies, of which this is one; it’s adapted from a BBC radio comedy drama.

The pair are members of an escorted Middle East tour when their charabanc runs out of gas in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert. They’re at first a bit leery at the approach of a caravan of Arabs, but soon it emerges that the leader, Sheik Ramda (Oliver), went to the same English public school as Charters. The Sheik puts all the tourists and their guide up for the night, which is welcome; even so, our two heroes do have concerns, such as that Caldicott might be late for his rendezvous in Budapest with his fiancée, Charters’s sister Edith (Hood), and, far more important, that both men might miss the final (cricket) Test match between England and the Windies at Lords. Moreover, as Ramda explains to them, there are agents of a foreign power stirring discontent among the traditional Arab population.

Back in Baghdad and with some time to spare, they seek an eaterie. What they find is a joint offering Folies de Londres avec Les Girls and featuring danceuse/chanteuse La Palermo (Gynt) in La Danse d’Hibou (aka La Danse de Voiles). “Looks a bit continental, doesn’t it?” observes Charters.

Crook's Tour - 1 An eaterie in Baghdad - 'Looks a bit continental, doesn't it'

“Looks a bit continental, doesn’t it?”

By astonishing coincidence, this is precisely the dive whose cigar-smoking Nazi manager, Rossenger (McLeod), is tonight expecting two German agents to Continue reading

Ringer, The (1952)

UK / 73 minutes / bw / London, British Lion Dir: Guy Hamilton Scr: Val Valentine, Lesley Storm Story: The Gaunt Stranger (1925; vt Police Work; revised vt The Ringer 1926) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Ted Scaife, John Wilcox Cast: Herbert Lom, Donald Wolfit, Mai Zetterling, Greta Gynt, William Hartnell, Dora Bryan, Norman Wooland, Denholm Elliott, Charles Victor, Walter Fitzgerald, Campbell Singer, John Stuart.

The Ringer 1952 - 4 Lom is suitably creepy as Meister

Herbert Lom, in supreme form.

Feared internationally, the crook Henry Arthur Milton, better known as The Ringer—because he could ring the changes with his disguises—finally met his end in Australia. Or did he? According to his wife Cora Ann (Gynt) he somehow escaped and has now made his way to London. That’s what the cops think too, and the slightly sinister Chief Inspector Bliss (Wooland), recently returned to Scotland Yard from a somewhat mysterious secondment in New York, is put in charge of the case. He liaises with Inspector Wembury (Victor) of the Met, whose Deptford territory includes the home of powerful criminal lawyer Maurice Meister (Lom). It’s thought that the reason The Ringer has come back to London is to seek vengeance on Meister, whom he blames for the suicide some years ago of his (The Ringer’s) sister Gwenda.

The Ringer 1952 - 2 Zetterling as Lisa Gruber

Mai Zetterling as Meister’s secretary Lisa Gruber.

Wembury enlists the aid of cheery Cockney burglar Samuel “Sam” Cuthbert Hackitt (Hartnell), who has just been released from prison; although too terrified to Continue reading

Three Steps in the Dark (1953)

UK / 63 minutes / bw / Corsair, Associated British–Pathe Dir: Daniel Birt Pr: Harold Richmond Scr: Brock Williams Story: Roger East Cine: Hone Glendining Cast: Greta Gynt, Hugh Sinclair, Nicholas Hannen, John Van Eyssen, Sarah Lawson, Elwyn Brook-Jones, Helene Cordet, Alastair Hunter, Katie Johnson, Alan Robinson, Neil Hallett, Raymond Young.

Years ago cantankerous Arnold Burgoyne (Hannen) quarreled with his two brothers, and the family wound was never healed. Now he summons his brothers’ grown-up children—plus his lawyer, E.M. Wilbraham (Brook-Jones)—to his stately home, Clarendon, to tell them of the latest changes he plans for his will.

Three Steps in the Dark - 1 Riddle, Sophy, Arnold

Katie “Ladykillers” Johnson as timid housekeeper Mrs. Riddle and Nicholas Hannen as stroppy victim-to-be Arnold Burgoyne bracket Greta Gynt as well known crime novelist Sophy Burgoyne.

His niece Sophia “Sophy” (Gynt) has made her way in the world as a successful mystery novelist, and has no need of his money. His elder nephew, Philip (Sinclair), inherited the adjoining Burgoyne family estate, Morton Curlew, where he lives with his wife Dorothy “Dotty” (Lawson) and breeds racehorses. Arnold’s younger nephew, the broke and diffident Henry (Van Eyssen), is planning to marry a French stage actress, Esmé Robert (Cordet), who joins the party.

Three Steps in the Dark - 2 Dotty, Philip, Henry

More members of the dysfunctional family gathering: Sarah Lawson as Dotty Burgoyne, Hugh Sinclair (seated) as her husband Philip, and John Van Eyssen as her brother-in-law Henry.

It has been Arnold’s intention to leave Clarendon to Henry, but Continue reading

Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The (1939)

UK / 83 minutes / bw / D and P, G&S, GFD Dir: Thorold Dickinson Pr: Josef Somlo Scr: Thorold Dickinson, Alan Hyman, Patrick Kirwan, Donald Bull Story: Leonard Reginald Gribble Cine: Desmond Dickinson Cast: Leslie Banks, Greta Gynt, Ian McLean, Liane Linden, Anthony Bushell, Esmond Knight, Brian Worth, Richard Norris, Wyndham Goldie, Alastair MacIntyre, George Allison, Tom Whittaker, E.V.H. Emmett, Bruce Winston, Maire O’Neill.

Arsenal Stadium Mystery - 0 in rear, a sign of the times

On the wall behind, a sign of the times.

On the eve of World War II, Arsenal—the UK’s champion professional football/soccer club (and a giant of football history)—mounts a friendly charity match against gifted amateur side the Trojans, who have been scalping quite a few of the major professional teams. Most of the then Arsenal side have minor roles, and all of them play during the on-field extracts. (In those of the extracts where the opposition seems competent, the opposing team was in fact Brentford Football Club, playing against Arsenal for real in a league match.) George Allison, then the team’s manager, has a fairly central role (as himself), and for the most part fulfills it more than adequately; Tom Whittaker, the club’s trainer, and the soccer commentator E.V.H. Emmett likewise play themselves in non-negligible roles.

 

Arsenal Stadium Mystery - 1 Gwen Lee and Jack Doyce

Gwen Lee (Greta Gynt) wants to end her fair with heartless lothario Jack Doyce (Anthony Bushell).

At half-time Doyce receives a small, anonymous, gift-wrapped packet, which proves to contain Continue reading