Q Planes (1939)

vt Clouds Over Europe
UK / 81 minutes / bw / Harefield, Columbia Dir: Tim Whelan Pr: Irving Asher Scr: Ian Dalrymple Story: Brock Williams, Jack Whittingham, Arthur Wimperis Cine: Harry Stradling Cast: Laurence Olivier, Valerie Hobson, Ralph Richardson, George Curzon, George Merritt, Gus McNaughton, David Tree, Sandra Storme, Hay Petrie, Frank Fox, George Butler, Gordon McLeod, John Longdon, John Laurie.

Q Planes - 0 opener

Major Charles Hammond (Richardson), of some MI5-like UK intelligence department, seems to be the only person who’s disturbed by a pattern of disappearances of test airplanes in various parts of the world, always while carrying “valuable experimental apparatus.” The UK manufacturer Barrett & Ward has already lost one plane this way; now it’s planning to launch a test flight of a plane carrying a wonderful new device called the Supercharger, which apparently can allow aircraft to go at supersonic speeds . . . well, not supersonic, exactly, but if you doubled them they’d be getting close. The company’s head, Barrett (a superbly cast Merritt)—described at one point as a “parboiled, pudding-minded myopic deadhead”—is furious that Continue reading

Voice of Merrill, The (1952)

vt Murder Will Out
UK / 80 minutes / bw / Tempean, Eros Dir & Scr: John Gilling Pr: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman Story: Terence Austin, Gerald Landau Cine: Monty Berman Cast: Valerie Hobson, Edward Underdown, James Robertson Justice, Henry Kendall, Garry Marsh, Daniel Wherry, Sam Kydd, Daphne Newton, Ian Fleming, Johnnie Schofield.

Voice of Merrill - 1 Jean Bridges confronted by her murdererJean Bridges (uncredited) confronted by her murderer.

The handsome building outside which this movie opens and closes is BBC Broadcasting House, in London.

Struggling mystery writer Hugh Allen (Underdown) is introduced one night at the Flamenco restaurant by his publisher, Ronald “Ronnie” Parker (Kendall), to Alycia Roach (Hobson), unhappy wife of the hugely successful, extraordinarily egotistic and thoroughly obnoxious playwright Jonathan Roach (Justice). Hugh’s date, Jean Bridges (uncredited), has stood him up; we very soon learn that she was the young woman whom we saw gunned down by a mysterious figure in the opening moments of the movie.

For Hugh and Alycia it’s quite patently love at first sight.

Voice of Merrill - 2 Alycia and Alan hear that Jean's not coming

Alycia (Valerie Hobson) and Alan (Edward Underdown) hear that Jean’s not going to join the supper party.

They’re not particularly subtle about it, and it seems that Continue reading

Spy in Black, The (1939)

vt U-Boat 29
UK / 79 minutes / bw / Harefield, London Film, Columbia
Dir: Michael Powell
Pr: Irving Asher, Alexander Korda (uncredited)
Scr: Emeric Pressburger, Roland Pertwee
Story: The Spy in Black (1917) by J. Storer Clouston
Cine: Bernard Browne
Cast: Conrad Veidt, Sebastian Shaw, Valerie Hobson, Marius Goring, June Duprez, Athole Stewart, Agnes Lauchlan, Helen Haye, Cyril Raymond, George Summers, Hay Petrie, Grant Sutherland, Robert Rendel, Mary Morris, Margaret Moffatt, Kenneth Warrington, Torin Thatcher.

Spy in Black - 0a opener

Spy in Black - 0b opener

In 1917 the German newspapers are full of propaganda to the effect that the country’s U-boat campaign to sink food vessels has brought Britain to the verge of starvation. U-boat commander Captain Ernst Hardt (Veidt) and his second-in-command, Lt. David Schuster (Goring), are all too well aware, though, that food shortages are just as rampant at home. No sooner have they returned to Berlin on leave than they’re sent out on a fresh mission—a secret one to the Orkney Islands, far off Scotland’s northwest tip, where the British destroyer fleet is based. There Hardt is to go ashore and make contact with the new schoolteacher at Longhope, supposedly called Anne Burnett but in fact a German spy called Fraulein Tiel (Hobson).

We see the real Anne Burnett (Duprez)—the name’s spelled Ann in a newspaper report but Anne in the credits—being abducted as Continue reading