Date with Disaster (1957)

UK / 60 minutes / bw / Fortress, Eros Dir: Charles Saunders  Pr: Guido Coen Scr: Brock Williams Cine: Brendan Stafford Cast: Tom Drake, William Hartnell, Shirley Eaton, Maurice Kaufmann, Michael Golden, Richard Shaw, Deirdre Mayne, Charles Brodie, Peter Fontaine, Robert Robinson, John Drake, Robert Mooney, Van Boolen, Hubert Hill

A neat little piece of UK borderline noir that must have been a very welcome second feature back in the day. Indeed, it was B-features of this kind and caliber, not to mention all the EDGAR WALLACE MYSTERIES and Edgar Lustgarten’s cheesy true-crime shorts, that first made me a dedicated cinemagoer. Sad that there’s no room for such stuff in the modern multiplex.

Miles Harrington (Tom Drake) came to the UK for the love of a British girl. She dumped him cruelly but somehow he never quite went home, and now he holds a secret torch for her kid sister Sue Miller (Eaton)—as does she for him. Trouble is, Sue’s going steady with Miles’s business partner Don Redman (Kaufmann).

William Hartnell as Tracey

Shirley Eaton as Sue

Miles and Don run a used-car dealership, Highgrade Autosales, in London. While Miles himself is as straight as a die, the same can’t be said for Continue reading

Dark Tower, The (1943)

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Herbert Lom stars as the malicious mesmerist in the Big Top!
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UK / 93 minutes / bw / Warner–First National Dir: John Harlow Pr: Max Milder Scr: Brock Williams, Reginald Purdell Story: The Dark Tower (1933 play) by George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott Cine: Otto Heller Cast: Ben Lyon, Anne Crawford, David Farrar, Herbert Lom, Frederick Burtwell, Bill Hartnell (i.e., William Hartnell), Josephine Wilson, Elsie Wagstaffe (i.e., Elsie Wagstaff), J.H. Roberts, Aubrey Mallalieu, Reco Brothers’ Circus.

The Dark Tower - 0aThe Dark Tower - 0b

Phil Danton (Lyon) of Danton’s Empire Circus is in the process of announcing to the circus’s personnel that he can no longer afford to pay them when news arrives that Pasha the lion has escaped from his cage.

The Dark Tower - 3 The lion is loose!

In trying to control the beast, the lion tamer (uncredited) collapses. Luckily, though, a sinister young man, Stephen Torg (Lom), who’d been trying to find a job at the circus, steps forward and, using his mesmeric abilities, cows Pasha. Naturally Phil offers him a job (unpaid) on the spot.

The Dark Tower - 1 Drifter Torg introduces himself to 'Colonel' Wainwright

Drifter Torg (Herbert Lom) introduces himself to “Colonel” Wainwright (Frederick Burtwell).

The Dark Tower - 2 Torg immediately impresses

Torg (Herbert Lom) immediately impresses.

Phil gathers around him his trusted colleagues: his brother Tom (Farrar), who’s his partner in the circus and also the star of the flying trapeze; Miss Mary (Crawford), Tom’s partner on the trapeze and soon to be in life; and Jimmy Powers (Hartnell), the circus’s publicist. Could they perhaps employ Torg as the new lion tamer? But Phil has a far more radical idea:

Phil: What I’m trying to explain is I believe it might be possible for Torg to control Mary’s balance in the act through hypnotism.”

At the end of her act with Tom on the trapeze, Mary slides backward down a sloping wire to the ground. To keep her balance she uses Continue reading

Ringer, The (1952)

UK / 73 minutes / bw / London, British Lion Dir: Guy Hamilton Scr: Val Valentine, Lesley Storm Story: The Gaunt Stranger (1925; vt Police Work; revised vt The Ringer 1926) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Ted Scaife, John Wilcox Cast: Herbert Lom, Donald Wolfit, Mai Zetterling, Greta Gynt, William Hartnell, Dora Bryan, Norman Wooland, Denholm Elliott, Charles Victor, Walter Fitzgerald, Campbell Singer, John Stuart.

The Ringer 1952 - 4 Lom is suitably creepy as Meister

Herbert Lom, in supreme form.

Feared internationally, the crook Henry Arthur Milton, better known as The Ringer—because he could ring the changes with his disguises—finally met his end in Australia. Or did he? According to his wife Cora Ann (Gynt) he somehow escaped and has now made his way to London. That’s what the cops think too, and the slightly sinister Chief Inspector Bliss (Wooland), recently returned to Scotland Yard from a somewhat mysterious secondment in New York, is put in charge of the case. He liaises with Inspector Wembury (Victor) of the Met, whose Deptford territory includes the home of powerful criminal lawyer Maurice Meister (Lom). It’s thought that the reason The Ringer has come back to London is to seek vengeance on Meister, whom he blames for the suicide some years ago of his (The Ringer’s) sister Gwenda.

The Ringer 1952 - 2 Zetterling as Lisa Gruber

Mai Zetterling as Meister’s secretary Lisa Gruber.

Wembury enlists the aid of cheery Cockney burglar Samuel “Sam” Cuthbert Hackitt (Hartnell), who has just been released from prison; although too terrified to Continue reading