Seven Thunders (1957)

|
A serial killer in German-occupied Marseilles!
|

vt The Beasts of Marseilles
UK / 96 minutes / bw / Dial, Rank Dir: Hugo Fregonese Pr: Daniel M. Angel Scr: John Baines Story: Seven Thunders (1955) by Rupert Croft-Cooke Cine: John Wilkie Cooper Cast: Stephen Boyd, James Robertson Justice, Kathleen Harrison, Tony Wright, Anna Gaylor, Eugene Deckers, Rosalie Crutchley, Katherine Kath, James Kenney, Anton Diffring, Denis Shaw, George Coulouris, Marcel Pagliero, Gaylord Cavallaro, Leonard Sachs, Martin Miller, Carl Duering, June Cowell, Andreas Malandrinos, Edric Connor, Peter Augustine.

I don’t usually post on a Monday, but today is, according to Aurora and others, National Classic Movie Day (twitterpatable at #NationalClassicMovieDay). So, ever one to leap aboard a passing bandwagon, I bring you this . . .

Seven Thunders - 0 opener

In the book of Revelation, Chapter Ten, there’s reference to seven thunders that “utter their voices”; the title of this movie, then—or more accurately the title of its source novel—refers to matters apocalyptic, and sure enough there’s a small-scale apocalypse served up toward the end when the Germans move in to raze the Old Quarter/Old Port region of Marseilles.

It’s 1943 and the trawlerman Salvatore (Pagliero), a Jean Gabin type with a crusty exterior but a heart of gold, brings to the Old Port slum of Marseilles two escaped British prisoners of war, Dave (Boyd) and Jim (Wright), so they can hide out until a passage can be arranged for them to England.

Seven Thunders - 1 The fisherman Salvatore is a stalwart of the Resistance

The fisherman Salvatore (Marcel Pagliero) is a stalwart of the Resistance.

Very soon they encounter, in the apartment block where they’re hiding, Lise (Gaylor), an orphaned young woman who’s using her wits, among other things, to survive the Nazi Occupation. The first encounters aren’t promising: Dave accidentally Continue reading

Latin Quarter (1945)

vt Frenzy
UK / 71 minutes / bw / British National, Anglo–American Dir & Scr: Vernon Sewell Pr: Louis H. Jackson Story: L’Angoisse (n.d. play) by Pierre Mills and C. Vylars Cine: Günther Krampf Cast: Derrick De Marney, Joan Greenwood, Frederick Valk, Joan Seton, Beresford Egan, Lilly Kann, Martin Miller, Valentine Dyall, Anthony Hawtrey, Bruce Winston, Kempinski, Espinosa, Margaret Clarke, Rachel Brodbrar, Sybille Binder.

Latin Quarter - 0 opener

The second of no fewer than four versions that Sewell made of a Grand Guignol play whose title translates as The Anguish. His other three adaptations—all of which differ quite a lot—were The Medium (1934), Ghost Ship (1952) and House of Mystery (1961). All are supernatural thrillers; this one has in addition many aspects reminiscent of historical noir. There’s a sort of quotation of the movie’s premise in Claude Chabrol’s much later POULET AU VINAIGRE (1984; vt Cop au Vin).

Paris, the Left Bank, 1893. Sculptor Charles Garrie (De Marney, who also served as Associate Director) has moved into the old studio of his erstwhile rival Anton Minetti (Egan) and, for enigmatic reasons, has insisted that everything be left exactly as it is—to the annoyance of his model and girlfriend Lucille Lindbeck (Seton). The concierge, Maria (Kann), barely dare step inside the place, for time and again she hears the pipe organ playing when there’s no one there but herself. (What’s an artist’s studio without a pipe organ, after all?) Although Charles publicly pooh-poohs Maria’s accounts, he too has had spooky experiences in the studio, such as the lamp that inexplicably flickers and dies every 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

Violent Moment (1959)

vt Rebound
UK / 61 minutes / bw / Independent Artists, Anglo–Amalgamated Dir: Sidney Hayers Pr: Bernard Coote Scr: Peter Barnes Story: “A Toy for Jiffy” (1956; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine) by Roy Vickers Cine: Phil Grindrod Cast: Lyndon Brook, Jane Hylton, Jill Browne, John Paul, Rupert Davies, Moira Redmond, Bruce Seton, Martin Miller, Frederick Piper, Martin Boddey, Gerald Anderson, John Boxer, Leonard White.

Violent Moment - 0 moodsetter

London, soon after the end of WWII, and wastrel Douglas “Doug” Baines (Brook) is wary of the coppers on every corner because he’s an Army deserter. He makes his way as best he can, helping to support his mistress, Daisy Hacker (Hylton), and their infant son Jiffy on what we suspect are generally slim pickings. One day, though, he’s obviously flush because he spends 15/6 (15 shillings and sixpence)—a small fortune in those days—at the toyshop of Jenkins (Piper) on a cackling tumbler-doll clown for Jiffy, upon whom he obviously dotes; indeed, we sense that Doug is really defined by his love for Jiffy. When he gets home, though, it’s to discover that Daisy has sold the child into adoption for twenty pounds. She’s scathing in her estimation of Doug:

“Twenty pound. I suppose you’ll want your cut.”

 And:

“And another thing. You pretending to believe that I got all that money working as a waitress. You’ve got eyes in your head the same as other men. You know perfectly well where that money came from.”

 

Violent Moment - 1 Doug, Daisy & the tumbler doll

Doug (Lyndon Brook) shows Daisy (Jane Hylton) the toy he’s bought for Jiffy.

As he tries to force out of her the name and address of the adoptive parents so he might Continue reading

Mark of the Phoenix (1958)

UK / 62 minutes / bw / Butcher’s Dir: Maclean Rogers Pr: W.G. Chalmers Scr: Norman Hudis Story: The Phoenix Sings (1955) by Desmond Cory Cine: Geoffrey Faithfull Cast: Julia Arnall, Sheldon Lawrence, Anton Diffring, Eric Pohlmann, George Margo, Michael Peake, Martin Miller, Bernard Rebel, Roger Delgado, Frederick Schreicker.

In Belgium, the scientist Van de Velde (Schreicker) has developed a marvelous alloy that is impervious to nuclear radiation. His lab is invaded by the crooks Emilson (Margo), Koos (Peake) and Fyodor Vachek (Rebel); Koos shoots Van de Velde dead and the trio escape with a small container of the alloy in liquid form. They take the alloy to the Brussels jeweler Brunet (Miller) and demand that he “turn the alloy into metal”—a puzzling request, since the alloy obviously already is metal; they appear to be asking him to transform it from liquid to solid. (Since the alloy is elsewhere described as “atomic” we sense that science was not scripter Hudis’s strong point.) That solid should take the form of a cigarette case in a design that Brunet has been making for sale in his shop. The process complete, they ask him to electroplate the case in silver. The scheme, we’re soon told, is smuggle this sample of the alloy behind the Iron Curtain, where a government customer is prepared to pay $1 million for it.

Meanwhile there arrives in Brussels the international jewel thief Chuck Martin (Lawrence). He calls with the proceeds of his latest heist on his old fence, who just happens to be the jeweler Brunet. Vachek, who clearly has an agenda of his own, engineers the transfer of his own suite at the Plaza Hotel to Chuck, then places the cigarette case inside it. (It’s not 100% clear why he does this, but it serves to get Chuck involved in the plot.)

Chuck calls on shady gem collector Maurice Duser (Pohlmann) with a necklace that he held back from the consignment he gave to Brunet. Duser buys this as a gift for his fiancée, Petra Charrier (Arnall). During the transaction, Duser sees and recognizes the cigarette case Chuck is using; he sends Emilson to Chuck’s hotel room to steal it, but Chuck wins the ensuing punchup . . .

Schell (Anton Diffring) takes Petra (Julia Arnall) into his confidence.

And so this meanders amiably along. Brunet is knocked off by Koos when Duser fears the old man knows too much. Trying to find out why the cigarette case is such a hot property, Chuck manages with ease to break into Brunet’s shop (apparently there’s no alarm system) and Duser’s safe (apparently there’s again no alarm system). Later Koos—a sort of walking lesson in why stupid people shouldn’t be given guns—shoots dead Vachek before Duser and Emilson have learned the information they’ve been trying to torture out of him. Petra dumps Duser with an excellent line—”If I ever want a second-hand ring and you want a second-hand girl, let’s get together”—and her interests are clearly drifting toward Chuck instead. The able Belgian policeman Inspector Schell (Diffring) is hot in pursuit of the bad guys, assisted by police scientist Gavron (Delgado), who speaks the kind of language that B-movie boffins speak: “It is a certainty that Van de Velde had discovered a metal completely unaffected by radioactivity!”

The moronic, trigger-happy Koos (Michael Peake) kills Vachek (Bernard Rebel) just to show he can.

In addition to the scientific puzzlers, there are various other places where you sense that, if Continue reading