A Woman of Mystery (1958)

UK / 70 minutes / bw / Danziger, UA Dir: Ernest Morris Pr: Edward J. Danziger, Harry Lee Danziger Scr: Brian Clemens, Eldon Howard Cine: Jimmy Wilson Cast: Dermot Walsh, Hazel Court, Jennifer Jayne, Ferdy Mayne, Ernest Clark, Martin Benson, Diana Chesney, David Lander, Gordon Tanner, Paul Dickson.

Brian Clemens, later to earn a place in television history with the hugely popular series The Avengers (1961–9), was clearly popular at the Danzigers B-feature studio around the late 1950s and early 1960s. Their relevant ventures together include:

  • The DEPRAVED (1957)
  • THREE SUNDAYS TO LIVE (1957)
  • MOMENT OF INDISCRETION (1958)
  • THREE CROOKED MEN (1958)
  • The PURSUERS (1961)
  • RETURN OF A STRANGER (1961)
  • Two Wives at One Wedding (1961)

A Woman of Mystery is a fairly typical Danzigers production, although not so typical of Clemens’s screenplays. The plot lacks his trademark twists and turns and especially that slightly surreal edge that tends to mark his work. It’s a good workmanlike tale, though, and on the whole competently acted by a not insignificant cast. What lets it down are the production standards—a point I’ll come back to. Michael Caine has an uncredited bit part as a thug; no comment.

Dermot Walsh as Ray and Hazel Court as Joy.

Jane Hale (uncredited), a hatcheck girl at the Flamingo Club, seemingly gasses herself. Harvey (Clark), editor of Fact, “the magazine of private and confidential stories,” thinks her death might make a good human-interest story, and sets crack reporter Ray Savage (Walsh) the task of investigating this potential “woman of mystery.”

Jennifer Jayne as Ruby.

Needless to say, Ray’s digging reveals Jane didn’t commit suicide at all: she was murdered. After interviewing a bunch of people Continue reading

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Judgment Deferred (1952)

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

Mystery Junction (1951)

UK / 61 minutes / bw / Merton Park, Anglo-Amalgamated Dir & Scr: Michael McCarthy Pr: William H. Williams Cine: Robert LaPresle Cast: Sydney Tafler, Barbara Murray, Pat Owens (i.e., Patricia Owens), Martin Benson, Christine Silver, David Davies, Charles Irwin, Philip Dale, Pearl Cameron, John Salew, Ewen Solon, Denis Webb, Cyril Smith, Sydney Monckton, Stanley Rose.

Mystery Junction - 0 opener

Every now and then the UK’s cheapie studio Merton Park could produce a gem, and this is arguably one of them. Mystery Junction may not be a diamond or an opal, but at the very least it’s a fine piece of costume jewelry. In Sydney Tafler, Barbara Murray, Ewen Solon, Patricia Owens, Martin Benson and others it had the kind of cast that most B-movies could only dream of.

Snowy, snowy weather. Elderly spinster Miss Jessica Owens (Silver) is on the train from Pickering to Stanton and points beyond when she realizes that the man sharing her compartment is none other than Larry Gordon (Tafler), author of the thriller to which she has been glued ever since the train left Pickering two hours ago. Of course, he signs her book for her and, with that distinctive smile that authors produce when (a) the good news is that they’re being fawned on and (b) the bad news is that this is likely to be tiresome, he starts answering a few of her questions along the lines of “Where Continue reading

Dark Light, The (1951)

UK / 82 minutes / bw / Hammer, Exclusive Dir & Scr: Vernon Sewell Pr: Michael Carreras Cine: Moray Grant Cast: Albert Lieven, David Greene, Norman MacOwan, Martin Benson, Catherine Blake (i.e. Katharine Blake), Jack Stewart, Joan Carol, John Harvey, John Longden.

Yachtsman Roger (Harvey) and his wife Joan (Carol) are sailing near the Thimble Rock Lighthouse when they see that its light is dark. Going ashore with mate Stephen (Longden), they find a Mary Celeste-like situation, the place obviously having been not long abandoned, albeit in orderly fashion . . .

Flashback to the previous day, when the three-strong crew of the lighthouse—young, near-simpleminded Johnny (Greene), older, cynical Matt (Stewart) and skipper Rigby (MacOwan)—rescue the occupants of a dinghy—Mark Conway (Lieven), Linda (Blake) and Luigi (Benson)—who tell a story of their yacht having foundered. We soon find out that in fact the trio are bank robbers on the run, that under cover of fog they scuppered their escape vessel, the Egret, and that during the robbery Luigi fatally shot a cashier.

The Dark Light - 1 'Coo - one of them's a girl' says Johnny of the dinghy

“Coo — one of them’s a girl,” says sharp-eyed Johnny of the dinghy.

Skipper Rigby is adamant that the trio stay aboard until morning, when help can be sought from a passing ship, but unsurprisingly they want to be well away by then. They rope Matt in to aid them in getting to the French coast and then, when it emerges they’ll have to row the whole way, Linda uses lies and half-promises to lure Johnny into joining them. Just before they depart, unknown to the others, Luigi goes back and, after a fight, murders Continue reading