Once a Thief (1935)

UK / 67 minutes / bw / Ambassador Dir: George Pearson Pr: Anthony Havelock-Allan Scr: Basil Mason Story: Robert William Dargavel Cine: Francis Carver Cast: John Stuart, Derek Gorst, Frederick Culley, Nancy Burne, Lewis Shaw, Lola Duncan, Joan Kemp-Welsh, Ronald Shiner.

An enjoyable little filler that has a noirish situation at its core even though the only crime involved is distinctly white-collar in nature.

Chemist Roger Drummond (Stuart) returns to London from South Africa with the secret formula for a more efficient paint spray in his pocket alongside almost no money. The evening before a job interview he’s been offered by George Marston (Gorst), manager of leading paint manufacturer Chirwin’s, he encounters a young woman, Marion Ashley (Burne), who’s been taken ill at the wheel of her car. While Roger runs to fetch a doctor, two cops turn up and drive Marion safely home.

John Stuart as Roger.

Roger discovers he thoughtlessly pocketed Marion’s purse when she dropped it. Although he feels guilty, he borrows a few pounds from it to buy himself a new suit for the interview. The job gained, he pops the purse in the mail to the Lost Property Department at Scotland Yard, having replaced the “borrowed” money but little realizing that Continue reading

Third Time Lucky (1949)


Will his gambling addiction be the death of him?


UK / 86 minutes / bw / Alliance Anglofilm, GFD Dir: Gordon Parry Pr: Mario Zampi Scr: Gerald Butler Story: They Cracked her Glass Slipper (1941) by Gerald Butler Cine: Cedric Williams Cast: Glynis Johns, Dermot Walsh, Charles Goldner, Harcourt Williams, Yvonne Owen, Helen Haye, Edna Kaye, John Stuart, Sebastian Cabot, Ballard Berkeley, Harold Berens, Millicent Wolf, Marianne Deeming, Bruce Walker, Michael Hordern, Charles Rolfe.

Third Time Lucky - 0 opener

We start in a hospital, where young office receptionist Joan Burns (Johns) is taken by a grim-faced police escort to an office where a police inspector (Stuart) interviews her about a crime that has recently been committed. Where did she get the gun? Why did she fire it? Was it her who fired it? At first she refuses—or is perhaps too shell-shocked—to respond, but eventually the words start flowing and we enter the first of two extended flashbacks that between them constitute almost the entirety of the movie . . .

Third Time Lucky - 1 Lucky commandeers Joan's cab, C Rolfe as driver

Lucky (Dermot Walsh) commandeers Joan’s cab, The driver is played by Charles Rolfe.

Some whole ago, Joan had just caught a taxi when a young man, sprinting from a dog track, jumped aboard, claiming to be a cop. He instructed the driver (Rolfe) to do his best to escape a pursuing cab. The pursuers successfully lost, the man Continue reading

Escape from Broadmoor (1948)


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

Missing Million, The (1942)

UK / 78 minutes / bw / Signet, ABFD Dir: Phil Brandon Pr: Hugh Perceval Scr: James Seymour Story: The Missing Million (1923) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: Linden Travers, John Warwick, Patricia Hilliard, John Stuart, Ivan Brandt, Brefni O’Rorke, Charles Victor, Marie Ault, Eric Clavering, Valentine Dyall, Arthur Hambling, Albert Chevalier, Aubrey Mallalieu, Jim Donald, Cecil Bevan.

Missing Million - 0 opener

Rex Walton (Brandt) is about to marry Dora Coleman (Hilliard), daughter of treasury official Michael Coleman (O’Rorke). As he and his sister Joan (Travers) visit the Colemans’ stately London house one evening, though, Rex suddenly disappears, and a mysterious phonecall tells Joan that his life is in danger. It proves that there’s a vicious blackmailing gang on the loose, led by a master-criminal—”the prince of blackmailers”—called The Panda because of his habit of 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

Pointing Finger, The (1933)

UK / 67  minutes / bw / Real Art, Ambassador Dir & Scr: George Pearson Pr: Julius Hagen Story: The Pointing Finger (1907) by “Rita” Cine: Ernest Palmer Cast: John Stuart, A. Bromley Davenport, Leslie Perrins, Michael Hogan, D.J. Williams, Clare Greet, Henrietta Watson, Viola Keats.

At the time of the Reformation, Henry VIII took the estate of Edensore away from the Church, giving it to one of his supporters, who became the first Earl of Edensore. The abbot, murdered in his own church, died with a curse on his lips:

Seventh eighth and one before
Curst be the race of Edensore
After that and nevermore
Curst be the race of Edensore

—a rhyme that may not match the best of Tennyson but has at least the right cursely verisimilitude in being cryptic to the point of meaninglessness. Arthur, the elderly Earl of Edensore (Davenport), explains all this to his son and heir, Ronnie, Lord Rollestone (Stuart), on the eve of the latter’s departure to Africa for a big-game-hunting expedition. The Earl adds that the prophecy is generally taken to mean that the eighth Earl—in other words, Ronnie when he inherits—is going to have a tough time of it. Hanging over them in the hall is a portrait of the abbot, pointing an accusatory finger . . .

The abbot accuses . . .

Ronnie is engaged to his cousin, Lady Mary Stuart (Keats), daughter of the old Earl’s sister Lady Anne Stuart (Watson), although the two young people have a Continue reading