Date with Disaster (1957)

UK / 60 minutes / bw / Fortress, Eros Dir: Charles Saunders  Pr: Guido Coen Scr: Brock Williams Cine: Brendan Stafford Cast: Tom Drake, William Hartnell, Shirley Eaton, Maurice Kaufmann, Michael Golden, Richard Shaw, Deirdre Mayne, Charles Brodie, Peter Fontaine, Robert Robinson, John Drake, Robert Mooney, Van Boolen, Hubert Hill

A neat little piece of UK borderline noir that must have been a very welcome second feature back in the day. Indeed, it was B-features of this kind and caliber, not to mention all the EDGAR WALLACE MYSTERIES and Edgar Lustgarten’s cheesy true-crime shorts, that first made me a dedicated cinemagoer. Sad that there’s no room for such stuff in the modern multiplex.

Miles Harrington (Tom Drake) came to the UK for the love of a British girl. She dumped him cruelly but somehow he never quite went home, and now he holds a secret torch for her kid sister Sue Miller (Eaton)—as does she for him. Trouble is, Sue’s going steady with Miles’s business partner Don Redman (Kaufmann).

William Hartnell as Tracey

Shirley Eaton as Sue

Miles and Don run a used-car dealership, Highgrade Autosales, in London. While Miles himself is as straight as a die, the same can’t be said for Continue reading

Operation Diplomat (1953)

UK / 68 minutes / bw / Nettlefold, Butcher’s Dir: John Guillermin Pr: Ernest G. Roy Scr: A.R. Rawlinson, John Guillermin Story: Operation Diplomat (1952 TV series) by Francis Durbridge Cine: Gerald Gibbs Cast: Guy Rolfe, Lisa Daniely, Patricia Dainton, Sydney Tafler, Ballard Berkeley, Anton Diffring, Michael Golden, James Raglan, Avice Landone, Brian Worth, Eric Berry, Edward Dain, Alexis Chesnakov, Ann Bennett, Jean Hardwicke, William Franklyn, Desmond Llewelyn, Derek Aylward.

Operation Diplomat - 0 opener

Mark Fenton (Rolfe), a surgeon at St. Matthew’s Hospital in London, is strolling along the Thames one evening when a nurse (uncredited; possibly Jean Hardwicke) leaps out of an ambulance to tell him to come quickly: there’s an urgent case he must attend to. Implausibly—but this is a Francis Durbridge tale—he agrees to climb into the back of the ambulance with her, finding not a patient but a sinister, gun-toting man called Wade (Tafler). Wade tells him they must drive a distance to where the patient is, but declines to yield up any more information.

Operation Diplomat - 1a Fenton is walking by the Thames when . . .

Fenton (Guy Rolfe) is walking by the Thames when . . .

Operation Diplomat - 1b. . . a pretty nurse leaps from an ambulance and urges him to come with her

. . . a pretty nurse (uncredited; possibly Jean Hardwicke) leaps from an ambulance and urges him to come with her.

Hours later they arrive at a mansion. Aided by a doctor who’s been struck off the Medical Register, Edward Schröder (Diffring), by the nurse we’ve already met and by a nurse with swoony eyes, Fenton operates on the man, whom we’ll discover before too long is missing diplomat Sir Oliver Peters (Raglan), Chairman of Western Defence. Afterwards, Wade gives Fenton a tumbler of Scotch, which he Continue reading

Send for Paul Temple (1946)

vt The Green Finger
UK / 84 minutes / bw / Butcher’s Dir & Pr: John Argyle Scr: John Argyle, Francis Durbridge Story: Send for Paul Temple (1938 radio play) by Francis Durbridge Cine: Geoffrey Faithfull Cast: Anthony Hulme, Joy Shelton, Tamara Desni, Jack Raine, Beatrice Varley, Hylton Allen, Maire O’Neill, Michael Golden, Richard Shayne, Edward V. Robson, Phil Ray, Leslie Weston, Olive Sloane, H. Victor Weske, Norman Pierce, Melville Crawford, Charles Wade.

Send for Paul Temple - 0 opener

A gang of jewelry robbers is terrorizing the English Midlands, and its members aren’t afraid to kill anyone who gets in the way. The only clue the cops have comes from the dying words of a night watchman: “The Green Finger.”

Bestselling mystery novelist Paul Temple (Hulme) is visited at his country home near Evesham by his old friend Chief Inspector Gerald Harvey (Crawford), but almost immediately Harvey is shot down in one of the local pubs, The Little General. The landlord, Horace Daley (Ray), insists the death must have been a suicide, and when the local physician, Dr. Milton (Allen), arrives he seems to agree. The only other person who might cast some light on the subject is the pub’s solitary resident guest, the middle-aged Miss Amelia Marchment (Varley). Her hobby, it emerges, is the history of old English inns, and she announces that The Little General is in fact a far more ancient inn than is generally realized . . . and that it was originally called The Green Finger!

Send for Paul Temple - 2 Miss Marchment and crooked publican Daley

The seemingly ingeuous Miss Marchment (the splendid Beatrice Varley) and the crooked publican Horace Daley (Phil Ray).

Steve Trent (Shelton), a journalist on one of the London newspapers, has been running a campaign along the lines that, since Scotland Yard is bamboozled by the gang, the cops should “send for Paul Temple”—although quite why the Yard should think a Continue reading