Night Caller, The (1965)

Noirish Science Fiction?

vt Blood Beast from Outer Space; vt Night Caller from Outer Space
UK / 84 minutes / bw (though there’s also a later colorized release) / New Art, Armitage, Butcher’s Dir: John Gilling Pr: Ronald Liles Scr: Jim O’Connolly Story: The Night Callers (1960) by Frank R. Crisp Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: John Saxon, Maurice Denham, Patricia Haines, Alfred Burke, Warren Mitchell, Stanley Meadows, Aubrey Morris, Ballard Berkeley, Marianne Stone, Geoffrey Lumsden, Barbara French, Anthony Wager, David Gregory, Romo Gorrara, Robert Crewdson, John Carson, Jack Watson.


Some while back I came across a reference to this as an intriguing example of a film noir/science fiction crossover. I discovered I’d bought a copy of the thing years ago but never watched it, so out I dug it. And now, finally, the watching’s been done.


Three scientists at Falsley Park Government Radio and Electronic Research Establishment—they’re just “scientists,” with no specialties itemized—are working away one night at whatever it is non-specialist scientists do that involves a lot of idle oscilloscopes when one of their number, Ann Barlow (Haines), spots something 100 miles above the ground that’s approaching the earth at high speed—over 10,000 miles per hour, in fact. Luckily it slows down, and they’re able to pinpoint where it must have landed.

The other two of the trio are the team leader, Dr. Morley (Denham), and Dr. Jack Costain (Saxon). Ann, being female, is not an out-and-out scientist like the other two. Instead she’s “our analysis expert.” And departmental typist.

Next morning the three go out onto the moors in search of the mystery object, which Ann’s oscilloscope told them must be Continue reading

Return from the Ashes (1965)

After her return from the death camps, does her unscrupulous husband want to love her . . . or kill her?

UK, US / 107 minutes / bw / Mirisch, UA Dir & Pr: J. Lee Thompson Scr: Julius Epstein Story: Le Retour des Cendres (1961) by Hubert Monteilhet Cine: Christopher Challis Cast: Maximilian Schell, Samantha Eggar, Ingrid Thulin, Herbert Lom, Talitha Pol, Vladek Sheybal, Jacques Cey, Jacques Brunius, Eugene Keeley.

Return from the Ashes - 0a

Occupying the same sort of territory as The THIRD MAN (1949), this is the first of—to date—three screen adaptations of Monteilhet’s novel. The other two are:

The latter is covered here.

Return from the Ashes - 0b

It’s the winter of the liberation of France from the loathed Nazi occupation. Aboard a train bound for Paris, a disobedient small boy, Robert (Keeley), opens the door and falls out into the night and presumably his doom. All of the passengers in the compartment are distraught, save one. The woman in the corner (Thulin) seems completely unmoved by events. The others are prepared to be critical of her until they notice the numbers tattooed on her forearm; she’s a Jewish survivor of the concentration camps, and her seeming imperturbability is born not from heartlessness but from traumatic alienation and the crude reconstructive surgery that’s been done on her face.

Arriving in Paris, she books herself into a cheap hotel under the name Julia Robert, even though, as the desk clerk (Cey) points out, according to her papers her name is Michele Wolff-Pilgrin. She tells him she wishes to hide under an assumed name for a while . . .

Return from the Ashes - 1 The Michele we first meet bears the scars of her ordeals

 The Michele we first meet (Ingrid Thulin) bears the scars of her ordeals.

Soon, in a prolonged flashback, we learn her story—and that the face she now bears is not the one she had a few years ago, before the torment of the camps and a clumsy reconstruction job after injury.

A widow, by the latter half of the 1930s she was working as a successful X-ray clinician in a Paris hospital. From her late husband she inherited a stepdaughter, Fabienne, whom she rarely saw, just shuffling her around from one English boarding school to another.

One night at her local chess club Michele ran into the impoverished would-be professional chess player Stanislas “Stan” Pilgrin (Schell), who took her for three games of chess to the tune of ninety francs. Later that night, even though she recognized he was a scoundrel, she Continue reading

Crook’s Tour (1941)

UK / 78 minutes / bw / British National, Anglo–American Dir & Pr: John Baxter Story: Crook’s Tour (1941 radio play) by John Watt, Max Kester Cine: James Wilson Cast: Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, Greta Gynt, Charles Oliver, Gordon McLeod, Abraham Sofaer, Bernard Rebel, Cyril Gardiner, Leo de Pokorny, Morris Harvey, Noel Hood.

Crook's Tour - 0 opener

Hawtrey Charters (Radford) and Sinclair Caldicott (Wayne), the two eccentric, cricket-maniacal Englishmen made famous in The Lady Vanishes (1938), appeared in a series of other movies, of which this is one; it’s adapted from a BBC radio comedy drama.

The pair are members of an escorted Middle East tour when their charabanc runs out of gas in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert. They’re at first a bit leery at the approach of a caravan of Arabs, but soon it emerges that the leader, Sheik Ramda (Oliver), went to the same English public school as Charters. The Sheik puts all the tourists and their guide up for the night, which is welcome; even so, our two heroes do have concerns, such as that Caldicott might be late for his rendezvous in Budapest with his fiancée, Charters’s sister Edith (Hood), and, far more important, that both men might miss the final (cricket) Test match between England and the Windies at Lords. Moreover, as Ramda explains to them, there are agents of a foreign power stirring discontent among the traditional Arab population.

Back in Baghdad and with some time to spare, they seek an eaterie. What they find is a joint offering Folies de Londres avec Les Girls and featuring danceuse/chanteuse La Palermo (Gynt) in La Danse d’Hibou (aka La Danse de Voiles). “Looks a bit continental, doesn’t it?” observes Charters.

Crook's Tour - 1 An eaterie in Baghdad - 'Looks a bit continental, doesn't it'

“Looks a bit continental, doesn’t it?”

By astonishing coincidence, this is precisely the dive whose cigar-smoking Nazi manager, Rossenger (McLeod), is tonight expecting two German agents to Continue reading

Frosch mit der Maske, Der (1959)

vt Face of the Frog
West Germany, Denmark / 87 minutes / bw / Constantin-Filmverleih, Rialto-Film, Preben Philipsen Dir: Harald Reinl Pr: Preben Philipsen Scr: Trygve Larsen, J. Joachim Bartsch Story: The Fellowship of the Frog (1925) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Ernst W. Kalinke Cast: Joachim Fuchsberger, Eva Anthes (i.e., Elfie von Kalckreuth), Jochen Brockmann, Karl Lange (i.e., Carl Lange), Dieter Eppler, Eva Pflug, Walter Wilz, Fritz Rasp, Erwin Strahl, Ernst W. Fürbringer, Eddi Arent, Ulrich Beiger, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Michel Hildesheim, Charlotte Scheier-Herold, Siegfried Lowitz, Werner Hedman.

An amiable piece that’s very loosely based on an Edgar Wallace classic; it has the distinction of being the first in the long series of German krimi movies based on Wallace’s work. All London lives in terror of a criminal mastermind, called The Frog because of the goggle-eyed mask he wears to keep his identity a secret even from his closest henchmen; said henchmen, of whom there are nearly three hundred, can be identified by the frog emblem indelibly stamped on their forearms, as we discover when the cops try to infiltrate one of their number, Inspector Genter (Hedman, uncredited), into the gang. Before his gruesome death, Genter was given orders to kill Ray Bennet (Wilz), wastrel son of an enigmatic, taciturn, dictatorial father, John (Lange). The hit is now put in the hands of another henchman, the knife-throwing Everett aka K33 (Beiger), who muffs it, not only throwing his knife at the wrong person but missing.

That wrong person is rich private eye Richard Gordon (Fuchsberger), the nephew of top cop Sir Archibald (Fürbringer), who happens to be supervising the cop who’s leading the hunt for The Frog, Inspector Elk (Lowitz). Richard’s attention has been caught by Ray Bennet’s sister Ella (Anthes), and he is walking with her through the woods near her home when the errant knife is hurled. Unknown as yet to either of them is that The Frog, too, has set his sights on her.

Ray is fired by his boss, Maitland (Rasp), for impertinence. His immediate superior, Philo Johnson (Brockmann), is sympathetic, and indeed it’s not too long before Ray gets another job, this time in an unspecified role at the Lolita nightclub, whose hostess, Lolita (Pflug), easily seduces him into the right state of brainlessness that he doesn’t wonder at all what’s really going on.

Frosch mit der Maske - 3 Lolita gives Ray a job interviewLolita (Eva Pflug) conducts a job interview.

Frosch mit der Maske - 4 Ray () takes the jobRay Bennet (Walter Wilz) agrees to take the job.

We soon discover the club is owned by Maitland . . . except that Maitland’s really just a figurehead for The Frog. The Frog, you see, is hoping that, by framing Ray for murder—the murder of the Lolita club’s manager, Lew Brady (Kolldehoff), in fact—he can Continue reading