Night Caller, The (1965)

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Noirish Science Fiction?
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vt Blood Beast from Outer Space; vt Night Caller from Outer Space
UK / 84 minutes / bw (though there’s also a later colorized release) / New Art, Armitage, Butcher’s Dir: John Gilling Pr: Ronald Liles Scr: Jim O’Connolly Story: The Night Callers (1960) by Frank R. Crisp Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: John Saxon, Maurice Denham, Patricia Haines, Alfred Burke, Warren Mitchell, Stanley Meadows, Aubrey Morris, Ballard Berkeley, Marianne Stone, Geoffrey Lumsden, Barbara French, Anthony Wager, David Gregory, Romo Gorrara, Robert Crewdson, John Carson, Jack Watson.

night-caller-0-opener

Some while back I came across a reference to this as an intriguing example of a film noir/science fiction crossover. I discovered I’d bought a copy of the thing years ago but never watched it, so out I dug it. And now, finally, the watching’s been done.

night-caller-3-somewhere

Three scientists at Falsley Park Government Radio and Electronic Research Establishment—they’re just “scientists,” with no specialties itemized—are working away one night at whatever it is non-specialist scientists do that involves a lot of idle oscilloscopes when one of their number, Ann Barlow (Haines), spots something 100 miles above the ground that’s approaching the earth at high speed—over 10,000 miles per hour, in fact. Luckily it slows down, and they’re able to pinpoint where it must have landed.

The other two of the trio are the team leader, Dr. Morley (Denham), and Dr. Jack Costain (Saxon). Ann, being female, is not an out-and-out scientist like the other two. Instead she’s “our analysis expert.” And departmental typist.

Next morning the three go out onto the moors in search of the mystery object, which Ann’s oscilloscope told them must be Continue reading

Escape from Broadmoor (1948)

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Spookitude? Noirishness? A youthful John Le Mesurier? Who could ask for more?

 

UK / 38 minutes / bw / IMP, Grand National Dir & Scr: John Gilling Pr: Harry Reynolds Cine: Cyril Bristow Cast: Victoria Hopper, John Stuart, John Le Mesurier, Frank Hawkins, Antony Doonan, Blanche Fothergill, T. Gilly Fenwick, William Douglas, A. Sawford-Dye, Elizabeth Howarth, Pat Ryan.

Escape from Broadmoor - closer

This short feature, the first in John Gilling’s directorial career, is an intriguing crossover between noirishness and the ghost story. Gilling gives it a somewhat grandiloquent opening scroll:

In presenting the first of my series of psychic mysteries, I merely relate the story of ‘ESCAPE FROM BROADMOOR’ as it was told me. I do not vouch for its truth or accuracy—I do not know if it happened at all, or if it did, whether it happened quite like this—but the story interested me. I hope it will interest you too.

John Gilling

So far as I can ascertain, and please feel free to correct me, there were no further episodes in what Gilling clearly conceived as a series.

Escape from Broadmoor - 3 Pendicost persuades Jenkins to cooperate

Pendicost John Le Mesurier) persuades his acolyte Jenkins (Antony Doonan)  to cooperate.

Ten years ago two crooks, Pendicost (Le Mesurier) and O’Gorman, raided a grand London house, Twelvetrees, the residence of Roger Trent (Hawkins). A maid interrupted them, and one of the two men shot her down. O’Gorman was hanged for the murder; Pendicost turned King’s Evidence and was instead judged criminally insane and sent to Broadmoor, the UK’s main maximum-security psychiatric unit. But three months ago Pendicost Continue reading

Double Exposure (1954)

UK / 61 minutes / bw / Kenilworth–Mid-Century, Rank Dir & Scr: John Gilling Pr: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman Story: John Roddick Cine: Monty Berman Cast: John Bentley, Rona Anderson, Garry Marsh, Alexander Gauge, Ingeborg Wells, John Horsley, Doris Hare, Eric Berry, Frank Forsythe (i.e., Frank Forsyth), Ronan O’Casey, Alan Robinson, Ryck Rydon, Sally Newton.

Double Exposure 1954 0 opener

Barbara Leyland (Anderson) is a freelance “photo background designer”: she goes around photographing scenes onto which foreground images can be placed for the purposes of advertising. (Think Photoshop, but far clunkier.) One of her clients is Clayton Advertising, where she works with a chief designer called Jones (O’Casey). The company’s owner, Denis Clayton (Gauge), described as “MD of Clayton Advertising, Chairman of Clayton Textiles, Director of Self Finance and a racehorse owner,” has a little problem, as we soon discover: his estranged wife Laura owns the bulk of his various companies, and is in the process of selling them out from under him.

That problem disappears the day—October 4—that Laura plunges to her death from her sixth-floor window in a London street called Galway Court. Accident? Suicide? The cops decide Continue reading

Man in Black (1949)

UK / 74 minutes / bw / Hammer, Exclusive Dir & Story: Francis Searle Pr: Anthony Hinds Scr: John Gilling Cine: Cedric Williams Cast: Sidney James, Betty Ann Davies, Sheila Burrell, Hazel Penwarden, Anthony Forwood, Valentine Dyall, Courtney Hope, Lawrence Baskcombe, Mollie Palmer, Gerald Case.

Man in Black 1949 - 0 opener, Dyall as MiB

Valentine Dyall is The Man in Black.

This was a Hammer-produced spinoff from the BBC radio series Appointment with Fear, which ran for ten seasons 1943–5 and then reappeared for a single season as The Man in Black in 1949. Each episode comprised a half-hour tale introduced by a character called The Man in Black—much as the character The Whistler introduced the US radio series The Whistler (1942–55) and the series of eight WHISTLER B-movies spun off from it (see the Encyclopedia for more details of these). In these original Man in Black series the “storyteller” was played by Valentine Dyall, as he is in this movie; when the radio show was resuscitated much later by the BBC, first as Fear on Four (1988–92) and then as The Man in Black (2009–11), the “storytellers” were, respectively, Edward de Souza and Mark Gatiss.

All of which background is to a certain extent irrelevant because really, aside from Dyall’s brief introduction to the tale and even briefer concluding remarks, essentially this is Continue reading

Voice of Merrill, The (1952)

vt Murder Will Out
UK / 80 minutes / bw / Tempean, Eros Dir & Scr: John Gilling Pr: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman Story: Terence Austin, Gerald Landau Cine: Monty Berman Cast: Valerie Hobson, Edward Underdown, James Robertson Justice, Henry Kendall, Garry Marsh, Daniel Wherry, Sam Kydd, Daphne Newton, Ian Fleming, Johnnie Schofield.

Voice of Merrill - 1 Jean Bridges confronted by her murdererJean Bridges (uncredited) confronted by her murderer.

The handsome building outside which this movie opens and closes is BBC Broadcasting House, in London.

Struggling mystery writer Hugh Allen (Underdown) is introduced one night at the Flamenco restaurant by his publisher, Ronald “Ronnie” Parker (Kendall), to Alycia Roach (Hobson), unhappy wife of the hugely successful, extraordinarily egotistic and thoroughly obnoxious playwright Jonathan Roach (Justice). Hugh’s date, Jean Bridges (uncredited), has stood him up; we very soon learn that she was the young woman whom we saw gunned down by a mysterious figure in the opening moments of the movie.

For Hugh and Alycia it’s quite patently love at first sight.

Voice of Merrill - 2 Alycia and Alan hear that Jean's not coming

Alycia (Valerie Hobson) and Alan (Edward Underdown) hear that Jean’s not going to join the supper party.

They’re not particularly subtle about it, and it seems that Continue reading