Email me (David Moore) . . . . . DINOSAUR FILMS - The Page that Reviews Old British B Films
Films from: 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 . Merton Park New Elstree Southall Studios site

My Star * Rating is based on my own taste, NOT great acting! 10 is brilliant, 4 is average, 0 is truly dreadful.

John Montgomery offered his personal Film Awards for 1962:

Most co-operative independent casting manager: Maude Spector
Most Courteous Stars: Roger Moore, Richard Attenborough
Most Efficient Studio Publicity: ABP
Most Active Agents: Bernard Hunter, Terry Owen (Leading Players Ltd)
Most Consistent Employer of new faces: Jack Greenwood (Merton Park)
Most Helpful Producing Team: Monty Berman and Robert Baker
Most Co-operative producers: Lewis Gilbert, Maurice Cowan, Peter Rogers, John I Phillips
Most Co-operative Studio Publicist: Brian Doyle (Hammer Films)
Best Studio Set: Peter Woods for the ship set on Horatio Hornblower (Collier Young Associates, Elstree)
Best British Picture of the Year: Billy Budd, Lawrence of Arabia, and Don't Talk To Strange Men

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ADVENTURE IN THE HOPFIELDS (1954, directed by John Guillermin, 4*) - The Hop Dog was a wedding gift for Mrs Quin, "you'd think that dog was alive," so loved is it. But when daughter Jenny (Mandy Miller) accidentally smashes it, she runs away, joining the London exodus for a week hop picking in Kent. Apparently you could earn twelve pounds in a good week, enough to pay for the dog's repair. Jenny joins her friend Susie with her six siblings and harrassed mum Mrs Harris (Dandy Nichols). But Jenny gets detached from them and ends up all alone on Goudhurst station. She's befriended by Sam (the underrated Harold Lang) who helps her write home. Unfortunately the envelope is blotted with ink and is never received. In search of the Harris family, a hungry Jenny helps herself to an apple, and is chased by two young roughs, Ned (Melvyn Hayes) and Pat. She hides in a disused mill, before a happy day on the morrow picking hops, lots of jolly fun. The Goudhurst policeman starts the long search among the hop pickers for her. But she is in the village where she sees a duplicate of the smashed dog, and Sam kindly lends her the forty five bob for it. "Jenny's been arrested!" is the cry, but it's not as bad as that. The kindly bobby has found her and promises to phone her parents with the good news. So Jenny is able to enjoy one last day, which happens to be the wedding of Laura and Bill (Edward Judd uncredited). But while they are away Ned and Pat steal the dog, and in torrential rain the lads taunt Jenny running away with it to the mill. Amazing the dog doesn't get broken. She retrieves it but is accidentally trapped inside the mill. Lightning strikes and the mill is on fire! It's an effectively frightening scene. Ned makes amends and saves her and even goes back to bring back the dog still intact, before reverting to type and soaking everyone with a fireman's hose. Reunited with her parents, Jenny is happy

AUNT CLARA (1954, directed by Anthony Kimmins, Shepperton Studios, 4*) - The 80th birthday of Uncle Simon will be his last, most of his greedy relatives hope. It is, and he shocks them by leaving his estate to Clara (Margaret Rutherford). She inherits his 'man' Henry (Ronald Shiner), his greyhound, his pub, and other reprobate enterprises. Henry is a vital help in her "sacred trust," as she visits the hostelry, the idea being to contrast her sheltered living and the bawdy lifestyle. It doesn't come off though as the story unwinds, she is much more liberal than Henry expects, indeed she evens calls him "starchy." It's only the natural whimsy Miss Rutherford exudes that keeps the film afloat as she goes to the races, the dogs, and finally a house of tarts. Yet she somehow achieves the reforms her late uncle clearly desired

THE BLACK GLOVE aka FACE THE MUSIC (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 5*)- Top American trumpeter Brad (Alex Nicol) makes music with Maxine but then lands in big trouble when she's done in. A clue is a record made by Maxine accompanied by famous Jeff Colt, though he claims he never made this disc. Was the real pianist Johnny (Paul Carpenter)? The track had been cut at the Maida Vale studio of Maurie Green (Geoffrey Keen) though he denies any knowledge of these artists. Lots of moody jazz music and sets that even in the bright like of day look dark and sinister. A typical line, might be any aspiring film noir, is Brad's description of the wily Maurie, "he could hear a pound note hit a plush carpet a mile away"

BLACK RIDER (1954, directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 6*) - A host of fine character actors gives this film a happy mix of drama and a little humour, with Leslie Dwyer as the irascible newspaper editor Charlie, Jimmy Hanley and Rona Anderson as Jerry and Mary in love, Lionel Jeffries as the smooth foreigner Brenner, a crook of course, and with Edie Morton as, as ever, an elderly lady. Local legend has it that the Black Monk, the devil himself, rides at full moon, and George (Kenneth Connor) has seen him. Foreign spies are using the story as cover to smuggle in parts of an atomic sabotage weapon, being assembled in a castle dungeon. In the best tradition of amateur sleuths, Jerry encourages his girl Mary to look round Brenner's mansion. What's she looking for, she asks him. "Anything suspicious." When she finds that something, she is kidnapped. Charlie however can't believe anything is wrong with Brenner, though Jerry's mum is more perceptive, even though her reasoning is a little illogical: "I don't like his hat." Jerry's motorcycle gang rescue Mary and put paid to the thankfully undefined evil plans of the foreigners

BURNT EVIDENCE (1954, directed by Daniel Birt, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*) - Financial difficulties for Jack who's "no businessman," being "too soft." Duncan Lamont plays him with his usual sympathy, and he needs it with his wife Diana (Jane Hylton) playing around with Jimmy (Donald Gray). Jack, she has in her hands like putty- "if ever I'm going to run away, I'll give you plenty of warning." In his workshop, Jack has it out with Jimmy and accidentally the place is burned to the ground. The tension builds as we await identification of the charred body inside. Diana identifies it as Jack- but is she lying? Since Donald Gray had only one arm, one would have thought the answer should be obvious. However the police take their time about it. Meredith Edwards gives a nice performance as the new inspector, aided with his usual dry wit by Cyril Smith. In fact, the early dialogue in this Ted Willis script is often wooden, though it improves as the film goes on. And it's Irene Handl who has the best part of Caroline, with her ultra-posh accent.

CHILDREN GALORE (1954, Brighton Studios, directed by Terence Fisher, 3*) - Must have been a team of men producing this study of a village where the family with the most grandchildren by a set date will win a new house. Whilst the men take it all in their stride, the gossipy women have most of the best lines and all the bitchiness: "all women's queer, one way or t'other." Sadly there's not much fun to be read in the faces of the cast and it's all too starchy and lacking any humour, black or otherwise, a sort of Whisky Galore without any of the spirit

CONFLICT OF WINGS (1954, directed by John Eldridge, Beaconsfield Studio, 4*)- What rotter is buying The Island of Children? No less than the RAF to make it a firing range. Apparently the birds here are the souls of Roman children, so of course we have the old tussle of the locals pitted against authority, though it could hardly be called Conflict. Both sides are depicted, even handedly. An eel catcher put there by Henry VIII nearly decides the issue, then it's all down to this seagull sacrificing his Roman life. Finally the locals stage a sit in, on the lines of a very mini Dunkirk. "You might have been killed." The message seems to be that the little man can win

DANGEROUS CARGO (1954, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - Tim Matthews (Jack Watling) works as a security guard, happily married to Janie (Susan Stephen). When bumps into old POW buddy Harry (Terence Alexander), I thought this might become a love triangle, instead this is a standard thriller. Harry is bent, and when honest Tim sinks into a betting debt the way is open for him to be blackmailed into assisting the gang rob the gold bullion that Tim transports. The naive central character is sympathetically well drawn, though more improbable is Luigi with his dark glasses played by John le Mesurier, "I don't take very kindly to you... you dirty little rat." Rough stuff and the kidnapping of Janie force Tim to sign up to the crime, but he informs the police, who are ready and waiting for the heist. Of course Tim joins in the fracas, getting injured for his troubles

DELAYED ACTION (1954, directed by John Harlow, Alliance Studios, 4*)- An American deadbeat (Robert Ayres), about to commit suicide, is offered a strange bargain by suave Mark: Mark wants to buy the man's corpse! The scheme is that Mark takes on an alter ego, name of Ned Collins, the main interest in the film is why Mark wants him to do so. Ned starts building up a business empire, but his own plans change when he rescues a stranger from a car crash, and such an attractive stranger (June Thorburn) that they fall in love. She helps him complete his first novel and marriage is in the air before she finds out Ned's involved in something so shady he can't tell her about it. Now it's the time that Mark wants Ned to kill himself, as per their bargain. Alan Wheatley as Mark makes his usual enigmatic villain, and almost makes this film, along with his underling in crime Sellers (Bruce Seton) but the plot is never entirely convincing. Not one of Robert Baker and Monty Berman's finest productions

DEVIL'S POINT (1954, directed by Montgomery Tully, 1*)- Insurance investigator Michael Mallard (Donald Houston) suspects the smuggling of medical supplies from ships is down to someone with inside information. The owner of the cargo boat Pretty Lady, John Martin (Richard Arlen) stumbles on one of these packages. The thieves spend the film attempting to retrieve it, making for a lethargic if not soporific plot, continuity not always smooth, the central character nothing to admire. Mallard sets a trap and Martin, perceiving at last the suignificance of the box plays a mysterious hiding game with it. The pair join forces and the car and foot chase round East India Docks raises the eyelids for a moment

TO DOROTHY A SON 1954, directed by Muriel Box, National Film Studios Boreham Wood, 3*) - Another adaption of a stage play that never hides its origins and is nothing if not frustrating. The story of Dorothy (Peggy Cummins) who is hourly expecting, her first child that is. She spends her whole time in bed, not really a great acting opportunity for an aspiring actress. She's married to the unfortunate Tony, a struggling song writer, who is due to inherit a two million dollar fortune, if only she will give birth to a son by a set time. Standing in their way of the dough, is the brash Myrtle, a successful singer (Shelley Winters), Tony's former wife, and standing in the way of any comedy is the over demanding Dorothy who has Tony running in all directions to satisfy her every whim. You sympathise with Tony who takes it all on the chin, for love of his wife, no doubt. John Gregson as the harassed husband was a fine actor but not really adept at comedy and though he raised one laugh, Joan Hickson as Ethel the barmaid managed two in her two brief scenes, and Joan Sims as a gossipy telephonist and Charles Hawtrey as a hotel porter also helped the fun, while Wilfred Hyde White added his usual British charm as the solicitor calmly sorting out the crisis. What crisis? Tony and Myrtle vie with each other in a complicated exchange about the exact time of birth, a tangled argument about the international date line etc etc that Myrtle cannot comprehend, nor did I quite understand how the distribution of that inheritance was decided, but I can say it all ended happily ever after, at least for the participants if not the audience

EIGHT WITNESSES (1954, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Bavaria Filmkunst, 2*) - An escaped Commie Professor Hildebrand has escaped from behind the Iron Curtain and is reunited with his daughter Helen (Peggy Ann Garner) in an institute for the blind. He is stabbed by Commies in front of the inmates, but as all are blind, Intelligence Officer Allan (Dennis Price) is going to have a tough job finding the killer. This could have been quite a novel starting point for a whodunnit, though some of the characters' reactions, like Helen seeing her dead father, are unconvincing, and the film's continuity is decidedly shaky, and some music quite inappropriate, as the plot simplifies itself into a search for the prof's missing piece of paper. I think someone finds it

THE EMBEZZLER (1954, directed by John Gilling, Alliance Studios, 3*)- The main snag with this film is it can't decide if it's a light comedy, or a light thriller. Dull Henry is dominated by his lazy wife and decides to "get out of a rut" and help himself to cash from his employers, the Western Bank. His plan to live it up in Cannes fails when the 2pm train he is to catch is being watched by police, so he ends up in Eastbourne, at the Eastcote Hotel, where the guests are "half dead." Not an improvement on his old life, until one Alec Johnson, spiv (Cyril Chamberlain) starts blackmailing a young guest (Zena Marshall), wife of Dr Forrest (Michael Craig). Kind Henry pays up, but of course Johnson demands more. Ironic that Henry is warning another guest, elderly Miss Ackroyd (Avic Landon) not to trust Johnson with her pearl necklace, whilst Johnson is now threatening to expose Henry's true identity. At a happy party for orphan children, Henry tries to poison the blackmailer

FAST AND LOOSE (1954 directed by Gordon Parry, Pinewood Studios, 6*)- Brian Reece is ideal as dithery Peter, somehow separated at the station from his new bride Barbara, whose mother (Fabia Drake) is the original battleaxe. Her downtrodden father (Stanley Holloway) must sort Peter out, who's grabbed a car to catch up with Barbara's train, but he's kindly giving a lift to old friend Carol (Kay Kendall). Oh dear, the car's had an accident, they'll have to stay at a rural inn, run by a second battleaxe, Mrs Gullett (Joan Young), and of course they have to pretend to be married and have to share a room... it's all perfectly innocent "to any decent minded person." All the usual elements of farce are here in Ben Travers fine script. Most memorable of the cameos is Reginald Beckwith as the effusive vicar, who most memorably gives Fabia Drake a pillion ride on his motorbike

FINAL APPOINTMENT (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Mike Billings of the Sunday Star (John Bentley) plays his typical reporter in raincoat. Has he stumbled on a scoop, the link between three unsolved murders? All killed on successive July 10ths, and all served on a wartime court martial tribunal. He can guess who might be killed this coming Saturday, July 10th, the final member of the group, Hartnell, a solicitor. Inspector Corcoran does the legwork, while Mike dates Hartnell's secretary Miss Laura Robins, "just business." Hartnell himself is unconcerned about his possible demise, but he should be. The cunning George Martin is out for revenge, but nearly meets his own end in the shape of a blackmailer who is also on to his evil scheme. An average crime thriller, but with a nice touch of humour. Producer: Francis Searle

THE GAY DOG (1954, Riverside Studios, directed by Maurice Elvey, 5*) - Raving Beauty- "the world is run for her benefit," an odds-on favourite at t'Northern greyhound racetracks. A couple of romances and plenty of subterfuge before t' big race--- and a fortune. But as the vicar reminds us: "the love of money" etc etc so the winnings have to go to charity! Those were the days of morality! "I don't know which is worse, you or the dog." The film has some nice comic moments in this portrait of an obsession, for example unsung Noel Dyson in particular provides some lovely touches. Watch her asleep after introducing a First Aid Lecture. Lots of other nostalgic scenes at Whist Drives, and even down Coal Mines. "Oh that blessed dog!"

GOLDEN IVORY (1954, directed by George Breakston, 0*)- John Benley stars as John, who with his brother Jim (Robert Urquhart) are on the trail of a fortune which dead hunter Johnny has put them on to. They are vying for the affections of a girl (Susan Stephen) who considering she has spent all her life in the country is remarkably pale. A series of disjointed episodes are mixed in with snakes, lions etc, the colour photography is hardly compensation. "There's nothing in the world I want more," except perhaps for this piffle to finish. Before that can happen, we have confrontation with the Masai who all apparently understand the white man's (possibly forked) tongue

GREAT DAY (1954, directed by Lance Comfort, D&P Studios, 3*)- In the war, Denley WI prepares for the visit of the US President's wife, "a great day for Denley." There are moments of philosophy on freedom among the multiplicity of character studies in this rural idyll, but too many people means the main theme is neglected, indeed lost. One main family is featured, ex army dreamer John and his hardworking wife Elizabeth. There's "a terrible rumpus," their land girl daughter's proposed marriage, and one moving scene with Flora Robson, as John contemplates suicide. But this is ruined by the line, "daddy you are naughty!" The great day does finally dawn if you care

THE HARASSED HERO (1954 directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 3*) - Hypochondriacs are always good comedy fodder, here it's one Selwyn (Guy Middleton), who despite being ordered complete rest, runs into too much excitement when he stumbles across a briefcase full of forged banknotes. The crooks, led by Logan (the commanding presence of Elwyn Brook-Jones) want their printing plates back, and they have a long and occasionally amusing chase after them. With Selwyn cured, thanks to a romance with his Nurse Brooks, there's drama as she is kidnapped by Logan, "unless he gives me the plates, he's never going to see you again." But of course, Selwyn does. The best cameo is from Joss Ambler as a laughing forgetful doctor

IMPULSE (1954 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Charles du Latour - probably in reality Cy Enfield, 6*)- Is Sussex estate agent Alan Curtis in a rut? Not when he picks up a stranded (female of course) motorist, Lila (Constance Smith), who's being chased by two men, policemen apparently. They want her in connection with her brother Barry who has stolen some jewellery, she says. Alan's "good deed for today" is giving her a lift to her London nightclub, but that's only for starters. Harry (once called Barry) isn't quite what she's claimed and he's not the only one. A typical trait of Baker and Berman films, though here the plot is quite easy to follow. Yes, even poor Alan can realise the police now want him for murder! American guest star is Arthur Kennedy who plays it out with a deadpan disinterest, though his ambivalent character is quite complex for a Tempean film

JOHNNY-ON-THE-SPOT (1954, directed by Maclean Rogers, Bushey Studios, 2*)- A typical EJ Fancey prodcution, little tension, little emotion shown by the characters, but a certain naive charm, and this one isn't as amateurishly constructed as some. Johnny (Hugh McDermott) is out of prison, and out for revenge on the swindler Osborne who put him there. But he only finds his enemy already dead, plus a dead girl, Julia. Suspicious is Joan Ingram (Elspet Gray) whom Johnny sees driving away from the scene of the crime with Walter. Another dubious character is a blind pianist who plays Rachmaninoff rather badly just as Johnny finds the corpse. Inspector Beveridge (Ronald Adam) and his sergeant (young Conrad Phillips) is soon asking Johnny some tough questions. Johnny entrusts to his friend Paul (Paul Carpenter) Osborne's diary, but it is stolen. Johnny has a stroke of luck in tracing the pianist, and this leads him to actress Diane, who is holding Joan a prisoner. But what it's really all about as we reach the showdown I have some difficulty in explaining

MAD ABOUT MEN (1954, directed by Ralph Thomas, 5*) - a sequel to "Miranda". Improvements- this was made in colour and is enhanced by cameos from Dora Bryan as a flirtatious mermaid, and Noel Purcell as an old salt. The trouble is that the whole film can't sustain an hour and a half of Glynis Johns being voluptuous. The story concerns Miss Trewella who is engaged to a dull civil servant. When our mermaid takes her place for a holiday, she determines to get the engagement broken off and find her human cousin a more romantic fiance.

MAN ON THE CLIFF (1954, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, 3*)- Shot on location, narrated by Ronald Leigh-Hunt who plays a man suffering from loss of memory. He awakes on top of a cliff and decides he must be Professor James Pendlebury, an atomic scientist who has gone missing. Stumbling over a corpse on the rocks at the foot of the cliff, he borrows the dead man's identity, John Tilling. Hiding in a hotel is his next mistake, for Mrs Tilling is holidaying here! The local police (John Harvey) interrogate him and there's no way he can avoid being reunited with his wife. However he's in for another shock as she identifies him as her husband! He collapses and the knock causes his memory to return, a flashback revealing all

MURDER BY PROXY (1954 directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 5*)- "Best offer I've had tonight," drunken reporter Casey tells this blonde when she picks him up offering 500 for them to get married. One of those impenetrable mysteries in which the girl's millionaire father is then done in. Belinda Lee plays the enigmatic Phyllis while Dane Clark is Casey who's advised very strongly "to get the first plane out of town." Clark had something of a love affair with British films, playing these baffling scenes with all the calmness of a man who knows what's going on, even though noone else does, "how big a chump can you be?"

NO RESTING PLACE (1954, directed by Paul Rotha, filmed in Ireland, 2*)- This is no Irish whimsy, it's the dour portrait of tinker Alec Kyle who accidentally kills Ross a gamekeeper, who has attacked his son. John Mannigan (Noel Purcell), an ageing policeman pursues him with an old fashioned zeal that's never explained, but then the Irish method of pursuing criminals slowly is really only an excuse to show the sad Alec's nomadic life. He's "a bit queer in the head," involved in a pub brawl with Mannigan, an ideal role for Michael Gough, but we see too his good side, devoted to his dying wife Meg. The film is hard going with an inevitably poignant ending

ONE JUMP AHEAD (1954, Southall Studios, directed by Charles Saunders, 5*)- 'R Snell 1A' is murdered. Reporter Paul (Carpenter) gets to realise Snell's friend ought to have been killed as he's learned the secret of the Ruined Church. "How'd you like to come and see some old ruins with me?" is his novel chat-up line to girlfriend Maxine. There they stumble on a woman's corpse. It appears she's talked of some "buried treasure" in this bombed out church. But Paul soon finds the crooks are always One Jump Ahead of him, mainly because of his two-timing girl Judy. In the ruins there's a dramatic conclusion to a sometimes poignant story (as when the dead child's family are interviewed) and sometimes fun (Paul C smiles through this role), though Jill Adams as Judy is, I'm afraid, unconvincing

PAID TO KILL (1954, directed by Montgomery Tully, Bray Studios, 4*)- Jim Neville (Dane Clark) is facing the collapse of the large business he runs, so persuades old drunken buddy Paul Kirby to bump him off, "sounds desperate." Jim even finds his beloved wife Andrea distancing herself from him. But when Jim's project finds a backer, "the deal is off," only Kirby can't be found to warn him. Then Jim is shot, though not fatally, the rest of the film spent trying to trace first Kirby, then when Jim realises he has another enemy, dodging death. One impressive scene is in an ill lit alley. The final confrontation is really tense also

PASSING STRANGER (1954, directed by John Arnold, 5*)- At the Blue Barn Cafe, Jill (Diane Cilento) takes pity on Chick (Lee Patterson), on the run after robbery with violence. His gang as well as police are after him. Surprisingly world weary for a B film, you know their love is doomed as they try to get away to start a new life. To do that, Chick must grab the proceeds of the robbery from the gang by a doublecross, you hope that

PROFILE (1954, directed by Francis Searle, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Things are not quite right between Aubrey Holland and his young wife Margo. She's fallen for Peter (John Bentley), who has just been appointed editor by Holland on a new magazine. Margo's ex-husband is her first fly in the ointment, trying to blackmail her, though a worse second is Susan (Thea Gregory), Aubrey's grown-up daughter from his first marriage, over whom Peter starts to "drool." At the launch of the first number of Profile, Aubrey dies of a heart attack. There's never a second edition, as the company is bankrupt, Peter has been cashing cheques on the firm's account, though he claims no knowledge of it. Margo knows the truth- she has the best role, Kathleen Byron playing it with her usual acerbic villainy. Peter finds himself also framed for murder before he exposes the real killer in a chase round the printers

RADIO CAB MURDER (1954 directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Taxi driver Fred (Jimmy Hanley) follows a car driven by crooks after a shooting. Though it gets away, police ask Frank, even though he's a reformed safe breaker, to get evidence agianst this gang, whose latest job is to rob 50,000 from a bank. Though he's rumbled, Fred uses his cab radio to guide police to where the gang have fled to. Fred is shut in a deep freeze, can he be rescued in time?

RIVERBEAT (1954, directed by Guy Green, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Ship radio operative Judy unthinkingly smuggles cigarettes when she steps ashore. In a pub she makes friends with Dan Barker (John Bentley) who happens to be an inspector for the Thames police. Next time she smuggles she's caught, and diamonds are found on her, "that's almost unbelievable." Surely the boss has to elimnate her, "I guess it does look pretty bad." She has identified Charles (Glyn Houston) in Poplar as one of the gang, and she tails him as he tries to get away. He lands in her own ship. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill you Judy." There's a riverboat chase and a good end with Inspector Barker facing the boss standing in the river mud facing his gun

THE TECKMAN MYSTERY (1954, directed by Wendy Toye, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Novelist Philip Chance is persuaded to write a book about test pilot Martin Teckman whose F109 disintegrated in mid air. As this is an adaptation of a tv serial, it's surprising how plodding the start is, but tension does build with a series of corpses and red herrings as "dangerous busybody" Philip investigates. Some sparkling dialogue might give you the feel of this mystery: "If there's anything you haven't told me about this Teckman business...", "Everything about your brother seems to get complicated", "How can I take no chances, when I haven't the faintest idea what's going on?", "It's no use pretending you've got the upper hand just because you're carrying a revolver. It might just as well be a stick of rhubarb!", "Philip, are you being quite honest with me?", "You fool, do you think it's as easy as that?", "I'm sorry I had to be so cryptic", "I don't know what to believe, inspector", "Inspector, would you mind telling me what the devil this whole business is about?"

THIRD PARTY RISK - (1954, directed by Daniel Birt, Bray Studios, 3*)- The plodding script and Lloyd Bridges are the weaknesses of this thriller, Bridges' face registering little emotion of any kind, certainly little involvement with his character. And the music must be the worst of any British 50's film! The star plays Phillip Graham who is kidnapped in Spain, mistaken for his old RAF buddy Tony Roscoe. After a slow start, the film briefly warms up as Phil stumbles over Tony's corpse in his London flat. He was a society photographer and had been blackmailing clients, including ex girlfriend Mitzi. He'd also been filming new antibotic research. Mitzi is pally with old Mr Darius (Finlay Currie), whose niece Marina (Maureen Swanson) falls for Phil. But there is little coherence to the plot as Phil uses the antibiotics microfilm to lure the boss of the criminals into the open, and back in Spain, the net slowly and dully closes

TIME IS MY ENEMY (1954, directed by Don Chaffey, 5*)- Diamond thief Martin (Dennis Price) has shot a west end jeweller and blackmails his estranged wife Barbara (Renee Asherson), who has got married again to John, believing the worthless Martin to have been killed in the blitz. She hands him a pendant. As ever, he comes back for more. "Are you in any sort of a jam?" Of course she is, but daren't tell a soul, as she hands Martin 400 more. But he wants yet more and, goaded, she shoots him. A little late now, but she tells John. But quickly, the gallant John covers up the evidence, except the 400 which has strangely gone missing, but inevitably he is spotted by Martin's ditched girlfriend Evelyn. Inspector Charles Wayne (Duncan Lamont) has no option but to arrest Barbara, or has he? He resigns and it's left to his keen-eyed sergeant to dig up Evelyn for a neat twist that gives us an unexpectedly happy finale

TRACK THE MAN DOWN (1954 directed by RG Springsteen, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Mary (Ursula Howells) is besotted with Rick Lambert, a petty crook who has just robbed a greyhound track. Her sister June (Petula Clark) has better judgement, not taking to him at all, but the closing police net is slowed down by too many characters. Everything is too formulaic about this film, the stand off a cross between The Ghost Train and The Runaway Bus, without the laughs, and with no thrills either. The best part with some good close up shots is when Rick and the nervous Ken (Kenneth Griffith) hijack a bus, and hole out in a boathouse

THE UNHOLY FOUR (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 4*) aka THE STRANGER CAME HOME- "We thought you were dead," but after four years Philip 'Vic' has returned home, in an impressive opening that sadly isn't seen through. Job (Patrick Holt), Harry and Bill (Paul Carpenter) had been with Vic when he disappeared in Portugal, he's sure one of them had tried to kill him to marry his wife Angie (Paulette Goddard), "a corpse doesn't write to his executioner to say I'm Coming Back." Whodunnit? There are plenty of good lines to make up for the lack of action. Bill: "I don't like people very much, not even the people I like." Inspector: "I wish I had a week's holiday with pay for every time I've heard that. I wouldn't have to work until 1994." Vic: "You don't need a psychiatrist, you need a little sense"

UP TO HIS NECK (1954, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Pinewood Studios, 4*)- Able Seaman Jack Carter (Ronald Shiner) has spent ten idyllic years on a Pacific isle, he doesn't want to be rescued. It's a whimsical start, but turns to a more conventional war/crime/comedy when Carter trains a ship's crew for jungle duties, in order to destroy a bandit sub. "We're dealing with fanatics," as the sailors attempt to navigate the vessel- nice moments are dotted round the action. I liked Hattie Jacques "mothering" Brian Rix, and Ronald Shiner teaching Rix to be "a he-man." Sample dialogue- Chinese girl: "What's your name?" Shiner, as he's hit by a missile, "Who Flung That?"

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AS LONG AS THEY'RE HAPPY (directed by J Lee-Thompson, Pinewood Studios, 1955, 6*)- John Bentley (Jack Buchanan) has two daughters married to penniless layabouts, whilst his third thinks she's in love with the Crying Crooner. When she tricks this American into coming to their suburban Wimbledon home and the other two daughters also arrive seeking money, John has a tough time! A stage play with some ordinary songs, which perks up when Diana Dors joins in. The finale is a nice song from Jack Buchanan who then does a dance with of all people Joan Sims. Norman Wisdom finishes off an improving story

BARBADOS QUEST (1955, directed by Bernard Knowles, 5*)- JD has flown from USA to buy a rare Barbados stamp for 10,000, but is it a counterfeit? Detective Tom Martin aka The Duke (Tom Conway), with the aid of wisecracking Barney (Michael Balfour), investigates the vendor Lady Hawksley, whilst Inspector Taylor (John Horsley) investigates the Duke. It seems the titled lady's nephew Geoffrey Blake (Brian Worth) is behind the swindle, but worse follows when an engraver is killed, then a stamp dealer. This is a very straightforward story, but performed with gusto and enlivened by occasional quips from Michael Balfour and John Horsley. Tom Conway performs with authority and the air of a man who knows his character inside out- he reprised his character in Breakaway later that same year

BREAKAWAY (1955, directed by Henry Cass, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Another Baker and Berman offering, the second pairing of Tom Conway as Duke Martin with Michael Balfour as his sidekick Barney. Johnny is carrying a secret Russian formula to do with metal fatigue. He's pursued and disappears. With Johnny's girl friend's sister Paula (Honor Blackman), Duke chases down the villainous leader Webb (Bruce Seton). In a nicely oblique scene the pair exchange terms, full of veiled threats, the bottom line is says Duke "I've got the formula." Actually he's bluffing, but he knows where it is, the left luggage at London Airport. Oh no it's not, the only person who knows is Johnny, who reappears briefly, is chased and crashes his car. Rely on the Duke to wheedle out the truth and catch the mastermind. Another car crash finishes off the hapless villains

THE DELAVINE AFFAIR (1955, directed by Douglas Peirce, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Reporter Rex Banner (Peter Reynolds) investigates the death of Gospel Joe, who seems to have stumbled on the secret of the theft of the Delavine jewels. 'Tea at Ethringham' is the clue that brings Rex to jewel dealer Meyerling, "I shall have to call you a liar." Rex finds he has a double of sorts, actually a friend of his wife Maxine, Peter (Gordon Jackson), and he is the wanted criminal. At Wilson's Farm where the jewels are hidden, there's a showdown. All pretty wooden, the best moment is when Maxine (Honor Blackman) threatens to flirt with Rex's rival

THE FLAW (1955, directed by Terence Fisher, Brighton Studios, 5*)- Monica (Rona Anderson) is rich, and infatuated by ace racing driver Paul (John Bentley), and she ditches steady Jack to marry suddenly. It's all too soon clear he only married her for her money, he has a mistress on the side and when she informs him she is leaving him, he has to resort to baiting Jack with a story of how he is going to poison him. It's "the perfect crime," but, as Jack points out, there must be "a flaw." There certainly is and it provides quite a shock!

THE FLYING EYE (1955, directed by William Hammond, 3*)- The Colonel has invented this "incredible" radio controlled toy plane with a minature tv camera. It proves vital in tracking down naughty enemy agents who steal a new fuel formula invented by a professor. There are lots of jolly japes like car chases, a blown safe and near arson with the prof's niece Angela (Julia Lockwood) and the Colonel's friend Bunstuffer, though the plot is very rambling. But Geoffrey Sumner as the Colonel infuses spirit into the story with his childlike exuberance, "what kind of people do they think we are?" There's a brief scene too with Stratford Johns, as a policeman of course

FUN AT ST FANNY'S (1955, directed Maurice Elvey, 3*)- Too much time is devoted to schoolboy howlers, which is a pity because Fred Emney tries his best as 'Bo-Bo' Jankers, headmaster of a doubtful scholastic establishment, only surviving because of a bequest to its most adult of pupils (Cardew Robinson). As with many such films, too many attempts at humour do fall flat, such as the hypnotist, and Robinson putting the "Ham in Hamlet," but enjoyable moments with Emney include his bathing costume, jiving in drag, and teaching spelling to an inspector. Stanley Unwin has a little cameo as a guide at the Tate Gallery, and Peter Butterworth does a nice take-off of the tv interlude playing the potter. But the school concert fizzles the film out, as Cardew is arrested for stealing a painting midst chaotic scenes in rhyming couplets

THE GILDED CAGE (1955 directed by John Gilling 3*)- this is one of Tempean's few poor films, a lack of strong characters is its weakness though Trevor Reid can always be relied on for some dry wit in his role as the police inspector. The mystery surrounds The Gilded Cage, a Degas painting- but is it a fake? Cpt Steve Anderson (Alex Nichol) meets Marcia at an art gallery on behalf of his brother Harry, and becomes sucked into Harry's shady acquaintances. Steve has to find Harry who strangely disappears

THE HORNET'S NEST (1955, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Two old dears witness the "moronic" Posh hiding the proceeds of a jewel robbery. The place is a rickety Chelsea houseboat, rented out by Bob to two young girls, Terry and Pat. At dead of night, the gang return for their loot, but with typical incompetence only succeed in frightening the girls. Here's a gentle comedy with lovable rogues and endearing characters, if it raises few laughs, at least it tries to please. A sample joke: Terry- "I fell in love with a sea scout." Bob- "Well, don't let him tie you up in knots"

JOHN AND JULIE (1955, directed by William Fairchild, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- "Coronations don't happen every day," so two children run off from Dorset to London to see it, because they want to see it "properly," ie not on television! Watching it today, brought home how much suburban respectability has vanished from the movies since Elizabeth became queen, in those innocent days John and Julie pottered round the country with no idea of any danger. Nice Sir James (Wilfrid Hyde-White) is the first to befriend them, then there's a passing motorist, Judge Davidson (Joseph Tomelty). In London the pair get separated in the vast crowds, and with the story dragging, Julie is befriended by a tart (Moira Lister), whilst John is helped by a youth leader (Colin Gordon). Reunited on the big day, the last quarter of the film shows them arrested, but only so they can have "the best view in London" of the procession. The director gets the best out of Lesley Dudley as Julie, as she at last manages a glimpse of Her Majesty. It's a puzzle why the film wasn't made in 1953 to cash in on the impetus of the coronation, As it is Richard Dimbleby begins by reminding the audience of that summer two years back... and how it rained! Also a puzzle is the route of the children's 150 mile trip. The map shows Julie's school is in North Dorset, though they board their train at Minster- this certainly looks like the station in East Kent- then are seen in a London North Eastern train before ending up at some unspecified town in Wessex, with distances stated to such odd places at Haverfordwest, Penzance, Edinburgh. Nearest to Southampton, but mathematically not possible to be anywhere!

JOHNNY YOU'RE WANTED (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Lorry driver Johnny (John Slater) gives a frightened girl a lift, but discovers her body later, run over. She was Anne, assistant to an astrologer (Garry Marsh), who performs his stage act in local music halls. It transpires she had been murdered, and Johnny investigates in between interludes of fairly juvenile humour. The proper police link the case with drug smuggling, and Johnny agrees to help catch the gang. On the Southampton express (loco no 35025), the boss is nailed

KEEP IT CLEAN (1955 Nettlefold Studios, directed by David Paltenghi, 4*)- A rambling muddled, but pleasantly muddled, film about advertising executive Bert Lane (Ronald Shiner), who's attempting to persude Mrs Anstey of the Women's Purity League to promote The Demon, a wonder machine that "cleans everything." To impress her, Bert has to send her the cast-offs of stripper Colette of the Follies and then rescue her in court when she's accused of interrupting the Follies' lewd proceedings, and finally he has to persuade a window cleaner who falls into her bath not to sue! For no good reason, there is then a frantic chase all over the theatre. James Hayter as Bert's boss provides a good foil even if he is over the top, but Jean Cadell as prim Mrs Anstey steals the show.

THE LOVE MATCH (1955, directed by David Palentchi, Beaconsfield Studios, 5*)- Bill Brown (Arthur Askey) is driving his train like a lunatic so he can get back in time for City's football match. Evidently hooliganism was rife in those days, for he climbs over the fence to get in, then assaults the ref. A sympathetic magistrate (Robb Wilton) has to fine him, and Bill dips in to railway club funds to pay. However the plot is always secondary to the characters and the light comedy and perhaps even more nostalgic than the steam locomotives is the ballroom where Bill's daughter Rose (Shirley Eaton) competes in the Come Dancing competition with gauche partner (Danny Ross). Even more nostalgic are the terrace houses and the scenes of (fairly) contented family life. I thought William Franklyn's part as the put upon ref could have been developed to good effect, the finale is the City v United derby with Bill running a book, but who does he want to win? Surely City, but what's this, his son Percy is playing for United!

MISS TULIP STAYS THE NIGHT (1955, directed by Leslie Arliss, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Crime writer Andrew Dax (Patrick Holt) settles with his wife Kate (Diana Dors) in Wood Cottage. Their wedded bliss is interrupted by a stranger, the eccentric Miss Millicent Tulip, who claims she is being blackmailed. "Do you think she's mad?" Whatever else, she is also dead next morning, shot dead. Investigating is PC Feathers (Jack Hulbert), who is a little slow on the uptake, and Inspector Thorn, "without one grain of commonsense." It needs Andrew and even Kate to help the "halfwit" solve this crime, in a film that is half comedy, quarter mystery and a bit of a detective story. Perhaps it is too "ridiculous," but the stars do their best and on the way enjoy a few happy moments, as "the brilliant amateur solves the mystery that baffled the police"

THE NARROWING CIRCLE (1955, directed by Charles Saunders, 4*)- Reporter Dave Nelson is obliged to share his office with Rosie who is "everything I hate most in women," ie she's not feminine at all, only a career girl. However she stands up for him when he is suspected of murdering his rival Bill, who has been appointed new editor of True Crime magazine. "I've always wanted to be a girl sleuth, " and after stumbling over two more corpses, the pair solve the mystery. Hazel Court puts some zip into her role of Rosie, while Trevor Reid is ever the ideal Yard detective, "great little body finder aren't you?" After a slow start, the characters grow on you

NOT SO DUSTY (1955, directed by MacLean Rogers, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- "There's laughter, tears and romance in every dustbin, if you only look for it!" You don't have to look too far here for the reliable humour provided by two dustmen (Leslie Dwyer and Bill Owen) who rescue Mrs Duncan's brooch from the bin. As a reward they're given a "perishing" book by ancient Diogenes ("Dodgy knees"), but Mrs Duncan's grasping relatives "Sourpuss and Alabaster" try and get it from them. The reason?- Elmer a rich American is prepared to pay good money for it. The rest of the film is really The Adventures of the Book, probably just as well, as there's not that much humour in refuse collection. Our heroes resort to burglary to retrieve their book in a fast talking plot which is performed with real enthusiasm, not least in the scene at the Dustman's Annual Ball. Joy Nicholls sings one lively song whilst Bill Owen (or is it a voiceover?) performs a comedy number

ONE WAY OUT (1955 directed by Francis Searle, Bray Studios, 4*)- "I gotta see him," cries the hysterical Carol in a rowdy pub. By contrast, a peaceful Sunday with Supt John Harcourt (Eddie Byrne) in his garden, before embarking on his last case before retirement, the death of this Carol. She is a friend of Danvers, "the biggest fence since the war," who, to prevent Harcourt from nailing him, gets his sidekick Leslie to chat up Harcourt's widowed daughter Shirley. She is taken to an isolated garage near Maidenhead where she witnesses an armed robbery, or is she somehow involved in it? Danvers offers Harcourt the deal, drop the case against him, take 1,000, and there's no choice, the uncorruptible Harcourt has to play ball. The weak link in Danvers' gang is Sam (Arthur Lowe), and Harcourt puts the pressure on him and learns Danvers is planning to steal the Southwold Emerald. The gang is rounded up, but there's no proof of Danvers' involvement. So Harcourt has to do what a man's gotta do, and proceeds in a deliberate fashion to Harry's cafe. Enter Danvers, "you wanted to see me." Harcourt returns the bribe and taunts the crook,"you're a coward." Danvers has to silence the policeman, and now there's proof enough to send Danvers down

POLICE DOG (1955, directed by Derek Twist, National Studios, 4*)- One of those cosy films in which the police sergeant's called Skipper, not surprising as he's played by Charles Victor. It's a semi-documentary about PC Frank Mason training his police dog Rex after Ken his colleague is shot in the course of duty. However Frank's attention to the dog arouses the jealousy of his girl friend Pat (Joan Rice), though it pays off when Rex corners chummy in a factory robbery

PORTRAIT OF ALISON (1955, directed by Guy Green, 4*)- Artist Tim's brother is killed in a car crash in Italy, along with actress Alison Ford. Her dad, "Mr John Smith," commissions Tim (Robert Beatty) to paint her portrait posthumously, but Tim's model Jill is murdered, wearing Alison's dress. A postcard from Italy of a hand holding a bottle of chianti, is the key to the mystery, and Tim can buy it for 1,500. It's all to do with diamond smuggling. Looking suitably bewildered Tim meets the very much alive Alison and it's too easy to guess his brother Dave (William Sylvester) is mixed up in it. Insp Colby (quietly played by Geoffrey Keen) unravels it all with calm efficiency. Good support cast including two upcoming stalwarts Allan Cuthbertson as a typical uppercrust and William Lucas as typical blackmailer. Some typical lines: "Aren't we being just a bit mysterious, inspector?" ... "My dear chap, you're letting your imagination run away with you!" ... "I haven't heard so many tall stories, since I stopped reading Hans Anderson." A typical Francis Durbridge plot in fact

RACE FOR LIFE (1955, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 4*)- "Bad nerves" afflict racing driver Peter Wells (Richard Conte), a familiar enough story with an air of fatalism as the Grand Prix starts. When a friend crashes, Peter drops out the race. "Don't go on, Peter," urges Pat his wife, but it is his life, and he's got to do etc. "I've got to drive if it kills me." She walks out. Thus the next race is run even more clouded in pessimism. Smoke pours from Peter's car, as the ending turns into utter fantasy, ludicrous even

RAISING A RIOT (1955, directed by Wendy Toye, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Naval officer Tony (Kenneth More) must look after his three "hooligans," in actuality three young children. In their lovely temporary home of a converted windmill, he has the help of his dad (Ronald Squire, underused), who is half a handyman. But then Tony isn't much of a cook, nor is this much of a film. nothing at all objectionable, always pleasant, domestic cosiness. A shot in the arm he needs, as does this film, yet all it does is amble happily along, a touch of a fight, and of romance, even childish communism. But it never really goes places, though it goes nicely enough

ROOM IN THE HOUSE (1955, directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 5*) - Marjorie Rhodes gets a starring role as lonely Betsy, who leaves her happy home to stay with her rich son David. "From now on everything will be done for you." What with their adminstering her tonics, supper in bed, tucked in at 8.30, she determines to live instead with her son Jack. Here she is able to live a much more active existence, especially as Jack's wife Mary is a hypochondriac. But Betsy puts her foot in it, wisely advising her granddaughter Chris to go, horror of horrors, up North to join her sweetheart Brian. With parting words of wisdom, she departs for her son Hugh. He's a reverend, very busy, and about to go to America on a pulpit exchange. How can he tell her she cannot go? In a sad scene she finds out and returns to home and Mrs Potter (Edie Martin). "I've been a foolish old woman," she tells Benji (Leslie Dwyer), but it's a happy return to her former house, "there's no place like home"

SHADOW OF A MAN (1955, directed by Michael McCarthy, 4*)- "When you've killed a man, nothing makes much sense." The old tale of a triangle twixt Norman (Ronald Leigh-Hunt) and Linda (Rona Anderson) and Paul, resolved by Paul's heart failure, later established as suicide or murder. But a new triangle develops with old friend of Paul's Gene (Paul Carpenter) who makes himself "soundly at home." But then is Linda's friend Carol (Jane Griffiths) also eyeing Gene? Certainly she tells it straight to Gene about his idol Paul, and this leads to an argument on Hastings Pier at night, pleasingly shadowy, and another death. "That guy was full of hate." Though the ending is a bit naughty, there's an enjoyable final manhunt on the deserted pier. EJ Fancey production

SPIN A DARK WEB (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - Betty (Rona Anderson) has falled for this handsome Canadian Jim Bankby (Lee Patterson) who's got a new job through his old army buddy with the crooked gang of Rico (Martin Benson). Rico's sister Bella falls for Jim. Rico has fingers in many pies, protection and fixing betting. One boxer Bill doesn't throw a fight as suggested, and is done in. He's Betty's brother. Rico's next scheme is to get Jim to tap phone lines to fix the odds on a horse race at Ripon to his advantage. "We won!" 10 to 1.But Jim realises he's been "a fourteen carat sap" when he watches Bill's killer being ruthlessly silenced by Rico's henchmen, "like," as Bella grimly puts it, "squashing a fly." Of course Betty hides Jim as he tries to escape the gang's clutches, but she and her dad wind up their prisoners. With Martin Benson in one of his typical villainous roles, and Rona Anderson as ever defenceless, it's only a pity the film has taken so long to get to this tense finish

STOCK CAR (1955, Nettlefold Studios, directed by Wolf Rilla, 3*) - It's a familiar enough start, with Harry Fowler loitering on the pavement before stealing a 30hp Ford "dead right for the Stock Car lark." The car is dumped at Grebe's Garage run by Katie (Rona Anderson). With bad time girl Gina (Susan Shaw inevitably) the pair are rivals for the love of stock car driver Larry (Paul Carpenter). Plenty of thrills at the racetrack with sawn-off steering wheels etc

STOLEN ASSIGNMENT (1955, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 7*)- Fast moving murder mystery with plenty of good humorous character interaction. Where is Margaret, wife of artist Henry Crossley (Patrick Holt)? John Bentley has a typical role as the news reporter Mike sniffing out the story, vying with his girlfriend journalist Jenny (Hy Hazel), and impeding longsuffering Corky of the Yard (Eddie Byrne) in his investigations. It all points to Henry until our reporter proves his innocence. Surely nice Aunt Ida (Joyce Carey) can't be the killer? An awful lot of lying confuses things, "you could have saved us a great deal of trouble if you'd told the truth to start with." Sample dialogue: Mike- "there's been a development." Jenny- "yes, I've seen her"

SUPERSONIC SAUCER (1955, directed by SG Ferguson, 3*)- Gosh, in the school hols Rodney, son of Mr Martin the headmaster (Donald Gray), has to stay home in the school, along with two pupils Greta and Sumac. They befriend an alien from Venus, more a glove puppet to be honest, naming it Meba, who is rather like Aladdin's lamp, supplying their every wish. That's the fun, when it first brings them a feast, then the desired million pounds, "oh golly." A ripe target for burglars, but Meba is ordered to return it all and as retribution, the school's naughty caretaker kidnaps Meba so the crooks can force it to steal the money again. Primitive would be too kind a word to describe the special effects, yet there's a wizard chase as Meba is rescued from the bungling criminals using more Meba magic, the most entertaining bit being the baddies climbing several flights of stairs to catch the children at the top, only to be blown down to the bottom time and time again

THEY CAN'T HANG ME (1955, directed by Val Guest, Shepperton Studios,6*)- Robert Pitt (Andre Morell) is to be hanged, but claims he can reveal, in return for his freedom, the identity of Leonidas, dangerous masterspy. Inspector Brown (Terence Morgan) of Special Branch investigates the crime for which Pitt has been found guilty, the murder of Yvette. In between times, we see a bit of Brown's private life run by well oiled man Harold, and with his longsuffering incredibly understanding fiancee Jill. This is a well paced thriller as we follow Brown's desperate measures to unmask Leonidas. using the latest technology, like a blackboard, and even a giant walkie-talkie. Brown bets ten bob he can guess the masterspy's identity. I knew too, though I'd have lost my bet

TIGER BY THE TAIL (1955, directed by John Gilling, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Journalist John Desmond (Larry Parks) picks up Anna (Lisa Daniely) in a club and is soon besotted. But after a row over her diary he accidentally shoots her. This diary holds a cypher which lands John and his secretary Jane (Constance Smith) in deeper waters, and that's what this film is so good at showing, John sucked into an unfathomable mystery surrounding Anna's secret life. The code book is wanted back by the gang of counterfeiters, they kidnap John but after tough questioning he escapes. Hiding in a loonybin is a smart move, and here he starts to crack the code. However the crooks are smarter, pose as doctors and get John transferred to a private clinic. With Jane also captured things look very black. This brings us back to the atmospheric opening which showed John staggering down an ill lit street, wounded, the very essence of film noir

THE TIME OF HIS LIFE (1955, directed by Leslie Hiscott, 8*)- Oh yes, the Carter-Wilsons are a top London family, very happy, everything runs smoothly, their existence run like a well oiled machine thanks to their smooth social secretary Edgar (Richard Wattis). But the arrival of the father of Mrs Florence Carter-Wilson (Ellen Pollock) is to change all this. Charles Pastry has just been released from Wansdmoor Prison, he'd been sent there unjustly of course. But now he's been there so long, he's really happy, trusted by everyone from the governor down. No he didn't want to leave, certainly not to Flo's, where, worse than in jail, he is locked away in an attic room to avoid any hint of social scandal. As with all good comedy, there's an element of pathos in downtrodden Mr Pastry here, spurned by his own daughter, a stranger to his two grandchildren, Penelope whose birthday it is today, and Simon who has rather lost his shirt on a horse. "There's been some gross bungling somewhere," as Pastry keeps breaking free of his tiny cell and endears himself to almost everyone except poor Flo and her husband. Specially is he helpful in getting Simon out of his scrape, saving him from a crooked bookie. There's also time for a classic slapstick scene with Mr Pastry attempting to play an absurdly shaped enormous trumpet, and another one with a loose drainpipe dangling in mid air. This was good clean comedy of the kind that won Richard Hearne as Mr Pastry so many friends. Sadly his innocence is something to scoff at nowadays, but he will stand the test of time, I believe, much better than most of today's so called comedians

WHERE THERE'S A WILL (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- This endearing film starts with a marvellous evocation of rural England, I always felt it must be Devon. Bob Sharples' wistful score accompanies three Cockneys who have inherited Windrush Farm,. There's Alfie (Leslie Dwyer's best role) who falls for this "communing with nature," while wide boy Fred (George Cole) and Maud (Dandy Nichols) are all for selling "the dump." And Stokes is offering 2,000 but Alfie won't hear of such a thing, and Maud's daughter June rather turns the head of young Ralph Stokes (Edward Woodward). But Alfie can't raise enough cash to buy the farm himself, not unless Annie (Kathleen Harrison), who served the old master, can lend it him, and that comes with strings, ie her. As Annie says, they talk an awful lot, as the plot gets a little bogged down in the farm mud, but there's a happy contrived ending that brings tears to your eyes

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ACTION STATIONS (1956, directed by CH Williamson, 1*)- Shot on location in Spain, this is a truly dreadful combination of poor acting, poor continuity and feeble script. A mysterious man on a bicycle discovers a corpse on a sandy beach. He links various scenes with Prof Braun's daughter Anna who has escaped from the clutches of the rich Kleiver (Roanld Leigh-Hunt) who is forcing the prof to produced counterfeit money. Kleiver's agent Tony pays Captain Bob (Paul Carpenter) in this currency as payment for contraband goods, then machine guns poor Bob's boat. After a punch up at sea, Anna is recaptured, but escapes and is helped by the bicycle man. Bob breaks into Kleiver's fortress of a villa for his revenge, or something

ASSIGNMENT REDHEAD (1956, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Special Flight 402 has landed in London from Berlin, bringing Alexis Scammell, but he's an imposter. Major Keen (Richard Denning) has to track down him and the other four passengers, some are bumped off and then a "red headed Delilah" sidetracks this "man on a mission" so that nothing "makes any sense," even one of the characters admitting they don't know what's going on. So what chance have we? "You're being fooled up to the limit," Keen is warned, as he finally sees thru his phoney romance and uncovers twelve million forged dollars

BEFORE I WAKE (1956, directed by Albert S Rogell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Miss April Haddon has come back to Dawmouth after her father's accidental death. But she's like "a stranger in her own home," Florence her stepmother (Jean Kent) is the harridan, she the young innocent in this familiar enough plot, but well performed with an exciting climax. In three weeks April will inherit the family fortune, but her suspicion is her own mother had been killed by Florence as well as her father. Her one ally could be Dr Michael Elder (Maxwell Reed) but he seems blind to her fears, the local police sergeant (Alexander Gauge) is no more concerned. Everyone seems taken in by Florence's hypocrisy. "She's got to get rid of me," cries April. First it's the old runaway car trick. Then the poison, finally a drug and a crashed boat

BEHIND THE HEADLINES (1956, directed by Charles Saunders, Southall Studios, 5*) - Paul Carpenter stars, clearly enjoying his role as a freelance reporter on the case of a blonde strangled with her own stocking. With the assistance of Pam, Chelsea 1657 (Adrienne Corri), and some rivalry with secretary Maxine (Hazel Court), Paul traces the girl's contacts- an insurance agent (Trevor Reid), her theatrical agent (Harry Fowler) and her ex-husband. A complex cipher leads them to the killer, but then Paul's car is smashed up before he finally comes face to face with the killer, at the wrong end of a gun!

BOND OF FEAR (1956, directed by Henry Cass, 4*)- A Midlands family are off on a three week caravanning holiday in France, but their idyll is spoiled by Terence Dewar, on the run from the police, who hides in their caravan. With son Michael a hostage, his father John (Dermot Walsh) has no choice but to agree to transport him past the road blocks, but then the convict stays put and has to go on with them out of England, "when are you going to leave us alone?" It's a tough time for the family, once, twice, they fail to snatch Dewar's gun, "I don't think much of this holiday." At Dover Docks, the nightmare ends, though it's an unimaginative conclusion

BOOBY TRAP - (1956 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Henry Cass, 2*) Oh dear, an absent minded professor leaves his "box of tricks," a remote controlled bomb, in a taxi. Sammy a spiv (Harry Fowler) finds it and pawns it, but lured by a 30 reward tries to get it back for the prof. Frustratingly, slowly he tracks it down, with bouts of heavy handed humour not improving matters, worse some cliches, even "you dirty little rat." A gang of dope smugglers is caught up in all this inactivity, though there is a fairly exciting final scene as the villains zoom off down the A3 with the prof's bomb about to explode

CHILD IN THE HOUSE (1956, directed by Cy Endfield and/ or Charles de Latour, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Young Elizabeth has to stay with her Aunt Evelyn (Phyllis Calvert) and barrister Uncle Henry as her mother is ill. The couple are not used to children. Elizabeth's father Stephen (Stanley Baker) is always away on business, and as the film progresses, more is revealed of his shady dealings. The poor child is torn by her loyalty to him, trying to keep his presence nearby a secret. Dora Bryan as Cassie the sympathetic maid adds a welcome touch of lighter relief as she understands more clearly than her employers the dilemma Elizabeth is experiencing. Aunt Evelyn's cosy world falls apart as she calls in the police, "I hate you," the girl screams at her. Perhaps it becomes too dramatic when she runs away, "never really seen hate before." Mandy plays the girl and proves what a mature actress she is, and Eric Portman as uncle is quietly understated

DICK TURPIN- HIGHWAYMAN (1956, directed by David Paltenghi, Bray Studios, 5*)- Jonathan Redgrove (Allan Cuthbertson) is the sort of pompous toff who deserves to be taught a lesson. It's evident he's only marrying Gertrude for her dowry, so gallant Dick robs her, and at once the engagement is called off. There's a nice twist to this old chesnut when Dick then obliges Redgrove to marry the girl who turns out to be rather rotund. Not a lot of dashing highway robbery here, but Philip Friend made the ideal hero in this short that has all the appearance of a tv pilot with its jolly theme song. Colour photography and Hammerscope too! At the end, the barman calls out to Dick "come again sir," but he never did

DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT (1956, directed by Gene Martel, MGM Elstree Studios, 3*)- Ray Andersen (Paul Carpenter) flies into Britain with June his bride on a diplomatic passport. A mysterious phone call orders him to a conference in Paris, but in France his car is stolen, as thieves have hidden smuggled diamonds in it. The car crashes and papers announce he has been badly hurt and his wife killed. The continuity is always rather jerky, but now both June and Ray dither inexplicably, she trying desperately to get to him, he waiting for the American embassy to contact him. Ray is kidnapped and so is June when she calls at the clinic where her supposed husband is being treated. A giant muddle of a film finally ends with their reunion

FIND THE LADY (1956, directed by Charles Saunders, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- Stranded in her car, June is rescued by Dr Bill Craig (Donald Houston). She is spending the new year with her godmother Margaret at Priory Manor, but when she finally gets there she's told by Margaret's archaeologist brother-in-law Hurst (Mervyn Johns) that she's been taken ill and is in a Bournemouth rest home and can't be contacted. Bill says he's no longer her doctor in this pleasing mystery that deepens when June and he follow up a telephone number Hurst had been ringing. It's the Expresso del Roma, where the occupants have "got crook written all over them." Then at dead of night June sees one such dumping dirt in the Priory garden. Perhaps it was a mistake to reveal to us now that Hurst is one of a gang tunnelling under the house to a nearby bank. A mistake for June since she's found out and imprisoned in the cellar, on New Year's Eve too! Thankfully Bill comes to her rescue and the old lady is found safe and well. With Moray Watson adding a touch of comedy, here's a forgotten fifties bit of fun that deserves reviving

FLIGHT FROM VIENNA (1956, directed by Denis Kavanagh, Producer: EJ Fancey, 2*)- A Hungarian, Sandor Kosice (Theodore Bikel), escapes from behind the Iron Curtain, and in Vienna Captain Lawton (John Bentley) realises his value for he is a colonel in the Hungarian army. With Col George Gorman (Donald Gray), Lawton questions Kosice to determine his bona fides. To prove himself, he's asked to return to Budapest and rescue an aged scientist, "it's not going to be very easy." The film however makes it appear so, as Kosice also grabs his wife Irma in a confused sequence. More time is spent on the trek to the border, eluding the odd soldier. "None of it matters as long as I'm with you, "is Irma's corny line to her husband. It might seem unlikely, his hoodwinking anyone to borrow an army vehicle to escape in, but he does. In fact there is never much drama, the more interesting part of the film is the diplomatic aspect of the tale. The last drawn out act has the professor and Kosice flown to Munich, thence to Paris, shadowed by the enemy. A very bitty finish with a shootout, not very suspenseful. London at last and political asylum

THE GELIGNITE GANG (1956 directed by Francis Searle at Brighton Studios, 5*)- The mysterious Mr G is boss of a gang undertaking daring safe robberies. Jimmy Baxter (stodgy Wayne Morris) of Anglo American Investigations is on his trail, or as his boss (Patrick Holt) informs him: "I shall send a wreath to your funeral." Clues lead to the Green Dragon where the manager (Eric Pohlmann) is able to assist Jimmy. Also on the trail is feeble Inspector Felby (Lloyd Lamble) who "wants this lot badly" after the theft of Lady Wilshaw's daimond tiara ends in murder. Says Baxter to him: "As soon as we round up the gang, I'll let you know so you can make the arrest." The showdown is at a pawnbrokers where the crooks send the police a hail of bullets. "Shall we arrest them sir?" Felby is optimistically asked! But naturally it's Baxter who finally tracks Mr G to his lair. This is a routine thriller with perhaps the best part being the role of a 22 year tearaway played by James Kenney

THE GREEN MAN (1956, directed by Robert Day, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- a nice study that might have been even better, of a gentle assassin of "overblown balloons" (Alastair Sim), his latest target is a thoroughly pompous MP. Snags however materialise in the form of Marigold his necessary fiancee, who has to be bumped off, only she isn't. Then there is the imaginative salesman (George Cole) who keeps finding the semi-dead body. Action moves to a seaside hotel, where Charlie (Terry-Thomas) puts in a belated brief appearance, how he gets a starring credit is as mysterious as the dull title. Most memorable is Sim chatting up the enthusiastic amateur musical trio of females in a black comedy, better in its parts than as a whole

GUILTY? (1956, directed by Edmond Greville, Beaconsfield Studios, 1*)- Frenchwoman Victoria Martin pleads not guilty to killing Julian Welles. She'd been his lover, borne his child but had been separated for years. They'd met up in a hotel room where he is found shot. Thus her "chances aren't very good" in this court case in which flashbacks relating to the murder are jumbled in with lawyer Rumbold (John Justin) turning detective. In France he is pursued by an attractive lady in "underclothes" to Avignon where he encounters "an atmosphere," more hostility in truth. The characters never really engage you, but if you care about the outcome, this is in the best tradition. The jury have returned, about to pronounce their verdict when Rumbold's fresh evidence dramatically arrives

THE HIDEOUT (1956, directed by Peter Graham-Scott, Shepperton Studios, 3*)- Steve Curry (Dermot Walsh) accidentally picks up a case belonging to a Miss Grant (Rona Anderson) and gets captured by crooks who want it. Well, it is full of currency notes! Steve ends up on the trail of smuggled furs, en route finding romance with Miss Grant, whose brother Robert (Ronald Howard) is in deep with the villains. All very routine until the furs prove to be contaminated with anthrax, though the possible repercussions are never developed. Instead, Robert is killed with Steve's gun, so Steve has to work fast to catch his best friend and rescue Miss Grant from the crooks. Yes, that's a typical Rona Anderson role! The best line: Tim (Sam Kydd): "Who's going to talk to a copper? Those blue uniforms give people laryngitis"

HOUSE OF SECRETS (1956, directed by Guy Green, Pinewood, 6*)- Lavish colour brands this no B picture, but all else does! Michael Craig, even when he sees a fortune in cash blowing away, remains impassive. He impersonates a dead crook to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters. With Anton Diffring as the boss and Eric Pohlmann as a rival swindler this could have been a thriller, but sadly we see too little of them. And you never really feel any concern for the hero even when crooks keep rumbling his cover and he is forced to kill each in turn. The showdown is well done, though the master criminal's identity is too easy to guess!

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE (1956, directed by Michael McCarthy, ABP Elstree Studios, 2*)- Tessa is married to the theatre, living in St John's Wood with her extended family. "Bedlam" what with baby screaming, for here is no set of likeable characters, not kitchen sink but still a host of drudges. Steering the billowing ship is Laura (Phyllis Calvert), but she's offered new horizons by suave Mr Hodgson (Guy Rolfe) through the publication of her first book. $100,000 for the film rights and suddenly she's in Hollywood, the theme developed so well later in tv's As Time Goes By. When she returns to England, the proceeds have enabled her to live apart from her "intolerable" family in a posh flat. Peace! But of course her writing is suffering and the solution is obvious, though whether the storyline has any basis in reality I doubt. As for Tessa, she's through with stardom and we the audience are only too glad to be through too

LADY OF VENGEANCE (1956, directed by Burt Balaban, British National Studios, 5*)- Why did Melissa jump in fromt of an express train? As ward of William T Marshall (Dennis O'Keefe), owner of The Clarion she was well off, but she had left home for "bloodsucker" Larry Shaw. Her suicide note asks Marshall to exact revenge. To do so, Marshall bribes the mastermind behind "fabulous crimes" Karnak (Anton Diffring) to come up with a murder plan that will give "a crescendo of fright," trapped, alone, aware of impending death. A perfect plan is drawn up, one that Marshall can admire, we are then given a very good twist with an exciting finish

MY WIFE'S FAMILY (1956, directed by Gilbert Gunn, AB Elstree Studios, 5*) - Though the stars are Ronald Shiner as Doc Knott the ultimate bodging oddjobb man, and Ted Ray as newly married Jack, it is Fabia Drake who steals the show as the ultimate mother-in-law from hell. As soon as she comes on screen, the film picks up. She even sweeps aside Robertson Hare, wasted as her henpecked husband, as she comes to stay with daughter and son-in-law. Mother-in-law: "I'm beginning to wish I hadn't come." Reply: "That makes two of us." With good reason she finds fault with Jack, for unfortunately attractive blonde Gloria (Greta Gynt) shows up, and she had once been engaged to Jack. The film becomes a series of mostly well executed farcical scenes. First it's "get rid of that woman in the lounge," Jack asks Doc, meaning Gloria, but of course it's mother-in-law who's chased off strainght into the stream. Then there's mother-in-law in the bath, unfortunately already occupied by Doc. The men are locked out and return at dead of night via a balcony. "A likely story, I must say." The ultimate: really get rid of her. Robertson Hare eagerly: "I'd like to help you do it." But she does promise to reform, on a piano hurtling downhill, the set piece finale

NO ROAD BACK (1956, directed by Montgomery Tully, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Ma Railton (Margaret Rawlings) runs a gang of robbers even though she's blind and deaf. She has a tender spot for her eyes and ears, adopted daughter Beth (Patricia Dainton), and another soft spot for her son John who's training to be a doctor, ignorant of his mother's thieves' kitchen at the 99 Club. When John finds out the truth, he tries to interrupt their jewel robbery but too late. The ruthless Clem (Paul Carpenter) has killed the nightwatchman, after which the crooks fall out and John finds himself arrested for murder. Beth's character is the most ambivalent, "it takes two to make one person," but the issues take far too long to resolve in a poetic ending that is at least ingeniously wild

ONE WISH TOO MANY (1956, directed by John Durst, CFF, 2*)- Young Peter Brown finds a marble in the street, in a variation of the Aladdin theme. By rubbing it, he can wish for anything! So there's new furniture for mum, lovely, except she thinks it's "awful." Then neighbour Nancy gets an expensive doll, which gets her into trouble from her aunt Miss Mint. Then he can do his homework the easy way, but this gets him into hot water at school, though at least the marble enables Peter to beat the school bully Bert. "That marble's smashing," comments Bert, but the obvious storyline isn't followed through. Instead Peter's toy steamroller is turned by magic into life size. Gladys Young has the best part as grumpy Miss Mint, whilst Arthur Howard is the headmaster, and Sam Costa Peter's unfortunate teacher. Sad to report, the main parts of the children are acted unconvincingly, and a couple of clever pieces of trick photography prove the film's most memorable highlights

PASSPORT TO TREASON (1956, directed by Robert S Baker, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Private eye Ben Conners is killed, so his friend Mike O'Kelly takes on his current assignment- to weed out the traitor in the League for World Peace. As the London fog descends, he tangles with the president (Clifford Evans), the brusque Dr Randolph (Douglas Wilmer) and Diane Boyd (Lois Maxwell), at once enigmatic and treacherous. O'Kelly stumbles on the secret code- "it always adds up to 27," and after some thrilling chases gets hold of the list of traitors, in this typically British film noir, with Rod Cameron proving a solid, if unspectactular American star, as he rescues the maiden in distress

ROGUE'S YARN (1956, Brighton Studios, directed by Vernon Sewell, 7*)- The old story of the rich invalided wife, her husband John (Derek Bond) infatuated by the younger woman, Michelle. Tired of waiting, Michelle demands "she must die," but vacillating John needs some persuading. Their plans are meticulously laid and perfectly executed. However on the case is Inspector Walker of the Yard (Elwyn Brook-Jones, the real star of the film) who questions everyone efficiently and very thoroughly trying to break down "the obvious suspect" who has his watertight alibi based on an automatic boat pilot. How can John's guilt be proven? "That's very clever," as is this absorbing detective story as Walker desperately searches for that one elusive clue

THE SECRET PLACE (1956, directed by Clive Donner, Pinewood, 5*)- Gerry (Ronald Lewis) and Steve plan a "risky" robbery, exploiting young teenager Freddie's puppy love for pretty Molly (Belinda Lee). She's besotted with Gerry, blinded to him as much as Freddie is with her. Steve (Michael Gough) is the gang's voice of reason, one of several contrasts in the story, Molly's drab home and the dream flat she aspires to that Gerry can offer, steam trains chuff in the background fast cars for Gerry, rock n roll but on Molly's old wind-up gramophone, romance and roguery. Freddie lends his father's police uniform to enable the gang to steal diamonds, the Hatton Garden robbery told in detail with pleasing touches and genuine tension. The loot is hidden in Molly's gramophone which she gives to Freddie, "safe as the bank of England." When Freddie sees his trust in Molly has been abused, the lad inevitably smashes his present to pieces and withdraws into himself, hiding the diamonds, but the last third of the film should have been tighter as Steve refuses to force Freddie into revealing his secret, and, though "a bit dodgy," Molly attempts to persuade Freddie, but is rebuffed, their relationship the most absorbing and ambivalent," if only you weren't so young." The final pursuit of the fleeing disillusioned Freddie is the stuff of the chase, ending on a construction site, but no high fall, only a pleasing final twist

SUSPENDED ALIBI (1956, directed by Alfred Shaughnessy, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Paul Pearson (Patrick Holt) wants to finish with "tall voluptuous" Diana. His friend Bill provides him with an alibi while he goes to break it off. It's just bad luck that Bill gets into an argument over cards and is stabbed to death. With a knife that is Paul's. The killer then silences the only one who can tell of Paul's real movements that night, Diana. So Paul is convicted and his wife (a subdued Honor Blackman) and best friend Sandy try to gather evidence to prove Paul's innocence, as the shadow of execution looms ever near. A great idea for a film, though the atmosphere is sadly muted

THERE'S ALWAYS A THURSDAY (1956, directed by Charles Saunders, Southall Studios, 4*)- George Potter leads a most ordinary existence as a stockbroker's clerk, but an enforced drink with Vera (Frances Day in her last film) changes all that. Every week George pays her 20 to keep her quiet, but it's not what you think, he's paying on behalf of his boss (Patrick Holt). It's just bad luck that the police have to know his whereabouts, and loyal George can't give his boss away. When forced to reveal the truth his undeserved reputation as 'Valentino Potter' opens a door for him as manager of Cosy Curves Ltd, 1,000 a year and a third of the profits. The actors try hard, and the storyline is a good one, but the film is a slow starter though Charles Victor as Potter has a dazzle in his eye when he goes up in the world. The last quarter of the film shows him a huge success, but the film doesn't quite achieve this itself, and Vera can topple his empire with but a word

TONS OF TROUBLE (1956, directed by Leslie Hiscott, 5*) - Downtrodden Mr Pastry has two loves in his life- delicate Mavis and Ethel. "I believe you really love your boilers," he's told- for the pair are only giant boilers in a huge block of flats. Richard Hearne plays the Chaplinequse boiler man, a pathetic figure when he's sacked after 42 years' service. But his replacement William Hartnell doesn't find the temperamental old girls "as easy as kiss me 'and" and Mavis nearly blows up. Thanks to Pastry, disaster is averted, and thanks also from the owner of the block who, in a sub plot makes a killing on the stock market. My favourite moments in this disappointing comedy are two rather stock sketches, firstly when Richard Hearne consults a doctor (Ronald Adam) who doesn't appreciate Mavis is a boiler, and secondly when Mr Pastry puts far too much lather in a washing tub. Asks Hartnell- "ain't it funny how some people act?"- but he may have had in his mind a couple of the supporting cast, for this and the poor script sadly ruin Richard Hearne's only film as his most famous creation

A TOUCH OF THE SUN (1956, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold, 4*)- "Darling, you're a marvel"- that's Bill Darling (Frankie Howerd) a hotel porter, loved by one and all since he is so helpful. One grateful guest bequeaths him 10,000 and naturally he wants to quit, but his contract forbids this, so he has to become "dispensible," in a sequence that could have been developed further to advantage. Now he can laze on the Riviera, but the high life is not for him, in a sequence too long and tedious. Returning to London, he buys his old hotel, but needing to improve the place, he has to woo three investors, a well exploited finish with Frankie as The Duchess wooing one "inflamed" backer. Question- which is the naff actress?

A TOUCH OF THE SUN (1956, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold, 4*)- William Darling (Frankie Howerd) is "a perfect darling" of a hotel receptionist, and one guest is so grateful she bequeaths him 10,000. As his contract forbids him to resign, in the best scenes, which could have been expanded, he annoys all the guests by awaking them at 5am. He lives it up in the South of France, but it only makes him miserable, which is reflected in several miserable sketches. So he returns to London to buy his old hotel, which he runs with girl friend Rose, played by Dorothy Bromiley, who produces some inadvertent comedy with her feeble acting. But Howerd rides it all, and dons several characters, in order to impress potential backers of his business, and does one unlikely tango with prim Reginald Beckwith

THE WEAPON (1956, directed by Val Guest, 4*) - While playing on an Aldersgate bomb site, ten year old Erik (John Whiteley) discovers a gun, and blimey, he shoots a friend, accidentally. He panics. It's a novel idea, a boy on the run, it's up to Captain Mark Andrews of the US Army to locate the gun, since it was a murder weapon ten years back. The American actors foul up the reasonable British cast headed by George Cole as a posh crook, who needs to get to Erik and the gun before the authorities. To sustain a chase for 80 minutes is asking a lot, but it ends on a tense high in a showdown with Erik facing oblivion. However the low points are a melodramatic worldweary scene with Nicole Maurey, and the baffling discrepancy between Erik's posh accent and his mother's American drawl

WHO DONE IT? (directed by Basil Dearden, Ealing Studios, 1956, 5*) - The plot is secondary in this fast moving Benny Hill comedy of a private detective who keeps brushing with the real police (in the shape of the superb Garry Marsh). There are some nice moments with a machine that can change the weather, some fun at the 1956 Radio Show and one of the best chase finales, all capped with Phil Green's lively score. Personally, I far prefer this less innuendoed version of BH

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ACCOUNT RENDERED (1957, directed by Peter Graham Scott, Southall Studios, 6*) - Well defined main characters with tensions at breaking point. Banker Robert (Griffith Jones) has been tipped off about his wife Lucille's infidelity, and he follows her first to artist Clive's studio, then to a tryst on Hampstead Heath. It's bad luck that he trips up and comes round only to be told his wife has been found strangled. Inspector Marshall (Ewen Solon) sifts through the red herrings as "attractive unmarried" Sarah (Honor Blackman) consoles the widower in this very typical British thriller, done so well. "I'm beyond making sense out of anything any more," cries Robert as he learns of another of his wife's lovers, then another... "This is going to ruin us!"

THE ADVENTURES OF HAL 5 (1957, directed by Don Sharp, Halliford Studios, 6*)- A stylish children's film, set in an idyllic rural world, this is almost the Black Beauty for vintage cars, "never had this trouble with horses." She's a 1928 Austin that Dicey, new owner of Netherwood Farm has to reluctantly sell. At the garage bad Mr Goorlie (John Glyn-Jones) gives him only 40 then sells it for 100 to the vicar Rev Hayward (the personable William Russell), "what a mug." Though his nephew Charles (Peter Godsell) and niece (Janina Faye) love it, "it seems a very noisy car," and several dubious repairs later the vicar has to sell it back to the "cheat" for a mere 20. But Hal 5 teaches the crooked Goorlie a lesson or two, forcing him into Dicey's pond. It all ends happily with Hal restored like new

THE BIG CHANCE (1957, directed by Peter Graham Scott, Southall Stduios, 4*)- Bill (William Russell), a disillusioned travel agent takes his chance to start again in Panama, calmly robbing his employer's safe and smuggling his fortune through customs. It all goes so well until he is thwarted by that bad old standby, London fog. His flight postponed, having met up with Diana (Adrienne Corri) who is running away from her rich husband, they seek refuge in an isolated weekender's cottage, "you don't look like a murderer." They are spotted here, police called, and they have to dash away, it's a drama of frustrating problems, a poor man's 39 Steps. Moment of truth for Bill, this life of adventure is not for him. An exciting car chase brings on the crisis, but the ending is well done, not as obvious as I'd expected

BLACK TIDE (aka Stormy Crossing- 1957, directed by C Pennington Richards, Alliance Studios Southall, 6*) - Griff (John Ireland) is training his brother Danny (Sheldon Lawrence) for a go at the record on the Cross Channel swim, but improbably, his main rival, appears to be Kitty, a model. They have one thing in common however, wanting "result without the effort." Bad fog thwarts their joint swim, and worse Kitty is drowned, though we know that it's her secret lover, her manager Seymour (Derek Bond) who has murdered her. When Inspector Parry (John Horsley) and the coroner declare Death by Misadventure, Danny turns detective, as he'd fallen for Kitty's charms, though his big mistake is definitely informing Seymour. When he's disposed of too, Griff takes up inquiries, breaking Seymour's alibi by unearthing a speedboat named Hell Cat. But Seymour has now got to silence a third victim, Shelley Baxter (Maureen Connell), who's quietly fallen for Griff, giving us the tensest part when she is kidnapped, "I'm afraid you know too much to be good for you"

CAT GIRL (1957, directed by Alfred Shaughnessy, Beaconsfield Studios, 5*)- The doomed Miss Leonora (Barbara Shelley) has been sent for by her uncle to pass on to her the family curse and "a life of horror." This darkly sinister moody film has all the looks of Hammer but isn't, "you cannot escape your destiny!" Possessed by the shadow of a leopard, Leonora is badly in need of a shrink, enter her former admirer Dr Brian (Robert Ayres), now married. He vainly tries to delve her split personality, "the leopard was my other self." She can make it kill her husband, and why not Brian's wife? Along London's ill lit streets stalks the leopard, the ending is poetic,which the doc takes with extraordinary calmness

CLOAK WITHOUT DAGGER (1957 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Joseph Sterling, 2*)- Philip Friend was always an ideal B film suave lead- here he's Felix alias Enrico, a waiter in a London hotel. Once a major in the war catching spies, he's now finally about to track down his quarry who eluded him ten years ago. Now, as then, his ex-girl Kyra gets in the way! When she stumbles over a corpse which later is seen alive she realises "something phoney going on here." She breaks into a top secret nuclear base to thwart the spy before learning, what we all guessed, that Felix is going to catch him anyway. Leslie Dwyer as a detective gets the last laugh, literally

DANGER LIST (Exclusive Films short directed by Leslie Arliss in 1957, 4*) 3 outpatients at Wolseley General are given a dangerous drug in error. Dr Bennett (Philip Friend) and Miss Freeman (Honor Blackman) race to contact them, finding an old man and a girl. However Mr Ellis (Mervyn Johns), knowing there's "no hope" for his wife, turns this into an early drama on mercy killing.

DEVIL'S PASS (1957, directed by Darcy Conyers, Viking Studios Kensington, 4*)- Young Jim (Christopher Warbey, who made a few CFF films) has stowed away on board The Cascade, frightened of some of his mates at the Orphan Boys' Home in Brixham. He overhears the captain (Archie Duncan) planning to wreck the 70 year old trawler to claim the insurance. But the former owner Bill Buckle (John Slater) has longed for years to reclaim the vessel for himself. There are pleasing touches of humour and sentiment in the film's plodding way, though not much drama as Bill tries not to go down with his first love, and with help from "Jim boy" The Cascade be a-saved from crashin' on the rocks

THE FLYING SCOT (1957, directed by Compton Bennett, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- On board the night London express are young newlyweds, but their luggage is unusual: tools to remove parts of their compartment. Target, the adjacent section which is full of bags of money. These are chucked overboard at a pre-arranged point- easy! It is twelve minutes before there is any dialogue, what we have seen is the plan for the job. Inevitably the real thing hits problems: the compartment is slightly different in construction, a drunk interrupts, not to mention the obnoxious boy, and the boss Phil's ulcer perforates. This is one of those films of frustration, just too protracted to enjoy

FORTUNE IS A WOMAN (1957, directed by Sidney Gilliat, Shepperton Studios, 8*)- Unjustly neglected among Jack Hawkins' films, this is a stylish enigmatic thriller adapted from a Winston Graham novel. It starts so well with a nightmarish car drive in driving rain into the extensive grounds of Lowis Manor Sussex. This dark sequence recurs several times through the film. A fire has destroyed a valuable painting in the house, and insurance adjustor Oliver Bramwell, that's Hawkins, has to make his report, even though it's Christmas Eve. In fact Sarah, the wife of the owner is an old flame, and after a meal out, in pouring rain she gets soaked and has to dry out, the expression is, in Oliver's flat.
Hawkins adds his usual integrity to a man caught in a marital dilemma, his professional role compromised when he stumbles on to the fact that the painting was faked, but then worse as a second more disastrous fire ravages Lowis Manor, the object seemingly the murder of Sarah's husband (Dennis Price). Worst for Oliver is the probability that Sarah is responsible. "I shouldn't think she'll stay a widow for long," as she inherits the fortune, and indeed, despite the typical attack of conscience from Jack Hawkins, Oliver convinces himself that Sarah is innocent and marries the woman.
All could have been happiness and light except for a messenger, smooth and unpleasant (Bernard Miles), who delivers a blackmail threat. But some neat detective work leads to the blackmailer, though the murder proves harder to solve.
Oliver does admit his failings to his employer in a frank confession, typical of Jack Hawkins, then there's the denouement in the ravaged Lowis Manor, one final twist. Though the ending is rather too optimistic, this is an absorbing film noir, typified by lines such as, "did you do anything but hide the truth?"

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE (1957, directed by Don Chaffey, 4*)- Evening Echo crime reporter John Deering (Donald Houston) is on to the unsolved murder four years ago of PC James Keith. A photo of the stolen car LMM302 is printed in his paper, and in it a girl is waving at the driver. Deering traces the location of the picture, then the girl, a model named Pat Dryden, while Det Insp Bliss is also hot on the trail. Pat leads John to the driver of the stolen vehicle, Bates, whose boss Rod has to silence. That only needs Pat to be done in. A neat little thriller, though the characters are disappointingly colourless

HOW TO MURDER A RICH UNCLE (1957, directed by Nigel Patrick, 5*)- Sir Henry (Nigel Patrick) prepares for a visit from Uncle George, his brother who had emigrated to the USA and become a millionaire. His "mad scheme" to pay for death duties, is to be effected via George's death. 'Tis a tale of failed accidents, shooting- twice- poison, drowning, trip on the stairs, "something might easily go wrong." Of course it does each time, Henry's extended family gradually decimated, the fun being in who will be next to go. Though it's all too too obvious, this light black comedy is saved by endearing acting, specially from Katie Johnson and Athene Seyler. I liked the final scene too

THE KEY MAN (1957 directed by Montgomery Tully, 3*) - Wide boy Lionel Hume (Lee Patterson) sets out to write the story of Arthur Smithers who'd been arrested for the murder of his confederate on VE Night. Several people tell him Smithers is now dead, so Hume tries to locate Mrs Smithers (Hy Hazell), who is a stage star. When she is found she introduces Hume to her husband, still breathing, who offers a share of his robberies if he'll collect it. There's a car chase through some pretty quiet London streets before a very long final explanation

KILL ME TOMORROW (1957, directed by Terence Fisher, Southall Studios, 4*)- Jaded reporter Bart Crosby is a "self pitying drunk," a widower. His life changes when he learns his son has contracted a fatal eye disease, only a delicate and expensive operation can save him. Needing a grand, he leans on the gang whom he knows killed his boss. As he has motive, Bart is ready to take the rap, in exchange for the cash to help his boy. I'm not sure which is the more embarrassing, his twee son Jimmy cuddling his teddy, or Tommy Steele gyrating at the El Rico Club. It also takes some suspension of your faculties to see the iconic but ageing Pat O'Brien as Bart knocking out ex-boxer Freddie Mills single handedly, marginally less believable than his romance with Lois Maxwell

A LADY MISLAID (1957, directed by David MacDonald, Welwyn Studios, 5*)- Not for cinema purists, since this is a condensed version of a Kenneth Horne play. "Supporter of the unlucky," Esther (Phyllis Calvert) and her sister Jennifer move into lovely Manor Cottage for "peace and quiet." But local gossip suggests Mrs Smith, wife of the previous owner is dead, buried somewhere in the house. The police commence digging. Observes the plaintive Esther of Inspector Bullock "it isn't as though he's any good!" Then Mr Smith appears with an explanation- "everything you say seems so improbable." Whilst there is nearly an element of whodunnit and horror, this remains a gentle and rather nice little comedy.

MAN-EATER (1957, directed by Compton Bennett, Beaconsfield Studios, 0*)- Playgirl Betty and her drunken husband George (Lee Patterson) go on safari with "the best" John Hunter (Rhodes Reason). First part of the film with some stock footage, interspersed with the actors crawling round the studio bushes, is almost a travelogue. For patrons who haven't quit the cinema, finally the drunk somehow manages to get lost in the studio and Betty makes eyes at Rick (Patrick Holt): "I aim to please." Still awake?- then see the lion hunt after "a crazed cat," more a dummy actually, but maybe Betty is the real Man Eater. One of the many grimly awful lines is this neat one from Lee Patterson: "If a man is going to go on living, he might be able to do one thing right, even if that's just dying." Incredible, but they made a tv series, White Hunter, on the back of this trash

MAN FROM TANGIER (1957, directed by Lance Comfort, 2*)- Armstrong has nicked a valuable case. Michele (Lisa Gastoni) is sent to London to retrieve it. Stuntman Chuck Collins accidentally takes Armstrong's coat at Victoria Station, becoming embroiled in the hunt for the case and the mystery of Armstrong's death falling out of a hotel window. "What kind of mess are you in?" Michele pals up with Chuck, but she gets kidnapped. Robert Hutton plays the lead, ideal you might say, as he's well suited to the dull script. The best part I would say, goes to Jack Allen, who adds a touch of comedy with his role as Rex

MARK OF THE PHOENIX (1957, directed by Maclean Rogers, Walton Studios, 3*)- The world's greatest jewel thief, Chuck Martin, flies in to Brussels to flog a necklace to Maurice Duser (Eric Pohlmann), A rare stolen alloy is planted in Chuck's hotel room, one that Duser is hoping to sell to a foreign power. Duser's improbable fiancee Petra (Julia Arnall) ditches Duser for Chuck, "now there's a man," while Inspector Schell (Anton Diffring, for once a goodie) tries to thwart the plot which apparently would make a mockery of Western defences. Duser's two cronies (George Margo and Michael Peake) make bungle numerous attempts to retrieve the alloy ("what went wrong this time?"), as the story stumbles along until Chuck does the decent thing and stops the Commie plot. Best lines:
Anton Diffring: You don't know much about international crime, mademoiselle. Julia Arnall: But I do know about men

THE NAKED TRUTH (1957, directed by Mario Zampi, Walton Studios, 8*)- A host of fine stars are perhaps upstaged by Terry-Thomas as Lord Mayley, a deserving victim of a suave blackmailer (Dennis Price, ideally cast). In this light black comedy, his Lordship is only one of the many victims who vainly attempt to do away with their nemesis. Miles Malleson as a vicar makes an improbable fiance for Peggy Mount, and Joan Sims is the only one who really hams it up as Peggy Mount's petrified daughter. "Murder is so unEnglish," Terry-Thomas comments after another botched attempt but the film itself is no botch, rather a delightful example of English humour with Lord Mayley finally solving the dilemma: "we've just been killing ourselves trying to murder him!"

NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957, directed by Jacques Tourneur, ABPC Elstree Studios, 5*)- A night monster attacks the petrified Prof Harrington in an impressively photgraphed opening. A sceptical psychologist Dr Holden takes over the prof's attempted expose of the dark Julian Karswell, he of the black arts. You have but three days to live, Karswell warns the good doctor. The weakness of the film is the lead, Dana Andrews, whose typical bland acting style takes this threat without batting an eyelid, dismissing Karswell as "a harmless faker." I don't like the brash style of Columbia's films either, nor could you treat with anything except as a laugh Peter Elliott's anticipation of Peter Sellers' Indian character. More endearing, and a fine contrast to the evil around her, is Athene Seyler, dear mother of the wicked Karswell, while Peggy Cummins is adequately attractive as the vulnerable heroine Joanna. Creaking doors, howling wind, bayi ng hounds, flashing lightning convey the chilling mood, with other familiar features such as the clutching hand, the black cat and a lunatic driven mad by the sinister Karswell. "All evil must end" and it does on the 9.45 to Southampton. Fate intervenes in another impressive black/white sequence of hokum. Yes, "maybe it's better not to know"

ROCK YOU SINNERS (1957, directed by Denis Kavanagh, 3*)- If you are into films from the Fancey stable, this is their high(ish) spot. Interesting rock scenes in a huge dance hall, some aspiring imitators, primitive maybe, but really wild, chick. The worst song sung by actor Colin Croft is simply embarrassing, and other songs are simply semi-rock versions of calypso, blues, dixieland, and even music hall, with I Do Like To be Beside The Seaside in rock. Nevertheless some enjoyable numbers, including Don Sollash with some style in Rock n Roll Blues, a lively little Pat Barry in Stop It I Like It, Art Baxter with the title number and the best known Tony Crombie. The storyline, such as it be, is the familiar one of putting on a show, this one for tv. Best of the awful lines are, to the tv producer: "What do you think of it sir?" His incredible response is, "Very good, very good indeed." Perhaps posterity isn't so kind

SECOND FIDDLE (1957, directed by Maurice Elvey, Shepperton Studios, 4*) - "Dignity, discretion and decorum" is the motto of an advertising agency. In the hands of old timers Bill Fraser and Richard Wattis this story is given a lively start, but the contemporary question of employing married women at the firm is given such stodgy treatment that the film starts to flounder. It picks up again in the hands of the first married couple allowed to work for the company, Charles (Thorley Walters) and Debs (Adrienne Corri) but when He has to play second fiddle to Her burgeoning career, He nearly ends up in the arms of His secretary Pauline (Lisa Gastoni). But of course he doesn't quite, like the film itself, which, though quite fun, never quite hits the mark

SMALL HOTEL (1957, directed by David Macdonald, AB Elstree Studios, 5*)- Head waiter Albert at the Jolly Fiddler "came before the electric light," but now he's to be replaced by "jumped-up trollop" Miss Mallett (Billie Whitelaw). Gordon Harker, in his penultimate film, acts with his usual efficiency and sparks off well with veteran Marie Lohr as a resident guest. As a contrast Janet Munro in her first film plays a new waitress shown the ropes by wily old Albert, whilst Irene Handl holds the downstairs, and the film together: "I rule the roast here!" Albert proves too wily for the new girl in this stagey play that harks nicely back to "more comfortable days." Comments Albert when his wiles have been a success, in a steal from George Formby: "turned out nice again!"

THE SOLITARY CHILD (1957, directed by Gerald Thomas, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*)- Captain James Random (Philip Friend) has remarried after being acquitted of shooting Eva his first wife. His 16 year old daughter Maggie is the image of her mother, "I'm backward," though she never very convincingly conveys this to us. She draws violent scenes of shooting, the truth surrounding Eva's death gets lost however in a surfeit of dialogue. "Get away from this place, before you run into any more accidents," Maggie warns second wife Harriet (Barbara Shelley), who is finally told all that Maggie witnessed the fateful night of Eva's death. James gives a rather different version. Alone, at home, Harriet is very vulnerable

THE SPANIARD'S CURSE (1957, directed by Ralph Kemplen, Walton Studios, 5*) - Guy Stevenson is convicted of murdering Zoe Taylor. "I didn't kill her," he swears, also condemning his judge and jury to another trial in the Assize of the Dying. The judge's ward Margaret believes him innocent, as does Mark Brett (Lee Patterson), Zoe's half brother. Though the judge's wayward son Charles (Tony Wright) cannot take life at all seriously, the judge himself (beautifully played by Michael Hordern) takes the threat very calmly, matching the stately pace of the film. The characters are very well drawn, but at the expense of the potential tension from the executed man's promise. There is a slightly sinister shooting in a churchyard as the killer is exposed, "you would find it wouldn't you?" The judge's final dilemma is the best part of the film

THE SPANIARD'S CURSE (directed by Ralph Kemplen, Walton Studios, 1957, 4*) - A condemned prisoner says he'll meet his false accusers and his judge at "The Assize of the Living." The foreman of the jury is promptly run over and death stalks the other recipients of this curse. Unusual, but largely unsuccessful thriller with Lee Patterson, Michael Hordern and Tony Wright

THE STRANGE WORLD OF PLANET X (1957, directed by Gilbert Gunn, National Studios Elstree, 3*)- Dr Laird's new assistant into research in magnetic fields is Michelle, a woman, "this is preposterous!" More welcoming is Dr Gilbert Graham. Electrical storms are created by the experiments and one local tramp is so affected by cosmic rays that he attacts a local woman. The effect on insect life is more alarming for a schoolgirl finds a giant egg, "I don't like the look of it." Nor does the local teacher. Michelle isn't too happy either since she is entangled in a huge spider's web. The army all guns blazing somehow put an end to these non-frightening monsters. The mysterious Mr Smith from another planet helps destroy Dr Laird who has transformed into your traditional crazed scientist

A STRANGER IN TOWN (1957 directed by George Pollock, Alliance Studios Southall 4*)- The "row" that a pianist is making as the film starts during a storm deserves to end with his being bumped off. Musician David has allegedly committed suicide, depressed, though unfortunately- for us- his music lives on in his recording of his concerto. Reporter John (Alex Nicol) sets out to disprove the suicide theory, for "life couldn't have been sweeter for him." Snooping, the death of Miss Smith, and a fight lead John to Matthews Farm and the secret od a young girl bewitched by the romantic pianist. That turns out a red herring in this intermittently absorbing film in which another brooding storm ushers in the finale, "you won't leave here again, ever"

STRANGERS' MEETING (1957, directed by Robert Day, Twickenham Studios, 1*)- Harry (Peter Arne) fights with fellow trapeze artist Johnny, but though it's Rosie who kills him, it's Harry who is sent to Dartmoor. To find her, he breaks out of prison, is shot in the leg, and has to be treated by Dr David Sanders (Conrad Phillips). "Feels fine, doc," Harry's payment consists in doping him. Here's one of those frustrating storylines in which Harry searches for Rosie, the doctor's distrustful wife (Delphi Lawrence) tries to locate her husband, while he chases after her, the story going round in circles, headless chickens is the phrase, until there is Rosie, no great actress, in a final dubious showdown of cliches. The implausible story is summed up in the question, "why didn't you tell them at the trial?"

THE TROLLENBERG TERROR (1957, Alliance Studios, dir Quentin Lawrence, 2*) - In 2006 we reviewed a few of Robert Baker and Monty Berman's films. Here's another, with the traditional American star, in this film Forrest Tucker. The Terror is a radioactive cloud hovering over a Swiss mountain. A mind reading act provide the two most absorbing characters: Janet Munro is taken over by some alien body whilst sister Jennifer Jayne acts as a model of normality: "It's insane, we should try to get out." As so often, the terror is largely understated until the end when we meet a tentacled monster, and then it's a matter of trying not to laugh. "What do you do against these things?" Of course the answer to that is you get your American genius to kill the beast

UNDERCOVER GIRL (directed by Francis Searle, Twickenham Studios, 1957, 3*)- Johnny (Paul Carpenter) investigates his brother-in-law's death. He uncovers a racket where perpetrators of car accidents are blackmailed by an evil gang whose boss is played by Bruce Seton

THE VICIOUS CIRCLE (1957, directed by Gerald Thomas, Beaconsfield Studios, 6*)- The body of a German actress is found by mild Dr Latimer (John Mills) in his flat. The blunt instrument of death turns up in the boot of his Daimler: "this is fantastic." Inspector Dane (Roland Culver) receives Latimer's explanations with a deadly calm. "Unless I can prove to the police my story is true, I'm in a jam." Here's the familiar Francis Durbridge plot of an innocent sucked into a cunning frame-up he cannot fathom. "Leave the country now, before it's too late," advises one of his lying patients. But it is too late, for he stumbles over her dead body. Forged passports are behind the subterfuge and the good doctor cooperates with the police to catch the rignleader.
Perhaps this line sums it all up neatly: "suppose you stop talking in riddles and come to the point."

YOU PAY YOUR MONEY (1957, directed by MacLean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Steve has a new admirer in Mrs Delgado (Jane Hylton) but his pals Bob and Susie (Honor Blackman) can see she's "the feeblest liar in the business." She's in league with the shadowy League of the Friends of Arabia. Bob is sent by Steve to collect a consignment sent by boat, as the rendezvous is at three in the morning, it's evident some dirty work is afoot. The League grab the goods, valuable books, as well as Susie, and this could allegedly "set the whole of the Middle East aflame." The film moves at a stately pace, nice and straightforward, eking about a half hour plot into an hour, with Hugh McDermott as Bob occasionally threatening to add some spark to proceedings

THE YOUNG AND THE GUILTY (1957, directed by Peter Cotes, AB Elstree Studios, 4*)- Bright physics student Eddie "lives in a dream", but has just discovered Girls, or more precisely one girl, 16 year old Sue. A very innocent friendship, but Sue's overbearing father (Edward Chapman), who wouldn't survive these days, sees evil in this "affair." "I haven't done anything wrong," protests the innocent Eddie. After all, he goes to chapel every Sunday. A storm in a teacup, and a very tedious one too, not one of Ted Willis' better scripts. "All you can see is filth," rightly complains Eddie- "maybe he's working too hard," is the best line, this from his mother, who has the best cameo, played by Hilda Fenemore, though Phyllis Calvert as her opposite number is the official star. After a surfeit of words, a smattering of action when, Romeo-like, Eddie announces himself at Sue's window, a tender scene well acted, though ultimately too wordy in keeping with the whole film. Of course they're found out: "ring up the police!" So does Sue's father know best? The ending can't really resolve the situation in this piece of Fifties' social history of the generation gap, that concludes with a roundabout discussion of "that"

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Reviews of some 1958 films

THE BANK RAIDERS (1958, directed by Maxwell Munden, St John's Wood Studios, 5*)- By the Southern Bank hovers a suspicious man disguised as Arthur Mullard. His boss, old hand at playing such characters Sydney Tafler, has the job carefully planned. The raid is simply filmed with a minimum of music, tension well built up. Pipe smoking Inspector Mason (Lloyd Lamble) calmly investigates, rather helped by the third member of the gang Terry Milligan (Peter Reynolds) who is flashing round his share of the loot, with the help of good time girl Della (Sandra Dorne). An eyewitness could identify Milligan but is nobbled- "my dear, how horrible," the scenes at the home of friends of the eyewitness are the weakest part of the film. Exit Arthur Mullard who has decided Milligan needs silencing, then spurred on by Della, Terry Milligan falls out with his boss. "Terry, put that gun away, don't be a fool." Inspector Mason pounces

BLIND SPOT (1958, directed by Peter Maxwell, Walton Studios, 3*)- This is a disappointing remake of Blackout made eight years previously, lacking any style, using the same basic plot, especially in the first half, but with different outcomes. The star, Robert Mackenzie, sadly exudes no charisma at all. He plays blind Captain Dan Adams who is given a lift by his US Army buddy Harry to Joe's party in Richmond. But he's dropped off in the wrong road where he trips over a dead man. The corpse had lived in the house, Johnny a pilot who had apparently died a while back in a plane crash. His sister June helps Dan, now with his sight restored, to solve the mystery, Dan motivated by the killing of his pal Joe who is done in in mistake for Dan. Johnny's girl friend Yvonne lures Dan into captivity at The Grange.
The plot has the same mix up over addresses at the start in Lindale Square, but the remake fails to have any subtlety in the relationship of the ex-blind man and the pilot's sister, the figure of June sadly watered down from Dinah Sheridan's original. There is an utter absence of any romance. The character of the pilot's best friend (Chalky, played by Gordon Jackson in the remake) comes out very differently, though I felt the remake gave a better motivation for the blind man's pursuit of justice, with the murder of his friend. At least this 1958 remake does boast Michael Caine. Yet for stunning dark settings, and for atmosphere, the original is far superior.

CAT AND MOUSE (1958, directed by Paul Rotha, Halliford Studios, 5*)- Miss Coltby (Ann Sears) is offered 10,000 for the diamonds her convicted father has stolen. When she kills her tormentor accidentally, Rod (Lee Patterson) helps her get rid of the corpus dilecti. She falls for him and so he hides out in her house. That's when she realises he's really after those diamonds too. After that she's kept there a prisoner, and spends a frustrating time trying to get away. However our intrepid police are slowly on her trail. Like this film, slow's the word, but the chase after the diamonds at least yields a rewarding finale. Perhaps Edwin Astley's Rockin' Lovin' Baby is the best feature!

DUBLIN NIGHTMARE (1958, directed by John Pomeroy, Twickenham Studios, 2*)- A creaky actress and intrusive music (unusually from Edwin Astley) get the story off on the wrong foot, though I liked the early morning shots of the deserted Dublin streets. We see members of 'The Movement' set off on their robbery of a security van. Stephen never comes back, nor does the cash. In the city for a reunion with Stephen is his old buddy John Kevin (William Sylvester) who identifies a body killed in a car crash as that of his friend. With Stephen's girl Anna, he sets out to discover what happened. In an Irish pub, he finds his old pal for a complicated explanation and a showdown, "you must be mad"

THE DIPLOMATIC CORPSE (1958 Pinewood, directed by Montgomery Tully, produced by Francis Searle, 4*) - It's Harry Fowler, with shady hat strolling idly round the docks, looking suspicious. He spots a brief case being chucked overboard the Electro. Reporter Mike and his fiancee Jenny (Susan Shaw) investigate when the case's owner is found murdered. He's a diplomat and Jenny gets imprisoned in his embassy ("this is England, you can't get away with this!") before she's rescued by an obscure interpretation of extradition law. Robin Bailey as Mike lends some polished integrity to a slight story

DUBLIN NIGHTMARE (1958, directed by John Pomeroy, Twickenham Studios, 2*)- Four IRA men rob a bank security van in a nicely filmed sequence, but their getaway car crashes. Stephen is killed, and his innocent American buddy John Kevin (William Sylvester) is asked to identify the corpse. But someone is soon after John, and he with Steve's girlfriend attempt to track down the crook who has evidently absconded with the cash for himself. The truth dawns on us long before it does on John. Never anything of a 'Nightmare,' John has a philosophical showdown with the villain in a dingy hotel room, before a more conventional punchup and IRA justice. The Dublin locations help, Sylvester is always convincing, but even he must have found it hard to wreak any excitement out of this plodding thriller

THE HEART WITHIN (1958, directed by David Eady, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- Joe, a crooked immigrant in London, is shot after a row over Violet with honest but poor Victor (Earl Cameron). The premise of the film is Victor's belief that "a coloured man is guilty until he's proved innocent," though young Danny (David Hemmings) and his grandfather (James Hayter) show enough faith in him to give him shelter and prove his innocence by exposing the narcotics racket behind the killing. Danny winds up in the clutches of the killer as the film discards its racial overtones in favour of a more conventional crime thriller, and though the Caribbean music is certainly different, I found it wearing. In a novel conclusion, Victor rescues Danny

I ONLY ARSKED (1958, directed by Montgomery Tully, Bray Studios,1*)- This film version of TV's Army Game fails partly because some of the original cast are absent. How can you have Alfie Bass without Bill Fraser? William Hartnell too isn't in the film, though David Lodge is a good substitute. Then, moving five of the unit to the Middle East where a civil war is brewing, is not a comedy situation and the cast are clearly going through the motions knowing that the script is failing them, even when they are pampered (an obvious storyline!) in the king's harem. Bernard Bresslaw tries to seduce rebel soldiers and also sings a song that really made me cringe. Fans of the tv show would be disappointed, but nowadays we know better that the path to the big screen is a thorny one

KILL HER GENTLY (1958 directed by Charles Saunders, 4*) Two escaped prisoners are picked up on the road by Jeff Martin (Griffith Jones). Though he knows who they are, he offers them 1,000 to do a job for him. Things go wrong when one crook takes a fancy to Mrs Martin, the one he's supposed to kill. Then he tries it on with the flirty maid, and she gets shot. Then Jeff can't raise the cash too easily, and she tells them he's a recently discharged loony. She begins to understand her husband's nasty plan, which starts to veer dangerously out of control

LAW AND DISORDER (1958 directed by Charles Crichton, AB Elstree Studios, 5*)- this is a second feature with a main feature star cast. Rev Percy returns periodically from missionary work to see his beloved Colin, but he is in fact a con artist, unkonown to his son who has now grown up and become a barrister. Percy retires to the coast but the lure of smuggling brandy with the local colonel is too strong, and after a con trick he faces the prospect of a court appearance in proximity to his son. The second part of the film shows delaying tactics, first with an absurd case of a parrot, played with some dignity. Case closed, only one course is left, to kidnap the judge, that's a frost too but it leads to the best moment when the judge (Robert Morley) arrives for court with Percy (Michael Redgrave) in a Black Maria. Reliable support from Allan Cuthbertson (the police inspector) and Meredith Edwards (the blundering local bobby), as well as Joan Hickson as Percy's sister, Ronald Squire as the colonel, Harold Goodwin as the chauffeur and one scene from the ubiquitous Irene Handl. Lionel Jeffries is rather wasted however

MODEL FOR MURDER (1958, directed by Terry Bishop, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- This thriller never really sparks into life, only Michael Gough I liked, at his imperious suave best as the splendidly named Kingsley Beauchamp, a couturier in financial straits. As an assistant at his fashion house, Hazel Court is as reliable as ever. Then there's fine support from a host of fine actors, Alfred Burke and Edwin Richfield as two thieves robbing Beauchamp's safe, and George Benson as Ramsbottom, rich fiance to 'the' model Diane Leigh (Julia Arnall). She interrupts the thieves and is knifed. No, the trouble is that chief suspect American David is unconvincing, it's a part Paul Carpenter would have excelled in. David does the usual thing, prove his innocence, though he makes an error in confiding in Beauchamp but after some mundane scrapes, Inspector Duncan pounces, with naturally a lot of help from dull David

ROOM 43 (1958, directed by Alvin Rakoff, Walton Studios, 3*)- French waitress 'Malou' is tricked by Aggie, so is taxi driver Johnny by the wealthy Nick (Herbert Lom), who runs a house of "working girls" including Vicki (Diana Dors), who "entertains." I don't think the technical term was ever used. Another subterfuge sees Malou having to marry for convenience. Victim- Johnny. But they are actually attracted to each other, and she rebels when she is told by Nick that "she will be reserved for special duties- and me." As she won't comply, she is drugged, more 1960s style this, then tricked into thinking she is a murderess. That's improbable. She is forced on to the streets, where Johnny sees her and saves her from her fate. Nick must have his revenge, but gets his comeuppance in an exaggerated finish. The trouble is the plot tries for realism but fails, and the characters are unconvincing, except maybe Eddie Constantine as Johnny

THE SECRET MAN (1958, directed by Ronald Kinnoch. 4*) - Dr Clifford Mitchell (Marshall Thompson) is completing his top secret research. When he is kidnapped, he refuses to divulge anything despite being tortured. However the kidnapper is Major Anderson of Special Branch (John Loder),trying to trace a leak where the scientist works. "I want the man at the top, his name is Vance." Mitchell disappears again with all his papers. A mystery woman picks him up, introducing him to an agent who wants the papers. But Mitchell insists on only talking to the top man, who is very shy, only talking to him via a two way radio. After more subterfuge, he gets close to him for a chase through derelict buildings

SWEET BEAT (1958, directed by Ronnie Albert, on location, 3*)- Bonnie from Exeter (Julie Amber) is a winner in a Butlin's glamour contest and we see her meteoric rise to semi stardom, the traditionally thin story laced with some rather unsweet songs. In fact easily the best tune was Tony Crombie's opening number Otherwise I quite enjoyed Leoni Page with Your Careless Caresses. Bonnie is whisked to the Stork Club with her friend Bill (Sheldon Lawrence), to the recording studio, whirled to Radio Luxembourg where we meet somebody we've heard of, Keith Fordyce, then some plot as Bonnie only comes third in the Holiday Princess beauty finals. That causes a rift with Bill and she swans off to New York lured by her agent, a married man, but with Designs. If popular music had developed differently, we might have been watching a cult film here, but as it is the most interesting parts are the glimpses behind the scenes, the best is that most of the singers have great voices, but a lot of the acting seems to me rep level, and the tunes, though they do have some beat are definitely not real cutting edge rock.

VIOLENT MOMENT (1958, directed by Sydney Hayers, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)- 'Moment' is very apt, there's only a brief strangling scene at the start, Daisy Hacker (Jane Hylton) is done in by her boyfriend Doug (Lyndon Brook) after she adopts their two year old son Jiffy, just when the doting Doug had bought him a talking doll for his birthday. The film shows Doug starting a new life, since the police inspector (Bruce Seton) is pretty un-Fabian like in failing to track down the murderer. Doug works his way up the business of garage owner Bert (Rupert Davies) and makes his secretary Janet (Jill Browne) his fiancee. He's a success, but that toy is, indirectly, his undoing. The denouement is slow and inevitable, but well done, for when Janet's flat is burgled, Doug cannot but give himself away, with hardly a whimper

WOMANEATER (1958, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 3*) - The opening line: "it's a lot of nonsense" is the most believable line in a plot about a doctor (George Coulouris) who sacrifices women to a fearsome plant which then provides him, he hopes, with a serum to bring the dead back to life. Coulouris, with his quiet dignity, tries hard to make it all seem credible, as killing leads to more killing. Sally (Vera Day) is permitted to witness the triumph of his late housewife being returned to the living. In the best tradition, of course she's now only half-human and wreaks her revenge...

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My reviews of Films from 1959
(In alphabetical order)

BEYOND THIS PLACE (1959, directed by Jack Cardiff, Walton Studios, 7*)- Paul has returned to his home city of Liverpool to discover his father whom he has not seen for 20 years is a convicted murderer. The film has the advantage of some fine location shooting, but the disadvantage of an unconvincing star (Van Johnson). The case against his father Patrick Mathry is by no means watertight, fixed according to one drunk ex-copper. The prosecutor, now Sir Matthew, has a lot to lose, and blusters, "I'll stake my career on it." The arresting officer, now Chief Superintendent Dale ditto. But one man, Oswald has fought to obtain Mathry's reprieve from execution. At the seedy Grapevine Club, Paul makes up to owner Louise whose money must have come from blackmailing the real killer. To prove the case, Paul has to elude the aggressive police, "I can't give up," he tells Lena, a librarian with her own problems. It's the power of the press that moves the case to a conclusion, perhaps changing the mood of this film, but it changes again with an unhappy reunion with his embittered dad, "I never did the murder, but it's what murdered me." Paul steals the vital evidence to bring on an emotional scene with the killer, "you are the avenging angel"

THE CHALLENGE (1959 directed by John Gilling, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- The opening music with its semi nudity puts this into the 1960s (it was released in 1961), another giveaway being that 'The Boss' (Jayne Mansfield) is a dame planning and getting away with many daring robberies. It's all been done before but the night photography, and the little touches like the cat are well done, as well as the car chase and crash, burying the loot. The fall guy is Jim (Anthony Quayle), but only he knows where the 50,000 is and he is shopped, presumably so the evil Kristy can make off with the Boss. But when Jim comes out, the gang want the cash, so do the police, "they'll break you," simple method kidnap Jim's boy Joey. To repeat, it's all been done before, Jim almost irrationally refusing to give up his money, and he slowly disintegrates, as do the crooks. Several good twists later, and I might include here JM miming the title song, it ends in another chase, "I said I'd come for you." It's a pity the main characters are not more convincing and the ending is very contrived, but I enjoyed it

COVER GIRL KILLER (1959, directed by Terry Bishop, Walton Studios, 6*)- Harry H Corbett looks sinister in his thick pebble glasses and combed down wig: as Walter Spendoza he lures showgirl Gloria Stark to pose for photographs in the park (see picture). Inspector Brunner (Victor Brooks) plods methodically through the evidence: "we're not completely half-witted, you know." Some help comes from Johnny Mason, owner of the pinup mag Wow. Miss Torquay, on the front cover like Miss Stark is next to be killed: "your nudity means nothing to me," the killer tells her before strangling her. He even has the nerve to call at the Yard with some informnation on the murderer! A trap is set. June, Johnny's girl friend model, poses for Wow. She's then "guarded closer than the Crown Jewels," in this neat little thriller, but naturally June ends up alone with the madman...

DEADLY RECORD (1959, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)- Airline pilot Trevor (Lee Patterson) returns home to discover his wife Jenny, a dancer, is away. Next day police find her corpse at home, stabbed with Trevor's own knife. With help from Sue (Barbara Shelley), he discovers two suspects: Ramon her former dance partner, and her doctor who was having an affair with her. Though Supt Ambrose (Geoffrey Keen) seems sure Trevor is the killer, Jenny's "extremely frank" diary provides a deadly record as to the murderer's identity

THE EDMUNDO ROS HALF HOUR (1959, directed by Michael Carreras, AB Studios Elstree 2*)- This short is an excuse for a medley, I nearly wrote apology, of tunes by Ros' Latin American band, so popular at the time, though I confess I never succumbed to his charms. After a lively opening piece by the band, Ros introduces Mayfair Mambo. Ines del Carmen sings Ay Ay Ay, marginally less embarrassing than the start of the John Peel Samba, and both infinitely better than the alleged comedy in the next 'comedy' number by Morton Fraser's Harmonica Gang. Si Senor is more fun with ER singing and dancing with Ines, "you must bring your mother too." A mambo dance is more avant garde, almost, while Monte Carlo is ER's version of an old standard. ER sings the finale, something of a plug to come and see him at his London club

THE END OF THE LINE (1959, Southall Studios, directed by Charles Saunders, 5*) - Mike Selby, an American writer with a nice narrative line, is staying in a quiet Marlow hotel. He meets an old friend, now Mrs Crawford the manager's wife (Barbara Shelley). Says Mike- "the one thing, when you're close to her, your mind stopped thinking." She persuades him to steal her husband's fenced jewels. So what can go wrong? Well, there's a blackmailing private eye for starters, then Crawford is killed, and with Mike's automatic. Yes, in those days, films did show Crime does not Pay. This slow starting film develops a few pleasing twists. I ought to have known Fredy Mayne shouldn't have been trusted. "All you held," a repentant Mike tells himself," was the joker."

THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS (1959, directed by Maxwell Munden, St John's Wood Studios, 4*) -
Moody Jeff wants to be Alone, thus this provides an ideal part for Michael Gough. He and his wife Carol find the ideal country retreat but "there's a dark side to every man's heaven," and here the fly is Spencer (Ronald Howard) the owner of the cottage, an artist and an even more tortured soul than Jeff. What's his dark secret? It must be related to his late wife's early death, and that just before she would have inherited her aunt's fortune. "Spencer's going to murder you, "Jeff confides to Carol, and with their car immobilised, it gets quite exciting, ending in violent struggle, but somehow this 40 minute film is over before it has quite got going

HOUSE OF THE SEVEN HAWKS (1959, directed by Richard Thorpe, MGM Studios, 4*) - "I knock with seven" are the dying words of a Dutch policeman who'd chartered a ship piloted by a one man maverick Johnny (Robert Taylor). Victor Canning's novels are always complex and this film is full of shady double dealings as sailor, crook and cop try to unravel the dead man's secret. "I think you know more about my father than you told inspector." Another typical line is "you've been lying to me all along!" But unfortunately the characters aren't convincing enough to make a convincing story.

LIFE IN DANGER (1959, directed by Terry Bishop, Walton Studios, 4*)- Alec Miller has escaped from a prison for "criminal lunatics." He's a murderer. The film has some good studies of differing reactions to the danger: the calm Insp Bennett (Humphrey Lestocq) has to catch him, while the veteran Major (Howard Marion-Crawford) has his own idea of tracking down the villain, with his gun. Tension builds as The Man (Derren Nesbitt) is sheltered by the naive Hazel (Julie Hopkins- her last film) and her little brother Johnny. They listen to his stories in a barn, not quite like Whistle Down The Wind since the 16 year old girl is making eyes at him. The Major leads his posse to shoot the madman, the expected twist is well prepared

THE MAN WHO LIKE FUNERALS (1959, directed by David Eady, Twickenham Studios, 5*) - a gentle charm exudes from this unassuming film about the well meaning Simon Hurd (Leslie Phillips), who hits on a novel idea for raising the 4,000 needed to save a Boys' Cub. He attends the funerals of successful people. Firstly General Hunter, then informs his relatives that the general wrote a book on ballet dancing. For a consideration, Simon agrees not to publish. Next a late bishop who wrote intimate love poems, a Commie who had written a capitalist romance, and the headmistress of 'Rowdean' whose book is Sex And How To Get It. Simon comes unstuck with gangster Nick's Fairy Tales, "what would you like to die of?" He spends the rest of the film eluding his own funeral, and there are some pleasing lines on the way

NAKED FURY (1959, directed by Charles Saunders, 2*)- Impressive London night scenes as crooks drive to a disused warehouse after a 50,000 robbery. Unfortunately they've had to "bring along" the night watchman's daughter (Leigh Madison). Whilst boss Eddy guards her, the film loses momentum, following the rest of the gang- weak link is Syd (Arthur Lovegrove) whose embittered wife (Ann Lynn) wants her share Now! Johnny (Kenneth Cope) is being blakmailed whilst Steve (Tommy Eytle) gets desperate too. Best cameo is Denis Shaw as a ship captain who's to help them all escape, playing it in his best You Will Obey Orders- style. But everything falls apart, Syd murders his wife, Johnny tries to steal the loot, and the girl ("let's get acquainted,eh?") before justice punishes 'em all when the warehouse falls apart too, a bit like this whole film

THE NAVY LARK (1959, directed by Gordon Parry, Walton Studios, 4*)- "Underground skullduggery" aboard the Compton minesweeper. Captain Povey, Old Thunderguts, is out to stop it. Stock comedy with routines like the enjoyable Leslie Phillips defusing a mine that he knows is a dud, but isn't actually. Then there's feigning yellow fever, and "a tinpot revolution," only this pseudo battle ain't that funny. Leslie is the only survivor from the original radio series, which has little connection otherwise with this disappointingly bland film. I put it down to Twentieth Century Fox. Cecil Parker as officer in charge, and Ronald Shiner as the fiddler in stores provide adequate support, but look ill at ease, and not just because they're rumbled in the actual story

THE PRICE OF SILENCE (1959, directed by Montgomery Tully, Walton Studios, 7*)- Roger Fenton (Gordon Jackson) has begun a new life after serving a prison sentence for embezzling. Evidently following a novel, the story rushes on, as he gains experience in his new life as an estate agent working for 69 year old H Shipley, whose young bored wife Maria makes eyes at Roger, but he's more interested in recluse Audrey. 'The Slug' (Sam Kydd) is an old lag and Roger "has to keep his filthy trap shut," but his increased demands force Roger to resort to the only way out. The tension builds, but he finally rejects his crazy plan, thankfully, only to find himself charged with the murder of a wealthy client, killed in his office. Supt Wilson (Victor Brooks) untangles events, misled by Marcia's lies, and salvation for Roger comes from an unexpected source, "it's beginning to make sense now." A well worn theme, but well built up to a fine conclusion

AND THE SAME TO YOU (1959, Walton Studios, directed by George Pollock, 3*)- Impressive credits both behind the camera and in front somehow fail to live up to expectation, though the film starts promisingly with Miles Malleson as a bumbling bishop appointing a new vicar who finds his church hall is being used as a boxing venue. Leo Franklyn is the hapless vicar, assisted by his nephew theology student Brian Rix up against second rate boxing promoter William Hartnell and his useless helper Tommy Cooper, completely wasted. Sid James adds a pleasing cameo, though only a cameo, as does Terry Scott, while Dick Bentley is irritating as a bookie. The implausible plot gets too bogged down in the noble art, with William Hartnell, knowing the script is letting him down, overdoes it

SAPPHIRE (1959, directed by Basil Dearden, Pinewood, 4*) - Two kids at the start, underacting on Hampsetead Heath, rather set the tone for this early attempt to explore racial prejudice set against the murder of a young student, victim of a hate killing. Nigel Patrick adds authority as the shrewd investigating officer and Olga Lindo as the future mother-in-law of the dead black girl gives a memorable cameo, but some of the young supporting cast needed to learn how to act, even making Michael Craig's sergeant believable for once. He comments: "these spades are a load of trouble, I reckon we should send them back where they come from." Our superintendent firmly puts him down for that, yet the suburban bigotry is always just a little too transparent. Indeed the whole film seems uncertain how to proceed, culminating in the final silly melodrama which is saved only by Earl Cameron's dignified performance as the butt of the killer's deep prejudice.

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL (1959, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 3*)- The Major (William Kendall) and The Commander (Richard Murdoch) are two down-on-their-luck conmen who are just the "strong courageous gentlemen" that a young heiress wants to run her company. They are briefed to modernise her firm, but in fact she is using their incompetence to undermine the business. The plot meanders along, with nice parts for William Hartnell and Bruce Seton before the pair confess their past and the swindler is unmasked. Although the cast do their best, the script by Brock Williams needed a much tighter focus on the two main characters

THIS OTHER EDEN (1959, directed by Muriel Box, Ardmore Stuios Ireland, 4*)- Leslie Phillips is the most English of Englishmen, Crispin Brown, who's travelled to Ireland to bid on Kilgarrig House, and maybe for Moira wilful daughter of the local bigwig, though there's a rival in Conor. This starts as a gentle comedy of Irish eccentricity but the erection of a statue of a patriot raises those questions deep in the Irish psyche. An "atrocity" is this symbolic statue, even Crispin says it should be "blown up." When it is, he is chief suspect, but facing a lynch mob, his oratory wins them over, "the English come out of everything well." But then, to quote, "the Irish are the strangest people," and this film nearly wins you over

THE TREASURE OF SAN TERESA (1959 directed by Alvin Rakoff, National Studios Boreham Wood, 4*)- Compulsory American in this one is Eddie Constantine as Larry, a poor man's John Wayne, who'd hidden a box of jewels in the war in Czechoslovakia. With the help of the enigmatic Siebert (Marius Goring) and high class tart Hedi (another dud role for Dawn Addams) they retrieve it from a nunnery now apparently a police station. There's no undue excitement at all, except perhaps when Larry has to smash through a frontier post, I didn't realise it was so easy to escape from the Iron Curtain. To prolong the film, 'Inspector' Jaeger (Christopher Lee) now wants his hands on the treasure and Siebert turns out to be nothing but a suave double crosser, which we'd guessed anyway. A few more twists before the climax on the atmospheric Night Train to Munisch, "mein Gott in Himmel!" There's enough local colour to make the film watchable, and almost despite the main leads, Larry and Hedi make an interesting if ill matched pair. Now Larry can give her "a little lesson in anatomy," that's one way of putting it.

THR TROUBLE WITH EVE (1959 Mancunian Films but now made at Walton Studios, directed by Francis Searle, 4*)- The Willow Tree Tea Rooms face a council inspection, during which upright chairman Maitland (Robert Urquhart) sits on some cakes. A policeman sees him in his undies, or rather those of the owner (Hy Hazell). Romance blossoms, until he catches a "glimpse of a modern babylon" as her daughter Eve (Sally Smith) is caught up in a wild party. Gossip ensues, the cafe being less like "cosy teas" more "like striptease". The cunning of Eve ensures it's all patched up.

THE WHITE TRAP (1959, directed by Sidney Hayers, Beaconsfield Studions, 5*)- Inside for "something I didn't do," Paul Langley (Lee Patterson) is being transferred to Dartmoor, when he yet again makes a break for it. He's desperate to see his wife Joan, who's expecting their child. The contrast between her fear of dying, as her mother did, and his desperation is well done. A friend helps Paul elude the police, but with maternity being closely watched, how can he ever get to see his wife? Answer- pose as a casualty case, his face bandaged! But Sgt Morrison (Conrad Phillips) spots him and there's a chase around the corridors before Paul takes refuge in a doctor's party. But "desperate men make mistakes" and when Paul learns his baby is doing fine but his wife "has not much hope" he frantically dons a doctor's white coat and finds his wife- they smile, but it's only for a moment. "Just lousy" is the only way this can end now.

WITNESS IN THE DARK (1959, directed by Wolf Rilla, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- Young Don (Richard O'Sullivan) is being helped to learn to read Braille by kind Miss Jane Pringle (Patricia Dainton), who is helping him adjust to his despairing blindness. She's a kindly soul who helps everyone, but she is blind too. One of her friends is old Mrs Temple, whose one treasure is a 2,000 Indian brooch, which an unpleasant thief has set his eyes upon. He fails to discover its hiding place, but kills the old lady. The one witness is bound to be Jane, the classic story of the blind witness to a crime. It's frustrating for the police inspector (Conrad Phillips) who nevertheless persists in painstakingly reenacting the crime in a bid to turn up with a clue- or is he secretly attracted to her? This film also provides sharp observation of human ghoulishness in the slightly macabre. The climax is inevitably the return of the killer to steal the brooch that Jane has now inherited

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR WIFE (1959, directed by Anthony Simmons, Twickenham Studios, 2*)- A muddled comedy that at least finishes fairly well, about Gay (Peggy Cummins) who, though she has inherited a small fortune, has to take in paying guests with her husband Pelham (Donald Sinden). There's a dancing mistress (Georgina Cookson) and a lunatic foreigner (overplayed by Peter Reynolds), the former is just plain dull while the latter is merely irritating. What passes for more fun is model Juliet, to whom Pel is more than a little attracted. Now a divorce would enable Gay to get hold of more of her inheritance, so this is the theme of the second part of the film, which has the best moment when the reluctant Pel tries his false seduction of the dancing teacher, "you dear good man," as she starts to seduce him. No, he really can't go through with this, but Juliet makes a much more appealing subject, and look, he's "kissing her like a wild beast"

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My reviews of Films from 1960

THE BOY WHO STOLE A MILLION (1960, directed by Charles Crichton, Pinewood Studios, 5*)- Paco's dad's taxi conks out. 10,000 pesetas to repair, so Paco helps out by helping himself at the local bank. Now the film is a long chase not merely by police, but by everyone villain in Valencia. A blind man is first to catch him, but it's easy to elude him. The stolen money is lost in a dust cart, retrieved, nicked by another lad, before the baddies snatch Paco, a fine study in human greed. The chase is far too protracted and the ending was always going to be difficult, but several moments of unexpected charm are compensation

DENTIST IN THE CHAIR (1960, directed by Don Chaffey, Pinewood Studios, 3*)- Bob Monkhouse hasn't worn well, and dentistry is an edgy subject anyway. But offering expert tuition in the comedic art are Reginald Beckwith as The Lecturer, and Eric Barker as The Dean. For some reason "the laughing stock of the London underworld," Sam (Kenneth Connor), steals some dental equipment by accident, and this has to be "reburgled," not to mention other nefarious deeds which raise the occasional smile, and of course a sequence with laughing gas mustn't be missed out

DOUBLE BUNK (1960, directed by C Pennington-Richards, Twickenham Studios, 3*)- Sid James and Liz Fraser singing the title song set the mood for this nautical jaunt! On Christmas Island, Jack (Ian Carmichael) and his fiancee Peggy buy an old houseboat, which proves to be dreadfully leaky, like the script, when they begin their honeymoon. Another "catastophe" is Sid who persuades Jack to take his wife on a honeymoon cruise. This is a mildly amusing plot, pleasant, not uproariously funny, but then Jack would have needed an actress wife more suited to comedy, such as Liz Fraser who almost livens up the second half of the film when she accompanies Sid on the cruise. In the fog they end up in France, and some rather forced arguments and misadventures flounder the film, even Liz's stripstease not reviving it. The boat returns to England in a race with rival captain Dennis Price (sadly wasted), with Noel Purcell providing the best humour as a drunken sailor

THE GENTLE TRAP (1960, directed by Charles Saunders, Walton Studios, 2*)- Johnny and Sam collect a nice little haul of diamonds in a safe job but are then attacked by rival crooks. Their boss Ricky (Martin Benson) has had wind of the job via Johnny's girl Sylvia. Old Sam is killed but Johnny gets away. The search is on. He hides with two sisters Jean and Mary: "heads Ricky gets you, tails the cops." If the main lead had been a bit more charismatic, or even convincing, the film might have turned out less seedy: "I never dreamt I'd help a murderer." If only Inspector Stevenson (the wonderful Trevor Reid here oddly billed as Colin Reid) had been given a larger part! He enjoys an acerbic interview with Ricky as the two master actors exchange pleasantries. Then Ricky catches up with Johnny "in a funeral procession", the police not far behind, as a feeble finale is reached

THE HAND (1960, directed by Henry Cass, Walton Studios, 4*)- "Pretty fantastic, not very convincing," but though this threatens to become a grisly horror it never does. Charlie is found drunk in the street, 500 in his pocket, and an amputated hand. Inspector Munyard (Ronald Leigh-Hunt) questions Dr Simon Crawshaw who had performed surgery on Charlies with "gross incompetence." The doctor's cousin (Derek Bond) is behind a sinister plot, something deriving from his wartime cowardice, and he is only tracked down after several witnesses have been silenced. Script was co-written by Ray Cooney who plays the inspector's assistant Dave. The background music is typical early 60's beat, and good to see old favourite police car 892 FPC. I liked the final twist

HIS AND HERS (1960, directed by Brian Desmond-Hurst, AB Elstree, 4*)- Reggie Blake (Terry-Thomas) is a celebrated explorer and author, though his wife Fran knows he is really something of a fraud. When he returns home from his latest desert exploit, his pomposity drives her to write her own book, an expose of the real Reggie. As a result, they fall out, and divide their house in two. An added complication is the arrival of Simone who is deflected, if that is the word, by Reggie's publisher (Wilfrid Hyde-White), "fun is my middle name." Perhaps this is the best part of the film, WHW utterly out of character. By great good fortune, Reggie comes to see he has been "an absolute Charlie"

THE HOUSE IN MARSH ROAD (1960, directed by Montgomery Tully, Walton Studios, 3* aka Invisible Creature) - A penniless writer, David and his wife Jean (typecast Tony Wright and Patricia Dainton) inherit Fourwinds, a large house, surely the ideal retreat for an author who needs peace. But a poltergeist called Patrick is also in residence. David starts an affair with his typist Valerie (Sandra Dorne), "quite a dish." They fall in love and the removal of the wife will complete their happiness. But Patrick has other ideas! When David tries to push Jean, Patrick intervenes, when David tries poison, the bells start wildly ringing. She tells her solicitor who can't fathom her fears. "You make it all sound so silly." Which is perhaps exactly how it is! With Jean away, Valerie and David make love, but the last say is Patrick's, who causes the house to burn down, locking them in to burn to their deaths.

THE IMPERSONATOR (1960, directed by Alfred Shaughnessy, Pinewood, 3*)- Jane Griffiths always conveys an innocent vulnerability, as in this fine opening scene, of Anne walking home alone at night. Is it a stalker? When a local is killed, Jimmy from the US Air Force base is suspect, and anti-American feelings run high. Regrettably, it's spoiled by unconvincing acting from the dead woman's son Tommy, who tries to cry as he wonders where his mum is. Juxtapposition of the pantomime dame, who is the killer, on stage as Mother Goose and holding Tommy on stage, whilst police uncover the corpse is cleverly done, and John Arnatt's familiar sobering tones as the detective saves the film from complete ridicule. "Does Mother Goose really lay Golden Eggs?" asks Tommy in a line which sums this film up. Or perhaps it's "they're all gangsters, them Americans." The showdown exonerates the American as Tommy follows Mother Goose up to the gods, though, for me, he must win an AAA, Awful Acting Award

INN FOR TROUBLE (1960, directed by Pennington Richards, Walton Studios, 7*)- For once an improvement on a tv series, a rather touching adventure of The Larkins who are transported to Devon to run a country pub, The Earl Osbourne. It's a failing inn that is put "right back on the map," mainly through the "forceful personality" of Ada (Peggy Mount), conquering the machinations of the likes of Alan Wheatley. A jolly theme tune by Phil Green and plenty of drinks, plus some gems of cameos from the likes of Gerald Campion, Frank Williams, AE Matthews, Irene Handl, Willoughby Goddard, Graham Moffatt and Stanley Unwin, with only Leslie Phillips disappointingly wasted

JACKPOT (1960, directed by Montgomery Tully, Walton Studios, 4*) - Though William Hartnell is billed as the star, he is hardly in it, as the police officer investigating a safe robbery at the Jackpot Club. 6,000 has been stolen, but a vigilant policeman had spotted the thieves and been shot dead for his troubles. The club is run by crooked Sam (Eddie Byrne) who had used Karl to do his dirty work. Karl is now out of prison and wanting his pay, but Sam won't cough up and so Sam, with the help of Lenny, had helped himself from Sam's safe. Sam guesses what's happened and seeks his revenge, and after some rough stuff Karl is chased to the Arsenal football ground, a match v Burnley. This is a routine crime caper, the heist told in good detail, the most interesting character is reformed criminal Lenny (Michael Ripper unusually good), who is tempted by the money into helping Karl, and horrified when he's caught up in a murder hunt, "they hang you for killing coppers." Betty McDowall adds some class as Karl's estranged wife and Hartnell can always be relied upon to put in a few good touches

JAZZBOAT (1960, directed by Ken Hughes, MGM Studios, 6*) -Way out. Spider's Mob includes Bernie Winters as the appropriately named Jinx ("I'm not as dumb as I look") and David Lodge as a bearded leatherclad religious weirdo. While they are busy robbing 15,000 fags for peanuts, Bert (Anthony Newley) is dancing with "not a nice girl," jealous Spider's girl in fact. After the gang, adding his own nice dry humour is Lionel Jeffries as the rather jaded police inspector. Then there's the mainly square music supplied by Ted Heath and the like, but the film also includes lively dance numbers, one on location. The mix is rather uncomfortably stirred with occasional social comment on teenage hoodlums, but somehow the tongue-in-cheek fusion of genres works. Bert lays claim to being notorious thief The Cat and takes Spider's greenhorns to rob a jewellers, main interest being why he is doing so. "I'm top of the hit parade," he explains, or as Jinx remarks, "I suppose you know what you're doin'." Still, it doesn't matter why that much, for in a long showdown on the jazzboat, Spider tries to snatch the jewels from Bert, Anthony Newley dancing in drag with David Lodge the most incongruous part. "You're all man," Spider's doll tells Bert as the chase escalates and romance rises, though jollity is slightly marred by Spider's slashing and on to the surrealistic violent ending in a chamber of horrors- "how do you get out of here?" asks a tired old man, "is Chamberlain back from Europe?!"

NEVER LET GO (1960, directed by John Guillermin, Beaconsfield Studios, 8*)- A crooked garage owner, that's the unsual role for Peter Sellers, with Adam Faith as his stooge who steals cars to order. He regrettably is the one weak link, unconvincing, not the accomplished actor he turned into. Into this ruthless world steps mild family man Cummings (Richard Todd) for his brand new Ford Anglia is stolen. This is a breaking point for this salesman, his car essential for his job, now "we couldn't even afford to hire a bicycle." His work suffers in his single minded determination to find his car. He finds an eyewitness, newspaper vendor Alfie who is violently assaulted to keep his mouth shut. But Alfie has pointed Cummings to Tommy (Adam Faith) and his motorcycle gang and thence to Lionel Meadows (Sellers, unexpectedly effective in his evil looks). Cummings' doggedness riles Meadows whose relationship with tart Jackie deteriorates as Cummings in his plight grows closer to Anne his wife (Elizabeth Sellars). "I want my car... I've got to hang on to what's left." Here's the impressive theme as he simply has to "see it through." Jackie can provide the vital lead, bringing on a tense standoff as Meadows bursts into Cummings family home. An ultimatum from Anne as the sense of evil grows, a disintegrating Meadows swearing to kill his nemesis and set fire to his wretched car, him inside. The theme is summed up in the one line from Anne, "so what makes your car so important?" 'Tis the High noon of the final clash, only as this is a film noir, 'tis blackest night. After that bloody showdown will the tortured salesman find his wife at home?

NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER (1960, directed by Cyril Frankel, Hammer Films, 5*)- A new high school principal (Patrick Allen) is told by his nine year old daughter Jean that she has been made to undress by an old man (Felix Aylmer), a founding father of this prosperous Canadian town. How can it ever be proved he"attacked her innocence" when it's her word against his? There's nothing at all smutty in this story, but I did find it too episodic, issues needed to be thrashed out more fully, before we reach the harrowing trial where Jean is interrogated by the nasty defence council Slade (Niall MacGinnis). Partly because Jean's corroborative witness is persuaded not to testify, the case is not proven, and this leads to the last part which is far more scarey (though it's hard to see how Britain gave this an X rating) as Felix Aylmer imitates a zombie chasing after Jean and her friend through the woods

THE NIGHT WE GOT THE BIRD (1960, directed by Darcy Conyers, Shepperton Studios, 10*) - Though not perfect, this is Brian Rix at his best with support from old stooge Leo Franklyn, plus Brighton's finest Dora Bryan. Lovely cameos from Irene Handly as the ma-in-law, dear Reg Beckwith as Champagne Charlie and John le Mesurier and Kynaston Reeves in a travesty of courtroom justice. The story revolves round green Bertie Skidmore who's called in to authenticate Brighton knocker-boy Cecil's fake furniture. When Cecil is killed Bertie marries Cecil's wife only to find his wedding night interrupted by "dementia peacocks" in the form of a parrot, which is Cecil reincarnate. Knocked by many, I just love this absurd piece of farcical nonsense, British cinema at its innocent best

NO KIDDING (1960, directed by Gerald Thomas, Pinewood, 4*)- Master David (Leslie Phillips) and his wife open a holiday home for rich children. The child actors aren't all bad, a bunch of children with their own spoilt problems, mostly their absent parents. Julia Lockwood and Francesca Annis are two of the older kids, the sombre storyline perks up with the arrival of Joan Hickson as the inebriate cook, as well as, briefly, Esme Cannon as an "interfering busybody" of a nurse. It's a mildly amusing study of Liberty Hall, a clash between freedom and discipline for children with some heavy serious interludes. A prank too far with a car brings about the crisis, "I'll murder them!" David and family "muddle through," via some light hearted fun, though the finish sums up the film, which tries to be a comedy but is always oddly veering in the direction of some moral point. Weirdest of all is the introduction of Michael Sarne, while Irene Handl is cast in a part strangely out of character

OCTOBER MOTH (1960, directed by John Kruse, Beaconsfield Studios, 2*) - Finlay (Lee Patterson) rescues a woman from a car smash and carries her to his farmhouse bed. He decides she is his dead mother, but he is an utterly demented soul, seriously ill, cared for by his sister Molly (Lana Morris), who is a sympathetc character, though her actions are never entirely plausible. She meets Tom who tries to get the woman to hospital, Molly desperate to get Finlay to admit the truth about his tortured past with his father. The inevitable crisis, as Tom and he come face to face, the unremitting blackness bringing on the inevitable ending, too obvious, implausible, corny too

OFFBEAT (1960, directed by Cliff Owen, Shepperton Studios, 6*)- "I'll have the key to your safe please," a daring one man bank robbery, committed by Layton (William Sylvester), actually a policeman undercover. His task- infiltrate a highly organised gang, "I can't afford to make mistakes." But maybe he does just that when, after getting into a "firm," he falls for Ruth (Mai Zetterling). He admires the organisation so much, the interest is whether he will change sides, as the tunnel into Imperial Jewellers. Of course, he's found out, will Ruth expose him after the successful job, clean getaway with three quarters of a million?

PICCADILLY THIRD STOP (1960, directed by Wolf Rilla, Pinewood Studios, 2*)- "Society jackass" Dominic (Terence Morgan) hasn't got "good form even in crime," an unlikeable minor rogue, interestingly foreshadowing the coming amoral Sixties. Having made love to an East Indies music student, he seizes his chance of joining the big league by planning to rob her rich dad's safe of 100,000. With her blinkered assistance, and help from Chrissy who's also in love with him, her down-on-his-uppers husband ropes in The Colonel (William Hartnell), the safecracker who brightens the film with his confidence in his own ability. But he has little to be confident about, the venture, like this film, is doomed. We watch them tunnelling in (why not simply use the front door?), the safe blown, the loot, then betrayal

THE PROFESSIONALS (1960, directed by Don Sharp, Pinewood Studios, 5*) - 'Inspector Cooper' (Stratford Johns) does "a really beautfiul job" at a bank, a preliminary to to bigger crime, for which he needs expert Phil Bowman (William Lucas), who's just been released from prison. "I thought I'd settle down," Phil begins. "You can settle down when you're dead!" Phil's fiance Ruth (Colette Wilde) wants him to go straight, but his well worn excuse is "it's my last job." Meticuluous planning, so what can go wrong? Entry into the City Bank is the traditional route via the sewers, explosives bust the safe. Anyone could do this, you feel. Except the emptying of the safe has to be done to split second precision, the alarm ringing. Whilst police flash in through the front door, the thieves exit the way they entered. The perfect crime. A routine caper, but it's police routine that puts the Yard on to Bowman, just after his wedding too. Panic: "that's the way it goes," says Phil to Ruth. Nice final scene as she removes his figurine from their wedding cake

THREE ON A SPREE (1960 directed by Sidney J Furie, Walton Studios, 3^)- A forgotten version of Brewster's Millions which provides some delightful fun for Jack Watling, but the film, after a lively start, sadly loses its drive in a poor second half. Mike Brewster has been saving for five years to get married to Susan (Carole Lesley). At last he's got enough, but then he's told he will inherit eight million, if he can fulfil his uncle's bequest- spend one million in 60 days- this so he can "learn to hate spending money." With his two bemused ex-work mates (Colin Gordon and John Slater) he starts his spree- "which bank did you rob this morning?" They set up Brewster and Co with schemes to lose money on roulette, horses, shows, anything- but somehow they all win Brewster more money- "everything I touch turns to gold!"

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THE BREAKING POINT (1961, directed by Lance Comfort, Walton Studios, 3*)- As Eric Winlater (Peter Reynolds) owes cash, it's rather handy he works in his uncle's engraving firm, which has just won the new currency contract for the Middle Eastern state of Lalvadore. Ripe for blackmail by smooth embassy worker Peter, his wife is two timing him with journalist Robert (Dermot Walsh). The characters are built up well enough, but too slowly for a one hour film. Eric passes details of the contract to Peter who then offers Eric even more for hijacking the van carrying all the cash to Gatwick. Snatching the fortune almost works, only Robert has tailed Eric. "You incompetent fool!" But the fool shows a final spark of decency bringing on an exciting fight outside a plane in flight

DENTIST ON THE JOB (1961, directed by CM Pennington Richards, Shepperton Studios, 1*)- Dreem versus Glow, a battle of the toothpastes. JJ (Eric Barker) of Proudfoot Industries is running Dreem's failing advertising campaign, which he revives by using two second rate dentists, from the film Dentist in the Chair, Cookson and Dexter, with the help of their dodgy pal Sam. They invent an improved product, en route with the odd good gag, and some cringing ones. Their biggest coup is getting their ad broadcast from outer space. There is also an interesting scene from the quiz Take Your Pick. But the film lacks any sparkle or even direction, and fades miserably

DURING ONE NIGHT (1961 directed by Sidney Furie, Walton Studios, 0*)- a modest film that thinks too much of itself, with sickly music that drowns the angst of the actors as well as me. In the war pilot Mike is injured so that, as he puts it, "I'm not a man any more." This is double speak for if I can say it sex, but it turns out he never has been 'a man' anyway. His co-pilot Don hasn't either and proves the point in a salacious scene with a prostitute, where he can't do it. A barmaid (Susan Hampshire) consoles him with "sometimes when you talk about something you feel better," but all this talking in veiled tones about "trying the product" is very wearing and her own motive was perhaps the only interest I could find. "I don't want to die without ever being a man," he tells her, so in a deserted barn at the "don't tell me, show me" point, very unromantically she strips off. However "nothing happened," as she tells her mum later, he really can't. If you can follow this tragedy to the end you get to a discussion about love and the surprisingly moral conclusion for the Sixties that love is the answer, which of course he finds and becomes etc etc, in this film truly of its age and awful

FIVE GOLDEN HOURS (1961, directed by Mario Zampi, MGM Borehamwood Studios, 3*)- I love all Zampi's films- except this one. He excelled in studies of British eccentrics, but here he turns his attention on one Italian funeral director Aldo (Ernie Kovacs) who befriends lonely widows, until he meets his love in the attractive shape of the Baroness Sandra. Her late husband had devised his own investment swindle, which Aldo recreates to woo his widow. He uses the fortunes of his other widows to pay off Sandra's debts, only to find out she is nothing but a swindler herself. He feigns amnesia as the story drags on in a mental home, until one of his widows expires, almost leaving him a fortune. It is then that Sandra reappears...

GIRL ON APPROVAL (1961, directed by Charles Frend, 5*)- Fourteen year old Sheila is a teenager nobody wants for she is aggressive, wilful, "what's going to happen to her?" Fostered with an ordinary suburban family, her social worker "doesn't expect miracles." The film is constantly on edge as she threatens to ruin the happy family and their marriage. After yet another bitchy row, Sheila runs off into the night, easy prey. However she is found by her foster father in the nick of time. The final scene is quite touching, though maybe does not answer the deeper questions

HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Beaconsfield Studios, 5*)- For sale, the idyllic Orchard Cottage for only 2,500, "it's fantastic." A "dream house," but there must be some catch. There is. Mark, a previous inventor owner had been electrocuted here. The Trevors had purchased the property, and were horrified to see Mark's ghost. They call in a psychic (Colin Gordon) who introduces them to a medium who reenacts the tragedy. Mark's wife had attempted to electrocute her husband in his bath. When this fails, his revenge makes him wire up the entire sitting room to kill her and her lover, "he's insane, he must be"

INFORMATION RECEIVED (1961, directed by Robert Lynn, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Stevens is shipped to England for some big job, but police pick him up. Rick (William Sylvester) takes Stevens' place, and is sprung by Vic from jail in a dustbin. Just avoiding a roadblock he reaches a hideout cottage. Here the action slows as Rick gets pally with Sabina, Vic's wife. Soon they are kissing, "gosh, you're beautiful." Vic is to drive Rick to Paterson's garage to meet the boss Harry Drake (Edward Underdown), but Sabina warns him it's a trap, and Rick drives there on his own. She then shoots Vic and claims Rick did it. She seems to be planning a world cruise with Drake when this job's done. An enigmatic character she is, but sadly her part is not well acted and the film falls as a result. Rick's part of the robbery is to open a factory safe and here the action is more straightforward, as a valuable blueprint is nicked. But it is Drake who is nicked, and Sabina is also caught, "a notorious character"

JOHNNY NOBODY (1961, directed by Nigel Patrick, Ardmore Studios, 5*)- "God will punish him," Father Carey prophesies of an American blasphemer (William Bendix). When a stranger shoots him for openly defying God, popular sentiment is with him when he goes on trial. The question posed to the priest is, was this Johnny Nobody or God responsible? Father Carey's religious questioning turns into a more obvious murder story, when the killer's wife comes on the scene. It's almost The 39 Steps, as the priest is arrested, handcuffed and has to avoid the law in order to see justice done. This change of pace is uncomfortable, with too long a delay before the final dramatic courtroom denouement

JUNGLE STREET (1961, directed by Charles Saunders, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- At the Adam and Eve Club, I'm Only a Girl is the lively song that starts off this film, echoes of MM. "The lovely Sue" (Jill Ireland) has many admirers, including Terry (David McCallum) a yob who attacks a 65 year old man for a few quid. "This is a hanging case." Johnnie (Kenneth Cope) had been his partner in crime until the latter got caught. Now he's out of the Scrubbs and they plan to rob the club, "a pushover." But it's not, since Terry doublecrosses his pal, all on account of Sue. The alarm goes off. It's an exciting showdown- "he's got a gun!"

THE MAN IN THE BACK SEAT (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Beaconsfield Studios, 3*) - NTE718 is the car. Two tearaways have nicked it, the evil Tony, and his underling Frank. Their victim is Joe, greyhound bookie. They snatch his money bag, but there's one problem, they have to snatch him also, it's chained to his wrist. From hereon this is one long frustration for the crooks, and the audience. No key to unlock it, car parked in someone's way, Frank's wife Jean suspicious, puncture, Joe beaten up, Joe dumped but spotted by a policeman, quack doctor diagnoses a punctured lung, "he's dead." Crooks scarper scared, "you've got yourself into a fine mess." Well does this prove crime does not pay, or what?

MARY HAD A LITTLE (1961, directed by Edward Buzzell, Walton Studios, 4*)- Failing theatrical agent Scott Raymond (Jack Watling) bets with Dr Mal Nettel (John Bentley) that he can't make a woman produce The Perfect Baby via hypnotism. Really. Scott cheats by persuading a can-can dancer from Cannes, Mary, to be the subject of this improbabe medical experiment. The treatment of this deception is too plodding as Mary is set up in Shakespeare's cottage, with, er, "a better plot than you ever had." Obviously, with scenes such as Scott hypnotised into believing "I'm going to have a beautiful baby." Weirder is Mary's dream when the bard comes to life. But the film finishes with a flourish with Scott hiding Mary in his bedroom to avoid the eyes of his long time fiancee Laurel (Hazel Court). A shotgun wedding nearly follows, with a finale in the police station with Terry Scott sorting out the wild muddle

MURDER ON THE CAMPUS (1961, Marylebone Studios director Michael Winner 5*)- "Why should he fall out of his own window?" asks reporter Mark Kingston of Tony, his brother, a scholarship student at Leicester College Cambridge. Mark plays "boy detective" while Insp Wills (Donald Gray) holds a nonchalant watching brief as masonry falls on one witness and another is strangled, "he may be on to something." The theft during the war of antiques is behind this run-of-the-mill adventure but Terence Longden as Mark gives it all some integrity, even coping with a couple of dud actresses. There's an odd apppearance "indubitably" unrelated to anything in particular by Robertson Hare, and the location shooting in the university city gives it some credibility

THE NIGHT WE DROPPED A CLANGER (1961, directed by Darcy Conyers, National Studios Borehamwood, 3*)- A top RAF wallah, the insufferably superior Wing Commander Blenkinsop (Brian Rix), must go on a secret mission to France to learn the secrets of the flying bomb. Like Monty, he needs a double to throw the Nazis off the scent in North Africa, but the only lookalike proves to be a cackhanded lavatory attendant. The contrasts between the two characters is unsubtle, though the attempts to turn one into t'other produces some funny moments, as when the private returns to inspect his old late superiors. With bungling Sir Bertram Bukpasser (Cecil Parker) nominally in charge, it's no wonder there's a mix up and it's the real Blenkinsop who is despatched to Africa. Comedy with a war theme is never easy to bring off, and even the pleasing cameos from Leslie Phillips, William Hartnell, Hattie Jacques and Irene Handl fail to lift this one. That said, the improbable triumph of the idiot against the Nazis is assured, even if the the film then takes a bit too long to wind down

THE PAINTED SMILE- (1961, Shepperton Studios, directed by Lance Comfort, 4*) - Mark (Peter Reynolds) and Jo (Liz Fraser) run a blackmail racket: she picks up a likely man, this time student Tom at a club. But Mark has been knifed, Tom won't be seduced, instead he helps her dispose of the corpse in his car. Not a good idea as he's half drunk. Tom's two pals and his fiancee Mary help trace the killer, the man with the inevitable limp, the sinister Limey, not too tough a task as he's after Tom too. At one point this film is more akin to Room at the Top, but mostly it's a 50s crime chase with 60s music. "We're going to look after you," Limey promises Tom and Jo once he's got them, "you've just got to disappear." Motivation not clear, but there's always the catchy theme song to enjoy, sung by Craig Douglas

PAYROLL (1961, directed by Sidney Hayers, Beaconsfield Studios, 8*)- Villains are planning to snatch the large payroll from an armoured van. As we meet the van drivers and their families, what follows is moving, as the crooks' Jag forces the van to swerve and crash. It is rammed mercilessly until it yields its contents. Several deaths follow in this tensest of holdups. The aftermath is impressive also, as the villains fall out over the distribution of their dead colleague's share. We see the devastation of ruined lives, except for the insider's wife, who provides "the sex angle," making off with the boss of the gang. Then there's the ice cool widow of the dead driver, who causes the insider to crack up, before she hunts down her late husband's killer. Only thing wrong with the film is the extraordinary lack of any local accent- it is set in Newcastle

PIT OF DARKNESS (1961, directed by Lance Comfort, Twickenham Studios, 7*)- why is Logan (William Franklyn) lying unconscious on a Wapping bomb site? His wife Julie tells him he has been missing for three weeks. He can't remember anything. He is phoned by Mavis, but who is she? It seems she lives at Nightingale Cottage, so he goes there, and is nearly killed by a bomb. Minor flashes of memory take him to the Blue Baboon Club and a dance with the elusive Mavis. She is soon dead. His business manufactures safes and the mystery clears when he is required to open another safe in this excellent thriller. Footnote: a young Dave Clark can be seen on drums in the nightclub sequence

POSTMAN'S KNOCK (1961, directed by Robert Lynn, MGM Borehamwood Studios, 6*)- Tho' Spike Milligan is the star, this is really only a run-of-the-mill British comedy, and no worse for that. Spike gets plenty of opportunity for visual comedy, such as grappling with an automatic door, but the script gives him little scope with verbal gags. However, others are given brief chances, such as Warren Mitchell as Rupert, leader of the crooks, and his assistant cockney Arthur Mullard, who has one fun moment with Milligan where he pretends he's French! Archie Duncan as the police inspector does his usual marvellous portrait of bumbling incompetence: "we're not as stupid as we look"

A PRIZE OF ARMS (1961, directed by Cliff Owen, 5*)- "You've got to take some risks," in this tense heist undertaken by three villains. An ambitious plan has been hatched to raid an army base pay office, "pretty risky." The robbery is shown in meticulous detail, led by Stanley Baker. A fire alarm evacuates the building with the cash in, enabling the crooks to bust into the strong room amid the confusion, then blow the safe. The cash is eventually smuggled out of the army camp in the tyres of an army lorry, "we've done it!" They make for their hideout but an unforeseen event proves their downfall. Not a woman in sight in this story, the crooks' plan seems exceptionally complex, you almost hope they'll be rewarded

SHE KNOWS Y'KNOW (1961, directed by Montgomery Tully, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Cyril Smith plays his traditional henpecked husband, a good foil for the great Hylda Baker. The northern setting and storyline seem pure 1950s, though the music like the chacha is more withit. For a while the comedy is drowned by the pop singer made good motif, as Terry is offered his big chance in London- indeed he has talent and does well, though in real life this singer (Tim Connor) didn't make it to the top. Also 1960s is the teenage pregnancy, the best part the sparring between rival grandmothers, Hylda v Joan Sanderson. A victim has to be found to admit paternity, but you feel Hylda isn't quite at home without a live audience, and the fun never finds its potential, though it's pleasing enough

STRONGROOM (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- Easter Saturday, three crooks wait for the bank to close for the holiday at lunchtime. Mr Spencer the prim manager (Colin Gordon) and his secretary (Miss Taylor) are last to go, and they don't for in walks a postman and the keys are sntached to open the vault. Tensely told, all goes really well until the arrival of two cleaners, the thieves leave their two prisoners locked in the strongroom and escape. They develop a conscience of sorts and their leader Griff (Derren Nesbitt) orders his mate to tip off the police. But he is accidentally killed as the film loses some momentum, and as Griff and Len decide to break back into the bank to rescue their hostages. Good character studies, but a very frustrating storyline

TWO LETTER-ALIBI (1961 directed by Robert Lynn Shepperton Studios, 4*) - Charles Hilary (Peter Williams) is separated from Louise his wife. Now she hates him and won't give him a divorce so he can marry TV personality Kathy. When Louise is shot dead, he is the obvious suspect for the acerbic Supt Bates (Stratford Johns). When Charles is picked out at an identity parade he is arrested. The film moves to his trial, shown in some detail. The verdict... Guilty. In Brighton, Kathy discovers a hotel where Louise had stayed with a male lover. Unwisely Charles makes a break for it but is recaptured. Kathy then proves Charles' questionable alibi so he is happily pardoned and the killer caught. Perhaps the film tries too hard to cover too many bases

TWO LIVING ONE DEAD (1961 directed by Anthony Asquith, 4*)- A study of the aftermath of a Swedish post office robbery in which an employee is killed. Fellow worker Anderson (Bill Travers) emerges as a hero, whilst Berger (a typical Patrick McGoohan role) is a "cowerd." You might think it would be difficult to sustain this for over 100 minutes, but you'd be wrong. It's impossible. But nonetheless interesting, when Berger's befriended by one of the thieves- "it needn't have happened at all," Berger is told. Is this a comment on Two Living, which concludes with the hero exposed in a second 'robbery' staged by the coward himself?

THE UNSTOPPABLE MAN (1961, directed by Terry Bishop, 6*)- Kidnap of young Jimmy at Hyde Park Corner, a routine story but Jimmy's dad is self made business millionaire James Kennedy (Cameron Mitchell) and he's not just a doting dad, he also has his own unorthodox methods, "I have my own way of handling things." Thus he don't see eye to eye with Inspector Hazelrigg (Marius Goring) and their uneasy relationship is at the heart of this drama. "I'm not working with the police," he announces, and Hazelrigg, more experienced in such matters than Kennedy can credit, plays along. The last half is the tense drop of ransom money, twice what the crooks demand, the tracking of the kidnappers to their hideout in Hampstead, and the final recovery of Jimmy with the aid of a lethal fire extinguisher

WATCH IT, SAILOR! (1961, directed by Wolf Rilla, Bray Studios, 2*)- The great Bobby Howes gets us off to a good start with his drunk cameo, and Frankie Howerd as the organist and Arthur Howard as the vicar add pleasing touches in the opening. As a belated follow up to the film Sailor Beware, this has a mostly different cast, Irene Handl making a fine replacement for the irreplaceable Esma Cannon, though Marjorie Rhodes in the Peggy Mount role of Emma tries to dominate, but only makes herself less comic, a shade too unpleasant. Her husband Henry again turns at the end of the too predictable plot, a tedious story is about Shirley and Albert's postponed wedding. Even the arrival of Dennis Price half way through fails to liven things up, too much bickering until at last the couple "fly in the face of Emma," and thus they live happily ever after, though the memory of this film doesn't

WHAT A CARVE UP! (1961, directed by Pat Jackson, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- To Blackshaw Towers, remote on the moors, goes Ernie (Kenneth Connor), accompanied by his mate Honest Sid (Sid James) at the behest of late Uncle Gabriel. "There's something creepy about this place," as other relatives are bumped off, in the traditional mix of secret passages, screams and creaking doors. There are even baying hounds a la Baskerville. Yet it's all performed with zest by the principals, ably assisted by the deadpan Dennis Price and the "zombie" Donald Pleasence. All overacting, "nutty as a fruitcake," especially the understated mad butler (Michael Gough) and dear Aunt Emily (Esma Cannon)

WHAT A WHOPPER (1961, directed by Gilbert Gunn, Pinewood, 5*) - Here's the story of a down-at-heel writer (Adam Faith) who attempts to convince the world that the Loch Ness Monster is real. Adam Faith wasn't a proficient actor as yet, Terence Longdon (plus thick-set glasses) wasn't a comedy natural and Carole Lesley was just a pretty face. But there's plenty of professional comedy to admire: Spike Milligan fishing and nearly catching a Monster, Freddie Frinton at his inebriate best and Sid James (who else?!) as a slightly crooked landlord. And then there are the usual caricatures- the incompetent police (Terry Scott) and the belligerent Scots (Archie Duncan). Adam sings the title song and one other love song to prove he really was quite talented

A WEEKEND WITH LULU (1961, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Lulu is "a mobile love nest," ie an old caravan for Tom (Leslie Phillips) to borrow for use with Deirdre (Shirley Eaton). The caravan is "a bit intimate," ie cramped. The only snag is that her mother (Irene Handl) comes too for "quite an adventure." Stranded in France, the plot becomes a mildly enjoyable romp taking them slowly home, "who's that girl?" Pursued by rozzers, one haven is a chateau owned by an amorous count. Cash is raised by various dubious means, and spent as quickly, including a betting swindle on the Tour de France

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My reviews of Films from 1962
(In alphabetical order)

BAND OF THIEVES (1962, directed by Peter Bezencenet, Pinewood, 6*) - What starts as a cheapskate imitation of Two Way Stretch continues as a more conventional rags to riches showbiz musical with plenty of jolly numbers from Aker Bilk. Finally it decides to be a crime caper, but although a muddle, I found it a pleasant muddle with its generous points, such as the opportunity for the also-rans to shine for a second, as for example when the cleaning lady dusts as Aker plays. Michael Peake has a ferocious part as chief warder and Geoffrey Sumner reprises his Army Game role as the trad loving prison governor

THE BREAK (1962, directed by Lance Comfort, Shepperton Studios, 1*)- Prisoner Jacko (William Lucas) has escaped and is holed out in a remote Dartmoor farmhouse hotel. "Expect trouble," but it's very tedious with a dull collection of guests: writer Greg Parker (Tony Britton), private detective Pearson, and Sue, Jacko's brother, who falls for Greg. One dead body later, "the Lord will punish you," says a religious simpleton, but in trying to wreak vengeance on Jacko, only gets killed himself. Greg is made of sterner stuff and after a slightly exciting chase, persuades Sue not to flee abroad with her brother, who almost gets away, but not quite. Revenge all but ends this sick tale which never quite manages to get you hooked

DANGER BY MY SIDE (1962, directed by Charles Saunders, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- There's a fine opening sequence showing a bank robbery, successful except Bernie Hewson trips and is caught. After a spell behind bars, he naturally wants his boss, Nicky Venning (Alan Tilvern at his nasty best) to come good, and Hewson is given a job at Venning's Acme Warehouse. The police are investigating this front, and undercover cop Terry is killed in a hit and run accident. His boss Det Insp Willoughby tries to give Terry's sister Lynne (Maureen Connell) a little help in exposing the gang as she gets a job at Nicky's nightclub, where the catchy title song is sung. Yes, this is very typical early Sixties fare, slightly seedy, redeemed by the electric guitars in the background music. Lynne is befriended by the kind club manager Sam (Bill Nagy) who amazingly knows nothing of Venning's shady activities. But Hewson rumbles Lynne, and she is tied up on Venning's boat Harlequin, where the police hunt ends rather tamely. The best bit for me was the little scene as the crooks are rounded up, and the honest gatekeeper at Acme, played by Wally Patch, is escorted into a police car protesting his innocence

DILEMMA (1962, directed by Peter Maxwell, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- One of those frustrating films, well done, about Harry, a teacher embarking on his summer hols. He returns home from school to find Jean his wife has gone, and, worse, a corpse in the bathroom. He has to cover up for her, and does so by digging a hole for it under the floor in the lounge of his modern suburban semi. All along the line he is thwarted by interruptions, particularly his nosey neighbour, but also his mother, two nuns, a blind piano tuner, a piano pupil, and finally the police. They call about a seemingly unrelated matter, "a nasty piece of work," actually the corpse, who has been blackmailing people. Then Jean comes home, though we know she had been intending to flee the country, alone. She claims not to know anything about the dead man, but what is the truth?

THE IRON MAIDEN (1962, directed by Gerald Thomas, Pinewood, 2*)- Jack Hopkins is the brilliant designer of a new aircraft, but his heart is with his hobby, traction engines. Michael Craig is no funny man, here as wooden as ever, and hardly helped by the acting of his romantic partner. Cecil Parker as his boss gives us the odd moment of Parker magic, but Noel Purcell, when he is on camera, is the main provider of what laughs there are, aided by Brian Oulton, his tentative man of the cloth assistant. Alan Hale as the big cuddly American does his part well enough. The fun, if that's the word, culminates in Jack absurdly slapping his girl's backside. However this is mostly pleasantly genteel and if you like steam engines it might be appealing, but not in the scintillating manner of Genevieve or The Titfield Thunderbolt

JIGSAW (1962, directed by Val Guest, AB Elstree Studios, 8*) - The opening scene is pure 'kitchen sink' but thankfully this quickly transforms into an impressive thriller effectively using Brighton as its backdrop. An absorbing account of how the police, led by a fairly rotund Jack Warner, track down a murderer. Two mysteries in the jigsaw are: 1. Why has someone stolen the only copy of the lease of the cliff house where the killing took place, and 2. Why had the killer stopped half way through dismembering the corpse? The biggest puzzle however is tracing who the dead girl was- clues include an A55 saloon and the trunk in which the corpse was found. It's a tough case to crack with a lot of dead ends- "I am not Agatha Christie, so we'll have to start again at the beginning."

LADIES WHO DO (1962, direced by CM Pennington-Richards, Twickenham Studios,4*)- The Colonel (Robert Morley) has a gem of a cleaning lady in Mrs Cragg (Peggy Mount), who also happens to work at the offices of Jim Ryder (Harry H Corbett), a flash property developer. Inadvertently she brings The Colonel a scrap of paper relating to a takeover and he buys shares. "It isn't right." But maybe it is since the ruthless Jim's scheme is to demolish the houses where Mrs Cragg and her fellow chars live.Together they rummage in the waste paper baskets of their employers, passing a heap of rubbish on to The Colonel. He moves into posh premises as their business booms. Jim's demolition plans encounter setbacks when "a few old bags" hold up the destruction of the houses, overlong but a fun climax

LUNCH HOUR (1962, directed by James Hill, Marylebone Studios, 1*)- A secret tryst in a seedy hotel, the first half of the film shows how this couple have ended up here, the scene is nicely built up, a portrait of two very normal ordinary people, he 13 years older than her. Having got them ensconced in their love nest, the film then fails to build on what it has begun as she changes character. By a devious deception, to protect their innocence he has booked this room, but frustration is all they, and we, receive. Peculiarly, she brings his lies to life, despite his protests, turning the film into the kitchen sink. Sorry, all credibility has gone just as they have lost all hope of fulfilment. "It's all over"- thank goodness

NIGHT OF THE PROWLER (1962, directed by Francis Searle, Shepperton Studios, 2*) - Robert (Patrick Holt) is estranged from his lovely wife Marie (Colette Wilde). His partner in their racing car engineering firm is murdered, and Robert is warned that he is next on the list. It must be the work of Don Lacey, whom the three of them had testified against, getting him sent to jail. Inspector Cameron (good old John Horsley) is on to the criminal almost as soon as I was. The title might imply a tense drama, which this certainly is not

OUT OF THE FOG (1962, directed by Montgomery Tully, Twickenham Studios, 5*)- George Mallon is a "prison regular," kindly Tom Daniels (James Hayter) offers him a room in his hostel for ex-cons. However, this doesn't develop on predictable lines, offering a sad picture of his rejection by a girlfriend when she learns of his past, and even sadder, his own mother spurning him. Though he seems on the path of reform, when a blonde is murdered, he is the top suspect. John Arnatt as Supt Chadwick investigates with his usual dry humour and gets a blonde policewoman to go undercover and befriend George. She ends up alone with him in a foggy isolated place...

THE PRIMITIVES (1962, directed by Alfred Travers, Pinewood Studios 4*)- Jan Holden got her first starring film role with a fine part, an attractive intelligent boss of a gang of jewel robbers, travelling undercover as variety artists, Cheta and her three male partners. Having successfully eluded Inspector Wills and his Canadian assistant Bob Henry, they are planning that one last job. It's the big one, Hatton Garden, and it's a piece of cake. Only one slight hitch, the flat the gang borrow to gain entry into the diamond merchants isn't empty as planned, journalist John Turner needs to be distracted by Cheta. But the one hitch opens up further complications, in that she falls for him. That brings on jealousy from one gang member who places a bomb in John's case as he flies off from London Airport. The police have almost tracked down the gang, though questioning John is unnecessarily long and the drama loses its edge. However the last scene is effective, as Cheta has to break airport security in order to tackle John on the tarmac to prevent a tragedy

SERENA (1962, directed by Peter Maxwell, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Det Insp Gregory (Patrick Holt) investigates the murder of an artist's estranged wife. Rogers had separated from her three years ago, his alibi is his model Serena Vaughan, whom we only see in her portrait. She has disappeared. But we do meet Ann, his wife (Honor Blackman) who isn't dead after all! "It's a complicated story," the search for Serena the key to solving the case. A neat little drama with a good final twist

SEVEN KEYS (1962, directed by Pat Jackson, Beaconsfield Studios, 2*)- Group Captain James Jefferson is killed in a car crash, coincidentally his father, in jail having robbed 20,000, also dies. Thus prisoner 7866 Fred Russell (Alan Dobie) inherits the dead man's seven keys, obviously a clue to the missing money, and the film moves pedestrianly through the motions as Russell works out what the keys are for, shadowed by rival crooks. Jefferson's loyal secretary Miss Steele (Jeannie Carson) helps him trace one key to a safe deposit, another to his house where Fabia Drake and Robertson Hare give us a moment's comedy relief as the frightened new occupants. ORW120 was Jefferson's car, and new owner Colin Gordon adds another moment of fun, but only a moment in this tedious and very complictaed search. The key to James' flat leads to fiancee Natalie, a model, who had been blackmailing Jefferson after a drink driving road accident. Russell makes love to her before blackmailing her in return, he's no moral hero though somehow, under the gentle influence of Miss Steele he emerges as one

TOUCH OF DEATH (1962, directed by Lance Comfort, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- William Lucas is typecast as Pete, the leader of a gang who rob a garage safe. In a dramatic opening, one of the thieves is killed while Pete and Len run off with a cool 17,000. What they don't know is that the notes have been covered with cyanide, stored in the safe. Len starts going downhill, poisoned, as the pair hide on a boat. This is their escape route, taking as hostages the tenant and a little girl. You can guess how it will end as Inspector Maxwell (Ray Barrett) corners them, but there is a twist in the tense chase, even though A Touch of Death lacks A Touch of much Excitement

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BLIND CORNER (1963, directed by Lance Comfort, Pinewood Studios, 5*)- Paul Gregory (William Sylvester) is a pianist composer who is rich, but blind. Anne his wife (Barbara Shelley) is having an affair with penniless artist Ricky, and to be together more, he is commissioned to paint her portrait. Paul senses the worst and gets his secretary Joan to watch them, "I want to see her ugly," is his plaintive cry when he learns the worst. Anne can't face poverty without Paul, so Ricky iis eventually persuaded to push Paul from their high balcony flat. But Paul has wind of the whole scheme, resulting in a novel confrontation between murderer and victim. When Anne returns home to 'discover' the corpse, she gets a nasty shock. In the fashion of the era, there's the title song sung by Ronnie Carroll, "it'll top the charts, dad, it's bound to," very optimistic for such a square ballad. Since Carroll is seen recording the disc, it's odd that he mimes to it, rather poorly! However, his other song is a little more groovy with swinging dancers

BOMB IN THE HIGH STREET (1963 directed by Terry Bishop and Peter Bezencenet, Pinewood Studios, 4*)- "A dirty great Jerry bomb" must be defused. Enter Captain Manning (Ronald Howard), who however brings a neat surprise, for this is his elaborate ruse to rob the County and Suburban Bank. A runaway couple, Mike and Jackie, have been overlooked in the evacuation of the area, and they intermittently puzzle over the absence of human life in the local hotel, in between kissing and being tempted to go further. When they cotton on to the robbery, Manning offers them cash, but these "blasted kids" are too honest. The crooks with their loot make a run for it, Mike gives chase on a motor bike, the police following

CALCULATED RISK (1963, directed by Norman Harrison, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- You've seen this opening lots of times, old lag emerging from prison gates. Only in this one, the ground is snowy. Kip is driven straight to his wife's grave. He has "one last job lined up," he informs his brother-in-law Steve (William Lucas), a big bank raid. The usual scenes, gang selected, "here's to crime," then casing the joint, "nothing can go wrong." But as ever it does. It's always Kip the weak link, with his none too good "ticker." There's the familar digging into the bank vault, the novelty here is they stumble on an unexploded bomb. Dare they risk ignoring it? They do, the break in, sacks of money removed, but then panic, the bomb is ticking! One of the gang trapped, Kip has a heart attack, another of the crooks actually calls the cops, then BOOM

ECHO OF DIANA (1963, directed by Ernest Morris, MGM Studios Boreham Wood, 4*)- "Who's Diana?" asks the wife of Phillip Scott, killed in an air crash. Joan Scott (Betty McDowall) and her friend Pam, with the help of Bill Vernon (Vincent Ball) seek the answer. But Joan is persuaded her husband is not dead and she is taken to join him behind the Iron Curtain. The cloak and dagger bit is quite absorbing as she covers her tracks. "She's in very grave danger," according to MI5. "Is this some sort of game?" But the tension collapses in a very tame finale

GIRL IN THE HEADLINES (1963, directed by Michael Truman, Twickenham Studios, 7*)- Murder of Ursula, a fashion model. The story starts as Chief Inspector Birkett (Ian Hendry) begins his investigation. Ronald Fraser as his assistant provides a stronger than usual second lead. Suspects emerge, including David Dane a snooty tv personality, Hammond Barker and Jordan her boyfriend and his brother, plus the director of a swish club (Kieron Moore). An intriguing revelation of blackmail, drugs, abortion, though that might suggest this is a sleazy film, which it's not. Then a second murder and a chase along the Thames, followed by an arrest in a spooky graveyard before the killer is exposed. Homely touches with the policeman make for a well rounded thriller

THE HI-JACKERS (1963, directed by Jim O'Connolly, Twickenham Studios, 5*) - At the Lupin Cafe, a pull-in for lorries, driver Terry picks up Shirley. But crooks, led by uppercrust Jack Carter (Derek Francis) are lying in wait on a lonely stretch of road. So the hijackers can live it up on the proceeds, whilst kindred souls down and out Terry and Shirley get a bit friendly. From her jailbird husband Shirley learns the identity of the criminals, whilst independently Terry has tracked them down too, by extracting the information from his crooked partner. Shirley ends up being kidnapped by the crooks, just as they are about to nick a lorry with 30,000 of cosmetics. But Terry, with the police in tow, smash the gang and rescue Shirley

IMPACT (1963, directed by Peter Maxwell, MGM Boreham Wood Studios, 3*)- Crusading reporter Jack Moir (Conrad Phillips) wants to smash a Soho racketeer called the Duke. But it's the latter who strikes, outside Bricket Wood station, where Moir is framed for a mail train robbery, "outmanouevred by a very clever man." Sentence: two years. Inside: bitter plans for revenge. First night out: Jack dances with Melanie, The Duke's woman. "Leave Melanie alone!" Jack duffs The Duke up. That makes the gangster thirst for blood. Jack's girl Diane sensibly advises him to stop thirsting for revenge, and she has hit the nail on the head, I was tired too of Jack's unhealthy obsession. Destination: a refrgeration plant, where The Duke plans to freeze Jack to death. "Your turn to get frozen now," Jack warns The Duke, his scheme to force a confession that Jack had been framed

THE LEATHER BOYS (1963, directed by Sidney J Furie, Merton Park, 2*)- "Marriage- they don't even know the meaning of the word"- yes, that's young Reggie aka Dodgy, and Dot (Rita Tushingham), who's still at school. Though he rides a motorbike, they actually catch a No49 bus to get to their wedding reception. Then there's that honeymoon... at Butlins, where their incompatibility starts to come out- "you ain't a proper wife!" Reply: "you aint' a proper husband." Far too slowly, they drift apart, Reggie palling with "nutcase" Pete (played with his usual beautiful understatement by Dudley Sutton), before husband and wife have a final bustup at the iconic Ace Cafe. "You look like a couple of queers," is Dot's parting shot at them- and that's as close as it gets to Reggie and Pete's relationship. A motor cycle race all the way to Edinburgh proves an opportunity missed, despite nostalgic motorbike sequences, though Dot and Reggie are reunited briefly. But it's too late, she's off with another feller, and no, Pete's not for Reggie, an entirely unconvincing character.

LIVE IT UP (1963, directed by Lance Comfort), Pinewood Studios, 3*) - Perhaps the best you could say is that the numerous songs are spoilt by the film. Dave Martin's group The Smart Alecs are trying to get into the pop scene. Their lucky break comes when Dave's work for the GPO takes him to the film studios where a box file drops on his head. The resultant publicity leads to an appearance on ATV's What's News, but before they can perform a late breaking cricket story takes precedence. Of course they make it in the end! Gene Vincent is a good reason for watching the opening, and there are some quirky lively songs, Temptation Baby perhaps being the pick

THE MARKED ONE (1963, directed by Francis Searle, MGM Borehamwood Studios, 4*)- Lorry driver Don Mason (William Lucas) did a stretch for forging currency notes, but now he's out he won't hand the plates over, so his daughter Mary is threatened with kidnapping. The film gets across Mary's vulnerability well, as Don's estranged wife Kay (Zena Walker) contacts him again. Don tracks down his old partner in crime Chas Warren who is done in, so Don is prime suspect and he has to hide. There's an iconic coffee bar which Ed runs- he's after those plates. And a moving scene when Don contacts an antique dealer in Shoreditch who has the plates, but regrets his "stupid wasted life." Armed with the plates, Don first saves Kay from the lustful attentions of her pub employer then rescues the kidnapped Mary, payoff at the docks with a good final twist

MASTER SPY (1963, directed by Montgomery Tully, MGM Studios, 3*)- In this pre-James Bond spy story, Boris Turgenev (Stephen Murray) is a nuclear scientist who claims asylum in England. At a top secret establishment he continues his experiments. But information is being leaked, and when Alan Wheatley shows up we're not short of a suspect, "I don't trust anyone." Miss Telford, Boris' assistant begins to suspect, and is promptly drugged before being "disposed of"

A MATTER OF CHOICE (1963, directed by Vernon Sewell, Shepperton Studios, 3*)- I almost call this a film that gave B films a bad name, about Lisa who is cheating on Charles with her lover John (Anthony Steel). Their fates become entwined with Mike, a smoothie whose chatup line is that old, "I've never met anyone like you before." However it doesn't work, even with his pal Tony at the iconic Hip Bath Club, where Bob Sharples' great beat music rules the roost. They get kicked out and going home along a street get into a row with a policeman who is, perhaps accidentally pushed into the road. Right in front of the car driven by Lisa, with John as passenger. He gives chase after the two hooligans, a brick shied at him fells him. By now the youngsters are in a blind panic, hiding the unconscious man in a nearby garage, a decided error for it belongs to Charles, Lisa's husband. The semi-interest is whether the facts will come to light, and the film nicely sways from one possible ending to another, "we look as though we're getting away with it"

NURSE ON WHEELS (1963, directed by Gerald Thomas, Pinewood Studios, 5*)- New district nurse Joanne (Juliet Mills) has a lot of minor ailments to treat, and there's romance of course with the local doctor (Ronald Howard), or is it the local farmer (Ronald Lewis)? But although there are heartwarming moments, it's the comedy that's most memorable, especially Joanne's scatty mother (Esme "I'm not all there" Cannon) and a host of fine supporting stars, Noel Purcell, Athene Seyler, Joan Hickson, only Joan Sims has a more straight role. One odd scene with the nurse driving exceptionally badly, but otherwise this is not a real Carry On, or rather it's like the early Carry Ons, no smut, and all the better for that. But another subplot with Jim Dale is less amusing, though it has the effect of bringing about a happy ending and even concludes on a Carry On lavatorial joke

SHADOW OF FEAR (1963, directed by Ernest Morris, Brighton Studios, 3*)- Oil man Bill Martin (Paul Maxwell) is asked to deliver a message from Baghdad to British Intelligence in London. But after obeying orders- to the enemy- the information is "highly dangerous," and he must be silenced. He gets away from the spies to join his girl Barbara, whose Uncle John puts them in touch with the real MI5. They persuade him to act as decoy to lure the gang into the open. But they are captured at gunpoint, and taken out to the open sea

THE YELLOW TEDDY BEARS (1963, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, Shepperton Studios, 5*) -"You know what little girls are," the only problem being that these are sixth formers and they Know more than their parents or teachers want them to. Lin (Annette Whiteley) has become pregnant by window cleaner and local pop singer Kinky (Iain Gregory, who also sings the film's lively title rock song). Unfortunately it is all downhill from here, a heady mix of 60's morals versus the old guard and suburban respectableness. Here's a good summary by David Capey, "it is not a bawdy buttock heaving picture but thinly attempts to be a social document."

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THE BOY WITH A FLUTE (1964, directed by Montgomery Tully, AB Elstree Studios, 5*)- Salviani's 1795 painting is owned by two sisters in Hampshire. Dealer Conrad (Bill Nagy) offers Dorothy 40,000 for it, "above market value." However a second painting shows up, owner Caroline (Andree Melly)- so which is genuine? An expert (Ernest Clark) authenticates one- Caroline's! It is of course a swindle, and Dorothy's sister Anne tricks the crooked dealer in a nice little twist

CATACOMBS (1964, directed by Gordon Hessler, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- "You're lovely," Uncle Raymond tells his niece Alice 35-23-37 (Jane Merrow). The snag with the film is that he is approaching 50, hardly a catch for a young girl, even though all is explained. Is he really "the best looking uncle in town"?! Raymond's powerful executive wife Ellen is in the way. When she catches them actually kissing, she threatens to cut him off penniless from her fortune. He has one option. After burying her in the potting shed, with the help of his man Corbett, he fixes for an actress to impersonate Ellen on holiday abroad. The actress is killed in a manufactured car crash. So what can go wrong? Ellen's presence haunts the couple. Then Raymond finds Ellen's corpse is missing, "she's alive!" The drawn out ending at least provides a clever twist

DO YOU KNOW THIS VOICE? (1964, directed by Frank Nesbitt, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Though this starts as the story of the murder of a schoolboy, it turns into the study of the killer Joe and his distraught wife Anne. She had phoned a ransom demand, in a disguised voice, and a tape of it is played on tv. However though this gives the film a title, it is really about an Italian lady Rosa (Isa Miranda) who had seen Anne making the call, but had not recognised her, even though she was her next door neighbour! She must be eliminated, and Joe tries strangling, poisoning then strangling again. The trouble with the film is that I couldn't get into the dumb bum character of Joe (Dan Dureya), nor could I feel any sorrow for him in the ironic ending

A JOLLY BAD FELLOW (1964, directed by Don Chaffey, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- A science professor (Leo McKern) wants to "clean up" the human race, starting with his obnoxious enemies. A new drug he has discovered is the ideal method. First the proctor (Duncan Macrae), "I hope something nasty happens to him." He dances stark naked on the campus. Next is gossipmonger Mrs Pugh-Smith (Patricia Jessel) who is drunk at a public meeting, "have you taken leave of your senses?" It's a great storyline, though the film neeed tighter treatment since it is far too rambling, with the prof's dirty weekend with his assistant Delia. Next for elimination is the rival for a senior professorship, Dr Hughes (Dennis Price). Delia guesses the truth, "your future depends on me... I'm going to gobble you up." The poetic ending is too obvious, "really very funny"

ONE WAY PENDULUM (1964, directed by Peter Yates, Twickenham Studios, 4*)- In the era when Saturday was a half holiday, Arthur (Eric Sykes) finishes his work at 12.45 and makes for his modest terrace home. En route he collects an enormous heap of junk and we are left guessing what for. At home, mum does "draw a line at" one thing, but her dysfunctional family are permitted all sorts of liberties, like son Tony in the attic teaching his speaking weighing machines to sing in harmony. Arthur is free to make a hole in the living room ceiling, to fit in a giant statue, his reconstruction of part of The Old Bailey. Now we commence a zany trial, Tony in the dock, "it was a kind of joke, my lord." He is accused of 43 murders, but though much is way out brilliance, the court scene is too protracted, needed editing, and lacks one final twist to finish well

SMOKESCREEN (1964, directed by Jim O'Connolly, Brighton Studios, 8*)- Over Seaford Head a car descends in flames. Assessor 'Ropey' and insurance salesman Bayliss investigate John Dexter's 100,000 policy. Where's his corpse? In his smart suit and bowler, Peter Vaughan meticulously probes the facts, with some humour too, particularly in his tight fisted attitude towards his expenses, but what makes the film of special note is the scene which reveals the reason for his miserliness, as we glimpse his home life in a scene which speaks volumes. Then there is his unorthodox "hollowleg treatment" of a suspect's secretary Helen (Penny Morrell) at The Grand Brighton, with champagne cocktails, quite out of character. One of many well observed vignettes, great fun with interesting location shooting, particularly at the now defunct Hellingly station with Deryck Guyler, an absorbing little mystery

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BE MY GUEST (1965, director: Lance Comfort, Twickenham Studios, 4*) - "Home? We've moved into a museum," a bit like this storyline in which acting pros Ivor Salter and Diana King have to mix with predictably bad teenage actors who all anyway become subordinate to the pop music which is mostly in the hands of museum-like groups. The 'Brighton Beat' didn't quite seem to rival the Merseyside Sound which the film invites to "move over," but at least Jerry Lee Lewis incongruously sings, and one can always enjoy the sights of Sixties Brighton

CUCKOO PATROL (1965, directed by Duncan Wood, MGM Boreham Wood Studios, 1*)- Pop stars (here Freddy Garrity) rarely make good actors, but he's not helped by the script which has far too obvious jokes. What plot there is revolves round the Totteridge Scouts, off on camp. The disconnected incidents en route include a lengthy wrestling match, far too long, and the more traditional fare of a robbery in a department store. Kenneth Connor is far too over the top, though John le Mesurier remains his calm unflappable self. Arthur Mullard plays his usual dumb stooge, but it says a lot when the best part is the indignant Guide Leader (Peggy Ann Clifford), probably because it's a mercifully short part. No wonder this film was two years in the can before getting a release

DATELINE DIAMONDS (1965 Pinewood Studios, directed by Jeremy Summers, 4*)- "I'd say it was impossible for anyone to smuggle diamonds out of this country," rashly claims Inspector Jenkins (Conrad Phillips) in a film that can't quite decide if it really is a thriller. There are pop songs by Kiki Dee ('Small Town'), The Chantelles ('I Think of You') and The Small Faces ('With Love') etc, and comedy surfaces when an unreliable witness to a diamond robbery proves to be bus conductress Patsy Rowlands. "Not a bit like Z Cars," she tells the police. But she does prove instrumental in helping track down a pop manager (Kenneth Cope) who's been blackmailed into smuggling the stolen goods on board that Sixties icon, The Pirate Radio Ship. The inspector arrives at a pop dance to find... his daughter! "Dad, what are you doing here?" But after a chase through suburban streets he finally catches the master criminal (William Lucas)

GO TO BLAZES (1965, directed by Michael Truman, ABPC Studios, 3*)- Three crooks (Dave King, Daniel Massey and Norman Rossington) oddly decide that the perfect getaway vehicle after a crime must be a fire engine. They nick one from a Welsh fire station, then return to London to plan their next robbery, a bank. The film is jolly enough without ever being funny, with slightly enjoyable cameos from Miles Malleson and Derek Nimmo. The film perks up momentarily when Robert Morley has a go at being the crime Professor, then revives again for Mr Withers, played by Dennis Price who teaches the gang how to be real firemen. This proves essential since they have already been thwarted once by having to attend a real emergency. In a costumiers next door to the bank, the professor starts a fire, a neat plan, it is nearly the perfect crime, except having to douse a real fire is their undoing. "Always time to admire a work of art," declares the professor in the middle of the crime, but sadly this film, despite the talent on show, isn't really worth lingering over

GONKS GO BEAT (1965, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, Shepperton Studios, 4*)- Wilco Roger (Kenneth Connor) is an intergalactic peacekeeper, settling a dispute between "madmen" on Planet Earth. Rival musical traditions clash: Beatland with its way out music to dig, and Balladisle, distinctly "more restful" and square. Steve and Helen are in rival camps, but fall in sort of love, though the plot has wilted even before this. Here's an unashamed feature length pop video of some truly third rate acts, fascinating as they are mostly so awful. You could try and salvage Lulu's two numbers, plus Perry Ford, while the rest sort of grow on you. Terry Scott adds a flicker of comedy, as he marches forth in a musical war full of bizarre noises, Stravinsky eat your heart out. Biggest mystery is how the final song is the only one to get voted a Hit. Certainly a final corny pun about Mars is worth not waiting for

HE WHO RIDES A TIGER (1965, directed by Charles Crichton. Made at Goldhawk, Twickenham, and Marylebone Studios, 3*)- The film attempts to show the human face of Peter (Tom Bell), who is nothing but an unpleasant hardened successful thief. We are shown his soft spots- for Woodley, the crook who taught him all he knows, another spot for an injured vixen, and most of all his weakness for women. He ditches a top model when he falls for single mother Joanne (Judi Dench), but as soon as he reveals he's a corok, she drops him. So it's back to another "big job" for Peter, even though she comes round. This is mostly cliched with a few nods to the problems of single parents, the child scenes are twee and the ending 60s cinema at its not best

A MATTER OF WHO (1965, directed by Don Chaffey, MGM Boreham Wood Studios, 5*)- Here's the traditional American coming to the UK, this time it's once again Alex Nicol as Edward Kennedy (not THE EK), but the rest of the film is far from standard fare. Kennedy's partner has contracted smallpox, so it's down to Archibald Bannister of the World Health Organisation to organise a vaccination programme and track down the dreaded carrier. Since he is played by Terry-Thomas, he adds a suave and compelling dry humour in his detective skills. This is essentially a mystery with some happy comedy touches. I specially liked T-T's reaction when an amorous monkey makes a pass at him. Archie 'Capone' resorts to illegal "outrageous" subterfuge only to find himself under arrest thanks to a more typical T-T blunder, but his patient search is at length rewarded

THE NIGHT CALLER (1965, directed by John Gilling, Shepperton Studios, 5*) - A small missile, more a large football, has landed, and three researchers work out it is an "energy valve," here to lure girls into space, apparently. Thankfully some well chosen moments of humour mingle with the drama which is in two parts, the second nearly a conventional police hunt lead by Inspector Hartley (Alfred Burke) after the thing which abducts the girls to Gannymede, near Jupiter. Two of the researchers wind up vitims of the alien Medra, can Hartley prevent another girl being spirited away? He chases after Medra, yes it is a good old police chase, for Medra is even driving the traditional Jag. With his energy valve he is at a definite advantage

RUNAWAY RAILWAY (1965, directed by Jan Darnley-Smith, Pinewood Studios, 5*) - Young Charlie is living every schoolboy's dream, driving a steam train, name of Matilda. But "they reckon she'd had it," as the line is suffering the topical dreaded Beeching axe. Matilda has been cared for by our gang of children, all strictly without British Railways approval. Also against regulations is their sabotaging Matilda to ensure the eager BR official (Hugh Lloyd) cannot remove "the obsolete locomotive," instead it blows up in his face. This proves an error by the children since millionaire Lord Chalk might buy the railway line, if only Matilda were still working. To pay for repairs, they hold a disco party on the station platform with latest guitar music. However Mr Jones (Sydney Tafler) and his "bit dim" sidekick Galore (Ronnie Barker) see in Matilda the chance to rob the London Mail, in an even more topical storyline. Ronnie Barker spends his time "playing the goat" with lots of improbable but enjoyable railway scenes involving "a dirty great express" chasing Matilda with level crossing keeper Graham Stark kept plenty busy. "What a way to run a railway!" The plot anticipates the Great St Trinians Train Robbery, which film owes much of its railway ideas to this. "They're heading for London!" Ah, maybe now it's Oh Mr Porter, runaway Matilda with no brakes pursues the mail train and smashes into the terminus buffers. The crooks are seized, and with the reward money the line can be reopened- take that Dr Beeching!

YOU MUST BE JOKING! (1965, directed by Michael Winner, 4*)- Terry-Thomas starts it off with a fizz, Wilfred Hyde-White adds his class, introducing the army initiative test devised by T-T. Contestants have to collect iconic symbols of the British way of life, apparently these include the lock of a French singer's hair! Lionel Jeffries as a dour but determined Scot is the best of the bunch, but unfortunately the American star, while a good dancer, is unfunny and is assisted by an actress who in my view cannot act. There are nice lines amid the embarrassing ones, building quite well to the close and entertainingly irritating finish, "an absolute shower"

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