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

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

Floating Dutchman, The (1952)

UK / 76 minutes / bw / Merton Park Dir & Scr: Vernon Sewell Pr: William H. Williams Story: The Floating Dutchman (1950) by Nicolas Bentley Cine: Jo(sef) Ambor Cast: Dermot Walsh, Sydney Tafler, Mary Germaine, Guy Verney, Hugh Morton, Nicolas Bentley, Arnold Marlé, Derek Blomfield, Ian Wilson, James Raglan, Orest Olaff, Ken Midwood.

Floating Dutchman - 0 opener

One never expected masterpieces from Merton Park, but their cut-price fillers did have their charms—they offered an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so even if they tended to be forgotten within minutes of the A-feature starting. The movies in the long EDGAR WALLACE MYSTERIES series (1960–64) were typical of the studio’s output; even at the time it was the series’ theme tune (written by Michael Carr) that really stuck in the mind, far less so the movies themselves. The Floating Dutchman is one of the better Merton Park offerings, and benefits from having the under-recognized Sydney Tafler in a principal role, plus Arnold Marlé and Ian Wilson among the support. And it’s certainly more memorable than many a Merton Park item: I must have been a child when I last saw the movie, because I can remember being devastated by a particular incident toward the end, yet the very fact that, decades later, I could remember this and occasional other incidents—and the performances of Marlé and Wilson—is testament in itself.

Floating Dutchman - 4 Victor

The great Sydney Tafler as club owner and criminal kingpin Victor Skinner.

A body is fished out of the Thames. The cops, as we learn when Inspector Cathie (Morton) briefs his boss, Gwynn (Raglan), swiftly discover that the man died from a bash on the head, not from drowning, and, thanks to an inquiry from the Dutch police, that he was a shady jeweler called Martinus Vandermeer. On the body was a card from the nightclub Skinner’s, with, scrawled on the back, the telephone number of notorious fence Otto Krohner (Marlé). By following up on this link, Cathie believes, the Yard might Continue reading