Judgment Deferred (1952)

|
When the legal system fails, let a court of down-and-outs decide!
|

UK / 84 minutes / bw / Associated British-Pathé Dir & Pr: John Baxter Scr: Geoffrey Orme, Walter Meade Story: screenplay for Doss House (1933) by C.G.H. Ayres Cine: Arthur Grant Cast: Hugh Sinclair, Helen Shingler, Abraham Sofaer, Leslie Dwyer, Joan Collins, Elwyn Brook Jones, Harry Locke, Marcel Poncin, Wilfrid Walter, Martin Benson, Bransby Williams, M. Martin Harvey, Harry Welchman, Maire O’Neill, Fred Griffiths, Harold Goodwin, Bud Flanagan, Edmundo Ros and His Latin American Orchestra.

A tale that shares elements with M (1931) dir Fritz Lang (remade by Joseph Losey in 1951 as M) and with Margery Allingham’s novel Tiger in the Smoke (1952), filmed as TIGER IN THE SMOKE (1956) dir Roy Baker, and owes a very great deal to the movie Doss House (1933), which was directed by John Baxter himself and whose scripter, C.G.H. Ayres, is acknowledged in the opening credits of Judgment Deferred. The narrative’s embellished with a few comic interludes (mercifully few) and some musical numbers, including a cameo by Bud Flanagan and a couple of songs from Edmundo Ros; 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

Four Just Men, The (1939)

vt The Secret Four; vt The Secret Column

UK / 82 minutes / bw / CAPAD, ABFD Dir: Walter Summers Pr: Michael Balcon Scr: Angus MacPhail, Sergei Nolbandov, Roland Pertwee Story: The Four Just Men (1905) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Ronald Neame Cast: Hugh Sinclair, Griffith Jones, Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Anna Lee, Alan Napier, Basil Sydney, Lydia Sherwood, Edward Chapman, Athole Stewart, George Merritt, Arthur Hambling, Garry Marsh, Ellaline Terriss, Percy Walsh, Roland Pertwee, Eliot Makeham, Frederick Piper, Jon Pertwee, Liam Gaffney.

Wallace’s novel was a massive bestseller in its native land, and the assumption of this movie was that viewers were at least vaguely familiar with the book’s premise: that a group of four men, working to secure justice where the cops could not, operated covertly—often taking the power of life and death into their own hands—to defend justice and the British way of life. In the novel they were essentially conspiratorial vigilantes; in the movie, made as Europe trembled on the verge of World War Two, the emphasis is more political.

In 1938 one of the Four Just Men, James Terry (Lawton), awaits execution this very morning in the German prison of Regensberg. Even as he’s being prepared for the ax, an imperious officer arrives with instructions that Terry is to be taken away for further interrogation. Sure enough, as the staff car speeds away, it’s revealed—to the surprise of no one in the audience—that the officer and his driver are two of the other Just Men, respectively distinguished stage actor Humphrey Mansfield (Sinclair) and theatrical impresario James “Jim” D. Brodie (Jones). Back in London, the three reunite with the fourth of the quartet, French couturier Léon Poiccard (Sullivan).

The Four Just Men - 1 Poiccard (Sullivan) has it easy - for now

Poiccard (Francis L. Sullivan) has it easy — but for how long?

Terry, who’s dying of emphysema or some similar illness, managed to discover at Regensberg some further details of a dastardly plot against international peace that the Just Men have been investigating. He’s promptly despatched to the Near East to make further inquiries while Continue reading