Inquest (1939)

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One of the earliest Boulting Brothers movies!
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UK / 58 minutes / bw / Charter, Grand National Dir: Roy Boulting Pr: John Boulting Scr: Francis Miller, Michael Barringer Story: Inquest (1931 play) by Michael Barringer Cine: D.P. Cooper Cast: Elizabeth Allan, Herbert Lomas, Hay Petrie, Basil Cunard, Barbara Everest, Olive Sloane, Philip Friend, Harold Anstruther, Malcolm Morley, Jean Shepherd, R. Watts-Philipp, Richard Coke, Charles Stevenson, Jack Greenwood, Peter Madren.

Bucolic scenes . . . a cricket match on the village green . . . dozing dotards and their dogs . . . ruminating cows . . . the village pub . . .

And then suddenly the spell is broken as a shot rings out.

In the attic of Cove Cottage a rummaging William Trelease (Stevenson) has Continue reading

Cottage to Let (1941)

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Alastair Sim stars in a tale of spies and scares in wartime Scotland

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UK / 86 minutes / bw / Gainsborough, Gaumont, BPC Dir: Anthony Asquith Pr: Edward Black Scr: A. de Grunwald, J.O.C. Orton Story: Cottage to Let (1939 play) by Geoffrey Kerr Cine: Jack Cox Cast: Leslie Banks, Jeanne De Casalis, Carla Lehman (i.e., Carla Lehmann), Alastair Sim, John Mills, George Cole, Michael Wilding, Frank Cellier, Muriel Aked, Wally Patch, Muriel George, Hay Petrie, Catherine Lacey.

Cottage to Let - 0 opener

A somewhat lightweight spy mystery based on a play written before the full horrors were known of what was going on in Europe; it was first staged at Wyndham’s Theatre in London in 1939–40, when opinion on the war’s wisdom was still (just) up for debate in the UK. Another sign of the piece’s date is that, in the screen adaptation, a central character even pronounces the term “Nazis” incorrectly, as “Nazzies” rather than “Natzies.”

Somewhere in Tayside, Scotland, Mrs. Barrington (De Casalis) of the big house is letting out one of the estate’s cottages; the only trouble is that, in typically scatterbrained fashion, she’s agreed to rent it to more than one tenant. Miss Fernery (Aked) is expecting to billet some evacuee children from London in it; Dr. Truscott (Petrie) is expecting to use it as an emergency hospital; while the eccentric Charles Dimble (Sim) is expecting to make it a temporary home. The latter tries to remind his new landlady of this in an exchange that has “stage play” written all over it:

Dimble: “I’m Dimble.”
Mrs. Barrington: “Oh, are you? I’m so sorry.”

Cottage to Let - 2 Dimble exercises his charm on Mrs Barrington

Dimble (Alastair Sim) exercises his native charms on Mrs. Barrington (Jeanne De Casalis).

She airily offers a compromise: Dimble can have a room in the cottage, Truscott can have the rest of it for his patients, and she’ll Continue reading

Q Planes (1939)

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UK / 81 minutes / bw / Harefield, Columbia Dir: Tim Whelan Pr: Irving Asher Scr: Ian Dalrymple Story: Brock Williams, Jack Whittingham, Arthur Wimperis Cine: Harry Stradling Cast: Laurence Olivier, Valerie Hobson, Ralph Richardson, George Curzon, George Merritt, Gus McNaughton, David Tree, Sandra Storme, Hay Petrie, Frank Fox, George Butler, Gordon McLeod, John Longdon, John Laurie.

Q Planes - 0 opener

Major Charles Hammond (Richardson), of some MI5-like UK intelligence department, seems to be the only person who’s disturbed by a pattern of disappearances of test airplanes in various parts of the world, always while carrying “valuable experimental apparatus.” The UK manufacturer Barrett & Ward has already lost one plane this way; now it’s planning to launch a test flight of a plane carrying a wonderful new device called the Supercharger, which apparently can allow aircraft to go at supersonic speeds . . . well, not supersonic, exactly, but if you doubled them they’d be getting close. The company’s head, Barrett (a superbly cast Merritt)—described at one point as a “parboiled, pudding-minded myopic deadhead”—is furious that Continue reading

Night Boat to Dublin (1946)

UK / 96 minutes / bw / Trans-World, Pathe Dir: Lawrence Huntington Pr: Hamilton G. Inglis Scr: Lawrence Huntington, Robert Hall Cine: Otto Heller Cast: Robert Newton, Raymond Lovell, Guy Middleton, Muriel Pavlow, Herbert Lom, John Ruddock, Martin Miller, Brenda Bruce, Gerald Case, Julian Dallas (i.e., Scott Forbes), Leslie Dwyer, Valentine Dyall, Bruce Gordon, Marius Goring, Olga Lindo, Stuart Lindsell, Gordon McLeod, Joan Maude, Lawrence O’Madden, Hay Petrie, Wilfrid Hyde White.

Night Boat to Dublin - 0 openerIn the opening moments of this noirish spy tale we see Frederick Jannings (Goring), held prisoner in the Tower of London as a suspected Nazi spy and facing death by firing squad, being given one last chance to tell British Military Intelligence what has happened to missing Swedish scientist Dr. Hansen (Miller), whose researches into atomic weapons are making their way to the Nazis. Jannings believes Hansen is dead, which is taken by his captors as a refusal to talk; he’s Continue reading

Spy in Black, The (1939)

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UK / 79 minutes / bw / Harefield, London Film, Columbia
Dir: Michael Powell
Pr: Irving Asher, Alexander Korda (uncredited)
Scr: Emeric Pressburger, Roland Pertwee
Story: The Spy in Black (1917) by J. Storer Clouston
Cine: Bernard Browne
Cast: Conrad Veidt, Sebastian Shaw, Valerie Hobson, Marius Goring, June Duprez, Athole Stewart, Agnes Lauchlan, Helen Haye, Cyril Raymond, George Summers, Hay Petrie, Grant Sutherland, Robert Rendel, Mary Morris, Margaret Moffatt, Kenneth Warrington, Torin Thatcher.

Spy in Black - 0a opener

Spy in Black - 0b opener

In 1917 the German newspapers are full of propaganda to the effect that the country’s U-boat campaign to sink food vessels has brought Britain to the verge of starvation. U-boat commander Captain Ernst Hardt (Veidt) and his second-in-command, Lt. David Schuster (Goring), are all too well aware, though, that food shortages are just as rampant at home. No sooner have they returned to Berlin on leave than they’re sent out on a fresh mission—a secret one to the Orkney Islands, far off Scotland’s northwest tip, where the British destroyer fleet is based. There Hardt is to go ashore and make contact with the new schoolteacher at Longhope, supposedly called Anne Burnett but in fact a German spy called Fraulein Tiel (Hobson).

We see the real Anne Burnett (Duprez)—the name’s spelled Ann in a newspaper report but Anne in the credits—being abducted as Continue reading