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

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Case of the Frightened Lady, The (1940)

vt The Frightened Lady; vt The Scarf Murder Mystery

UK / 80 minutes / bw / Pennant, British Lion Dir: George King Pr: S.W. Smith Scr: Edward Dryhurst Story: The Case of the Frightened Lady (1931 play) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Hone Glendinning Cast: Marius Goring, Penelope Dudley Ward, Helen Haye, Felix Aylmer, George Merritt, Ronald Shiner, Patrick Barr, Roy Emerton, George Hayes, John Warwick, Elizabeth Scott, Torin Thatcher.

In a decaying country pile, Mark’s Priory, live the last of the ancient Lebanon lineage, the widowed Lady Lebanon (Haye), her pianist/composer son William “Willie”, Lord Lebanon (Goring), and the latter’s second cousin, Isla Crane (Dudley Ward), who works as Lady Lebanon’s secretary.

There are many peculiarities about the household. For one, the servants are barred from entering the main portion of the house after 8pm, at which time the two sinister footmen Gilder (Emerton) and Brooks (Hayes) take over. For another, the room in which the late Lord Lebanon spent his last years of illness and eventually died is kept permanently locked. A frequent visitor from London is the sinister physician Dr. Lester Charles Amersham (Aylmer), who seems to have some hold over Lady Lebanon and certainly has been extracting large sums of money from her. And someone has just put a bolt on the outside of the bedroom door of Isla Crane—who’s in consequence the (understandably) frightened lady of the title.

The frightened lady . . . with pursuing shadow . . .

Lady Lebanon is urgently intent that her son marry Isla pronto in order to continue the line. Unfortunately for her plans, Continue reading