My Death is a Mockery (1952)

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Hanged for a lamb?
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UK / 65 minutes / bw / David Dent, Adelphi Dir: Tony Young Pr: David Dent Scr: Douglas Baber Cine: Phil Grindrod Cast: Donald Houston, Kathleen Byron, Bill Kerr, Edward Leslie, Liam Gaffney, Kenneth Henry, Felix Felton, Sheila McCormack, Christopher Quest, Michael Voysey, Vincent Holman, Meadows White, Christmas Grose.

An extremely neat little movie, obviously made on a very tight budget, that uses its small cast, simple plot and limited resources to excellent effect. It’s linked tangentially to a celebrated real-life murder (or was it?) case that played a major role in the United Kingdom’s eventual abolition of the death penalty.

Donald Houston as John Bradley.

John Bradley (Houston) served during WWII in the Royal Navy and continues his love affair with the sea by running a trawler with his wife Helen (Byron) and crew Jim (Grose) and Stan (uncredited). However, the business is failing fast and, having laid off the two crew members, he heads to London to try to Continue reading

Third Visitor, The (1951)

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A twisty mystery with a tremendous finale!
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UK / 85 minutes / bw / Merton Park, Elvey-Gartside, Eros Dir: Maurice Elvey Pr: Ernest Gartside Scr: Gerald Anstruther, David Evans Story: The Third Visitor (1950 play) by Gerald Anstruther Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: Sonia Dresdel, Guy Middleton, Hubert Gregg, Colin Gordon, Karel Stepanek, Eleanor Summerfield, John Slater, Michael Martin Harvey, Cyril Smith.

Third Visitor - 0 opener

Adapted from a successful West End play, this is an example of quite how well the postwar UK moviemakers could craft their entertainments using the minimal resources available to them.

Obviously done on a budget, The Third Visitor nevertheless absolutely satisfies its remit, which is to keep us engrossed for an hour and a half or so. The plot’s as twisty as that of the average modern neonoir, and some of the volte-faces are genuinely surprising. Only once or twice do we become aware of Continue reading

Two Wives at One Wedding (1961)

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No, it’s not an Ealing comedy as the title might suggest. Instead it’s a Brian Clemens thriller, with many of his usual quirks.
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UK / 64 minutes / bw / Danziger, Paramount Dir: Montgomery Tully Pr: Edward J. Danziger, Harry Lee Danziger Scr: Brian Clemens, Eldon Howard Cine: Bert Mason Cast: Gordon Jackson, Christina Gregg, Lisa Daniely, André Maranne, Humphrey Lestocq, Viola Keats, Douglas Ives, John Serret, Annette Carell, Steve Plytas, Gertan Klauber, Michael Anthony, Julian Sherrier, Andre Charisse.

Two Wives at One Wedding - 0 opener

Rising physician Tom Murray (Jackson) is celebrating his marriage to Christine “Chris” Ervine (Gregg) when an unexpected guest arrives at the reception: Annette Montand (Daniely), whom Tom knew during his time as an ambulance driver in Normandy during the war. Once they’re alone she drops her bombshell: Tom married her in France and, even though the event is lost to the weeks of amnesia he suffered after being shot up in August 1944 by the Gestapo, she has a marriage certificate and other evidence to prove it:

Annette: “It was not a gay ceremony. Continue reading

Killer Walks, A (1952)

UK / 55 minutes / bw / Leontine, Grand National Dir & Pr & Scr: Ronald Drake Story: Gathering Storm (1948 play) by Gordon Glennon, itself based on Envy My Simplicity (1943) by Reyner Barton Cine: Jack Asher, Phil Grindrod Cast: Susan Shaw, Laurence Harvey, Trader Faulkner, Laurence Naismith, Sheila Shand Gibbs, Ethel Edwards, Valentine Dunn, Madge Brindley, John Ainsworth.

Killer Walks - 0a opener

On a farm somewhere in England lives the malfunctioning Hardlestone family. Head of it is the intimidating Gran Elizabeth Hardlestone (Edwards), an elderly termagant who frostily admits a soft spot only for her GP, Doctor James (Naismith), and for her younger grandson, Frankie (Faulkner).

So far as Gran’s concerned, Frankie seems to be doing all the right things: he’s fallen in love with lovely local farmer’s daughter Brenda (Shand Gibbs), he has a great way with the animals—even including the bull Trigger, whom no one else can handle—and, if he happens to be a bit of a simpleton, so far as Gran’s concerned that’s a commendable trait as well.

Killer Walks - 1 Brenda and her mum watch Frankie save a cow

Brenda (Sheila Shand Gibbs) and her mum (Valentine Dunn) watch Frankie (Trader Faulkner) save a cow.

On the other hand, she worries a lot about her older grandson, Ned (Harvey). He has a history of violent behavior toward the Continue reading

Out of the Shadow (1961)

vt Murder on the Campus
UK / 60 minutes / bw / Border, New Realm Dir & Scr: Michael Winner Pr: Negus Fancey Cine: Richard Bayley Cast: Terence Longden (i.e., Terence Longdon), Donald Gray, Dermot Walsh, Robertson Hare, Diane Clare, Felicity Young, Edwin Styles, Douglas Muir, Jill Hyem, Max Faulkner, Tony Thawnton, Laura Thurlow, Geoffrey Ryan, Ann Sharp, Harold Siddons, Mark Eden, William Ingham, Bill Mitchell.

Out of the Shadow - 0 opener

The third feature movie of Michael Winner’s long and highly prolific directorial career, this potboiler rarely rises above the mediocre. Its opening credits even manage to misspell the name of its leading man (Longden for Longdon); in fact, there isn’t a proper cast list.* The best one can say of the movie is that it reads rather like one of Merton Park’s lesser and more hurried offerings (in fact, it was made at Marylebone Studios); however, like the Merton Park pieces, it somehow manages—despite its stodgy directing and often very flat, uninspired acting—to be quite pleasing to watch.

Journalist Mark Kingston (Longdon) was out of the country when, two weeks ago, his younger brother Tony (uncredited), an undergraduate at the fictional Leicester College, Cambridge, fell from his high rooms in the college into the river Cam, and died. The coroner returned an open verdict; the cops believe it was either accident or suicide, and have closed their investigation. Of course, Mark doesn’t believe one word of that, so as soon as he’s checked in with his boss, Jimmy (Siddons), at the news agency, he heads for Cambridge, booking a room at the Regent Hotel and making a general pest of himself.

Out of the Shadow - 1 Tony Kingston interrupts the killer

Tony Kingston (uncredited) interrupts the killer (Douglas Muir).

A couple of the students at the college tell Mark they did see a man walking on the roof the night that Tony died. Mark learns this when Continue reading

Double Exposure (1954)

UK / 61 minutes / bw / Kenilworth–Mid-Century, Rank Dir & Scr: John Gilling Pr: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman Story: John Roddick Cine: Monty Berman Cast: John Bentley, Rona Anderson, Garry Marsh, Alexander Gauge, Ingeborg Wells, John Horsley, Doris Hare, Eric Berry, Frank Forsythe (i.e., Frank Forsyth), Ronan O’Casey, Alan Robinson, Ryck Rydon, Sally Newton.

Double Exposure 1954 0 opener

Barbara Leyland (Anderson) is a freelance “photo background designer”: she goes around photographing scenes onto which foreground images can be placed for the purposes of advertising. (Think Photoshop, but far clunkier.) One of her clients is Clayton Advertising, where she works with a chief designer called Jones (O’Casey). The company’s owner, Denis Clayton (Gauge), described as “MD of Clayton Advertising, Chairman of Clayton Textiles, Director of Self Finance and a racehorse owner,” has a little problem, as we soon discover: his estranged wife Laura owns the bulk of his various companies, and is in the process of selling them out from under him.

That problem disappears the day—October 4—that Laura plunges to her death from her sixth-floor window in a London street called Galway Court. Accident? Suicide? The cops decide Continue reading

Silent Dust (1949)

UK / 82 minutes / bw / ABPC, Independent Sovereign, Pathé Dir: Lance Comfort Pr: Nat A. Bronsten Scr: Michael Pertwee Story: The Paragon (1948 play) by Roland Pertwee and Michael Pertwee Cine: Wilkie Cooper Cast: Sally Gray, Stephen Murray, Derek Farr, Nigel Patrick, Beatrice Campbell, Seymour Hicks, Marie Lohr, Yvonne Owen, Maria Var, James Hayter, George Woodbridge, Edgar Norfolk, Irene Handl.

Silent Dust - 0 opener

It’s a few years after the end of WWII, and Robert Rawley (Murray), a self-made millionaire (or thereabouts), cannot get over the fact that his beloved son by his first marriage, Simon, was one of those who never came back from the Front. Now he’s building a new cricket pavilion in the nearby village to commemorate Simon—even though his bumbling aristocratic neighbor, Lord Harry Clandon (Hicks), urges him to alter the dedication to honor not just Simon but all of the local men who died in the war, as does Robert’s second wife, Joan (Campbell), née Cummings,

Robert: Man can’t live with the dead.
Joan: No. But how hard you try.

Robert is a man whose snarl is very much worse than his bite. We see this essential goodheartedness in an early sequence when he’s informed by the foreman of the team working on the pavilion, Sugden (Woodbridge), that one of the laborers has fallen off the construction, damaging both the weathercock and himself. Robert rants about the lad’s stupidity and clumsiness and the fact that the broken weathercock might delay the Grand Opening, but at the same time he slips Sugden a hefty contribution to any medical expenses the culprit might have—more than enough to cover them all, if we’re to judge by Sugden’s expression.

Silent Dust - 1 Robert listens for what he cannot see

The blind but undaunted Robert (Stephen Murray).

We first become aware that Robert’s blind when he trips over the tricycle that Clandon, who has come to visit, left at the steps of the mansion. Since we’ve earlier seen the Rawleys arrive home in a luxury car, it’s very clear how Continue reading

Hideout, The (1956)

The Hideout 1956 - 0b other opener

UK / 55 minutes / bw / Major, Rank Dir: Peter Graham Scott Pr: John Temple-Smith Scr: Kenneth Hayles Cine: Brendan J. Stafford Cast: Dermot Walsh, Rona Anderson, Ronald Howard, Sam Kydd, Howard Lang, Edwin Richfield, Arnold Diamond, Trevor Reid, Richard Shaw, Tommy Clegg, Jessica Cairns, Frank Hawkins, Jack Taylor, Angela Krefeld.

The Hideout 1956 - 0a opener

A modest piece of UK noir with a convoluted plot that seems to make reasonable sense at the time but becomes harder to follow the more you think about it later.

At the Rex Hotel in London, a valise that was being carried by Helen Grant (Anderson) is accidentally put into the taxi that’s going to take Pan–Atlantic Insurance special investigator Steve Curry (Walsh) to the airport for his New York flight. Steve doesn’t discover the error until he’s at the airport; luckily Tim Bowers (Kydd), whom he’s recently helped out of a jam, came along to see him off, so can take the case back into town and try to track down the woman who lost it. In so doing, Tim finds the case is full of cash: £8,000, in fact—a very great deal, in 1956.

The Hideout 1956 - 1 Sam Kydd has a more major role than usual, hurrahSam Kydd as Tim Powers; those rare occasions when Kydd gets a more major role are always good news.

At the airport, Steve is abducted by some thugs, who attempt to beat out of him the location of the valise. He escapes, makes it back to Tim’s apartment, and learns the truth. The inside lid of the case bears a label with the name and address of one Robert Grant. Steve goes there and recognizes Continue reading

Scarlet Web, The (1954)

UK / 63 minutes / bw / Fortress, Eros Dir: Charles Saunders Pr: Frank Bevis Scr: Doreen Montgomery Cine: Hone Glendining Cast: Griffith Jones, Hazel Court, Zena Marshall, Robert Perceval, Molly Raynor, Ronald Stevens, John Fitzgerald, Stuart Douglass, Robert Moore, Gail Kendal, David Stoll, Michael Balfour, Katie Stuart, Judith Nelmes, Leo Phillips.

Scarlet Web - 1 Jake Winter emerges from prison

“Jack Warren” (Griffith Jones) emerges from prison.

When he’s released from jail after a three-month stretch for breaking and entering, Jack Warren (Jones) finds a beautiful stranger (Marshall) waiting for him. She offers him a lift to London and he accepts. En route she tells him that she’s been searching for a thief to recover a letter that’s being used to blackmail her husband, financial consultant Charles Dexter (Perceval).

What she doesn’t know is that “Jack Warren” is really insurance investigator Jake Winter, and that the time he spent inside was in pursuit of a case. What he doesn’t know is that she’s not Mrs. Dexter; we eventually learn she’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