Email me (David Moore) . . . . . DINOSAUR FILMS - The Page that Reviews Old British B Films
Studios: Nettlefold Highbury Marylebone Southall Beaconsfield Brighton Islington Gate Merton Park New Elstree

My Star * Rating is based on my own taste: 10 is brilliant, 4 is average, 0 is truly dreadful.

OLD MOTHER RILEY'S JUNGLE TREASURE (1950, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold, 3*)- Mistress Riley works in an antique shop which is haunted by an old pirate. Her bed hides a treasure map, so starts an expedition, in competition with incompetent crooks. Under a temple is buried the treasure, somehow Old Mother Riley ends up as Queen on the cannibal isle. My problem is that she is so exaggerated, and Kitty is as boring as those song interludes in Marx Brothers films. Garry Marsh has the best role as a dubious airline pilot, with his equally incompetent sidekick Peter Butterworth. When the film veers away from its stars, it's at its best

ANOTHER MAN'S POISON (1951, directed by Irving Rapper, Nettlefold, 5*)- "the dark recesses" of the mind of Janet Frobisher (Bette Davis), a crime writer who was once Mrs Preston. She has just killed her husband who had been involved in a bank robbery with employee George Bates. He takes on Preston's persona against Janet's wishes, who has designs on Larry the fiance of her secretary. It's all a little stagey, and when George deliberately shoots Janet's beloved horse Fury, rancour leads to an inevitable climax, "no suicides or anything melodramatic," yet what else could it be?

THE LONG DARK HALL (1951, directed by Anthony Bushell, Nettlefold, 3*)- Showgirl Rose is murdered, her admirer Arthur is the unlikely suspect. He's an unsympathetic character, though innocent, Rex Harrison plays him with a singular lack of depth. That's the weakness of this film, we don't care enough for the accused. The lighting at Nettlefold was ideal for film noirs, and we are given dark shadows, deep suspicion, and clandestine secret. Yet the second half, Arthur's trial, is too protracted, even if the verdict be in doubt, for his alibi "doesn't ring true." The real killer is only a minor menace, but the ending is original

EMERGENCY CALL (1952, directed by Lewis Gilbert, Nettlefold, 2*)- Required: transfusion for a five year old girl, very rare blood group. Inevitably this veers towards sentimentality, but mostly the storyline is lost in the search for donors. The first possible donor, George (Earl Cameron) refuses point blank to help, a second possible has died. None left on the register! So Inspector Lane (Jack Warner) joins the search, frustratingly the sub plots become too much of a focus, before a boxer gives his pint. Then George comes round, and finally Jacko is located, but he is a murderer on the run, three pints at long last, too long. Some compensation comes from some lively cameos, including Thora Hird and Vida Hope

More Nettlefold film reviews next edition

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Nettlefold Studios
Hurst Grove, Walton on Thams. Telephone Walton 2414. Four stages: 3 approx 120x85ft, 1 85x64ft.
Originally the studios of Cecil Hepworth in 1899, it began life as Nettlefold in 1926. In 1955 TV production of Robin Hood began here, and the studios were eventually renamed Walton Studios. They closed in 1961.

Crime dramas:

SEND FOR PAUL TEMPLE (1946, directed by John Argyle, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- As the Midland Gang are mysteriously baffling poor Scotland Yard, Paul Temple is unofficially called in to capture this gang of smash and grab raiders. "Greenfingers" is a clue on the mouth of a dying eyewitness, and this turns out to be the old name of the pub where the crooks meet. The murder of a Yard detective deepens the gloom, though the dead man's sister, Miss Trent, does help brighten up the case. But the woodenness of Anthony Hulme in the title role spoils even this, as in this sample exchange: Miss Trent- "I think I can imagine you as Romeo." Temple- "unfortunately I played Juliet." His mediocre acting is occasionally infectious, at his worst he utters "this is the chance we've been waiting for," without the least inflection of enthusiasm. Too much such talk and too little action make this not Francis Durbridge's finest hour

CALLING PAUL TEMPLE (1948, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 5*) - Maniac murderer Rex has killed four women, so Paul and Steve Temple take on the case, John Bentley and Dinah Sheridan giving the film some sparkle. A car crash and a time bomb thwart their investigations into an Egyptian doctor, a tiny Welshman and a blackmail victim as they whisk from London to Canterbury, where Steve is bound and gagged in a monastery. When Paul tries to rescue her, he too is gagged and the vault where they are bound is flooded. "Paul, what are we going to do?" But the couple are just freed in time, and in time to unmask Rex. "Paul, look out, he's got a gun!" My favourite line, very much of its time: "Hotel Waiter: 'If only you had been here before the war, sir.' Paul Temple: 'This cod was!'"

MIDNIGHT EPISODE (1950, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- This film is nearly but never quite absorbing- an incident in the life of Mr Prince, busker (Stanley Holloway) changes him, when he happens to find a well filled wallet in Ealing Broadway, fallen out of car JOP861, later found in the Thames. Mystery surrounds the driver Edward Harris, who had a second life as a Mr Arnold. Why are several people attempting to retrieve his wallet? Either by cash or by force, they are determined to get it, to keep its secret. "Every time you tell the truth, it gets more suspicious"

SCARLET THREAD (1951, directed by Lewis Gilbert. Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Pickpocket Freddie (Laurence Harvey) rescues rich Mr Bellingham (Sydney Tafler) when he's attacked by roughs. So Freddie is offered a job, a smash and grab raid on a Cambridge jewellers. The inexperienced Freddie panics and shoots a passer-by, and after a chase he and Bellingham hide in a don's house, where the frustrated spinster Josephine (Kathleen Byron) entertains them, thinking they are old students. The film is at one moment a travelogue round the university city, as well as an improbable love story as Freddie falls for her. But it never excites our involvement, and dies when she learns her father is the dead eyewitness to the crime. Yes, they are "a couple of cheap crooks," as it finally dawns on us that this is a cheap and rather seedy film. She goads the pair to fall out, then there's a chase around the college to a very abrupt end- possibly the final scene is lost?

TALL HEADLINES (1951, directed by Terence Young, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- All very middle class, "I do wish they'd increase the cheese ration," until eldest son Ronnie is arrested and hanged for the Barking Dog Case, a young girl's murder on Putney Heath. This is a study of a family who try a fresh start, but it's impossible, "haven't I seen you some place before?" Maybe it's worst for siblings Frankie (Jane Hylton) and Philip (Michael Denison), who falls for temptress Doris (Mai Zetterling) and starts wondering if he's turning into a killer like his brother. "Nothing more can harm us now," but it can, as the deeply depressing story becomes the stuff of melodrama, deeply misjudged. Of course Philip should have come clean with Doris, "I ought to have told you this." The film then mistakenly adds a forced happy conclusion, which at least has the merit of relieving our gloom

THE LARGE ROPE (1952, directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Three years Tom (Donald Houston) served for laying hands on Amy. He was innocent. Now he has returned to his village, where he's not welcome even by his father. The film tries to introduce too many characters- it happens on the very day his ex-girl Susan is to marry Geoff. it's a deeply depressing study of village gossipers. When the flirtatious Amy is strangled, there's a ready made suspect for Inspector Harmer and the zealous new local bobby. Old Ben is a key witness against Tom. It's the old lynch mob tale as the crowd get "restive," it's all too pat. When Tom breaks police custody, the crowd give chase, but he gives them the slip and confronts Geoff, "I've kept my mouth shut too long." Quite why I wasn't sure. Or how the real killer manages to betray himself

ESCAPE ROUTE (1952, directed by Seymour Friedman and Peter Graham Scott, Nettlefold Studios, 5*) - Steve Rossi (George Raft) creeps into England avoiding airport customs, in order to track down the elusive Michael Grand, who's in charge of a gang smuggling top scientists over to (where else?) Russia. Rossi enlists the help of British agent Joan (Sally Gray in her final film)- "you are a woman after all." Together they spend the film in a long slightly tedious chase across London, occasionally exciting. Raft moves as though he's seen all this many times before, only difference being, this is a British movie

FLANNELFOOT (1952, directed by MacLean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 3*) - "Who is Flannelfoot?" the Yard are asking. A Fascinatin' man perhaps, according to the song sung at the start, a gentleman thief that Inspector Duggan (Ronald Adam) is desperate to arrest, with the aid of his colleague Sgt Harry Fitzgerald (Ronald Howard). Getting some "good copy" on the crook, Mitchell (Jack Watling) of the Daily Comet is hoping "Fleet Street shows Scotland Yard what's what." They all join forces to catch him at a weekend house party at Wexford Court, home of the owner of the Comet. There Duggan makes an arrest, but he's proved wrong when there's another robbery "the game's up... this'll take some explaining." After many plodding scenes, the identity of Flannelfoot is finally revealed after a rooftop chase when the crook goes over the top in traditional fashion. Of course the whole thing, an EJ Fancey production, is over the top, with Fancey's usual slightly inappropriate stock background music and somewhat jarring continutity. But that's all part of the fun

PAUL TEMPLE RETURNS (1952, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Who is The Marquis? He's killed three times, no obvious motive. Since the Yard detectives are a little slow, Paul Temple and his wife step in, finding one of the Yard men is top of their suspects list! A "prima facie case" can also be made against Sir Felix, especially since he's played by Christopher Lee. However he is found dead, so who is The Marquis? "There could be other suspects." The film rambles pleasantly enough, without undue excitement. "Temple, have you gone mad?"

THE BLUE PARROT (1953, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- Supt Chester (the dependable Ballard Berkeley) gets the help of Bob (Dermot Walsh) who's "American, they take over everything," in the Rocks Owen murder case. Sgt Maureen Maguire is a more than useful ally. Their pondersome investigation centres on the Blue Parrot Club, exclusive but awfully cramped. Chester neatly sums it up when he remarks "there's plenty of time, I'm not going to rush things." Ultra suspicious are Carson (John le Mesurier), owner of the club, as well as Taps (Edwin Richfield) and Stevens (Ferdy Mayne). "It's a pity it has to end like this," as Maureen finds herself "in a tough spot." "Sleep well copper," the killer tells her

PARK PLAZA 605 (1953, directed by Bernard Knowles, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Norman Conquest (Tom Conway) accidentally hits a pigeon on the golf course. On the dead bird is a message about a meeting in room 605 in a hotel. Here Norman encoutners the beautiful Nadina (Eva Bartok), plus one corpse. Supt Bill Williams (unusually Sid James) accuses Norman of murder. At the rendezvous, Nadina was expecting him to hand over diamonds, and to get them, Pixie, Norman's girl is kidnapped, then Norman. The film has pretensions of style with its catchy theme tune, nice touches of humour and Norman's Frazer Nash sports car, though it never utterly charms

GRAND NATIONAL NIGHT (1953, directed by Bob McNaught, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- If anyone ever deserved to get bumped off, it is the self centred Babs (Moira Lister), cruel to horses, an outrageous flirt. Her husband Gerry (Nigel Patrick) has to miss the Grand National because of her cruelty to his favourite horse, but his Star Mist wins, a cause for Babs to celebrate. In the early hours, when she returns home, wallowing in self pity, the couple argue. Next day her disappearance causes much speculation and when her body is found. the meticulous Inspector Ayling (Michael Hordern) starts to tighten the net around Gerry. Calmly and systematically, he dismembers Gerry's "plausible story," the accidental discovery of a railway ticket the nail in Gerry's coffin. A fascinating tale, how can a happy ending be manufactured? I remember first watching this when it was screened during the ITV actors' dispute in early 1962, and it remains as absorbing so many years later

OPERATION DIPLOMAT (1953 based on Francis Durbridge's TV serial, directed by John Guillermin, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- A meandering tale that can't quite ignite enthusiasm. Mark Fenton (Guy Rolfe), a surgeon, is virtually kidnapped in order to operate on a rich diplomat. Following a trail of murders, he later conducts extensive enquiries to work out where this operation had been conducted. However when his patient has a relapse he gets a second chance but by the time he does solve the puzzle "they've cleared out." Only a final desperate chase prevents the diplomat from being smuggled to behind the Iron Curtain. Note- William Franklyn appears uncredited as a doctor.

THE DIAMOND (1953, directed by Dennis O'Keefe, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) - today's US arrival at the airport is Joe (Dennis O'Keefe) of the US Treasury Department, who is after recovering $1m, with a little help from Inspector 'Mac' Maclean (Philip Friend). The pair enjoy a few good interchanges and healthy rivalry for Miss Marlene Miller, whose scientist father is missing, inventor of an incredible process that can created perfect diamonds. These are imported into the country, the Yard tailing the smugglers to a Hatton Garden dealer (Alan Wheatley almost inevitably). There is a well photographed shooting on the escalator at St John's Wood station, and a dramatic finale in which Joe rescues Marlene

MEET MR CALLAGHAN (1953, directed by Charles Saunders, Nettlefold, 10*)- You don't need to follow this sparkling private eye tale, for Eric Spear's music is catchy enough. Full of herrings, its about 4 nephews that dry detective (Derrick de Marney who relishes this role) blackmails in order to discover which has killed a millionaire. William, who's to marry Cynthis, donates 300, 200 comes from broke Bellamy, and 500 from Jeremy for a fake will. But it all is honourably used to pay off Paul for a fake confession. In between battling with Gringall of the Yard (the splendid Trevor Reid), Slim Callaghan throws away variations on his catchphrase: "Callaghan Investigations never lets its clients down"...then as an aside... "well hardly ever," "Callaghan Investigations never sleeps ... well hardly ever," "Callaghan Investigations never makes bargains with crooks... well hardly ever." Or this variation: "Callaghan Investigations never blackmails its clients-" no addition. And at the end a besotted Cynthis reminds him of his words "Callaghan Investigations never lets its clients down" to which Slim adds "certainly not this time"

THE SCARLET WEB (1953, directed by Charles Saunders, Nettlefold Studios, 7*) -This blonde is waiting for Jake Winter as he is leaving Wormwood Scrubs. She has a proposition, but it's a trap, and he is drugged. When he comes to, he finds a dagger in his hand, a dead woman in the bedroom. He is actually an insurance investigator, and he needs help badly. His new boss 'Honey' is the girl to provide it, and the film perks up as Hazel Court as Honey has some good repartee with Griffith Jones. as Jake. He traces the mystery blonde, name of Laura, as he is pursued for the murder of another witness. By playing off Laura against the murdered woman's husband, Honey nearly gets done in herself. A satisfying film, with good supporting cameos from Ronnie Stevens as Simpson, and David Stoll

THE BROKEN HORSESHOE (1953, directed by Martyn C Webster, Nettlefold Studios, 7*)- Mark Fenton (Robert Beatty) is a doctor sucked into a typical Francis Durbridge mystery after he operates on Constance, a hit and run case. "Never hold anything back from the police," his detective brother advises him, but he fails to tell what little he knows of the elusive Miss Freeman (Elizabeth Sellars) as he's infatuated with her, when she presents the patient with flowers in the shape of a broken horseshoe. When Constance is later found murdered, Fenton covers up for her. Constance had given into Fenton's safe keeping a railway ticket from London to Dover, for which a mysterious stranger then offers Fenton 500- rail travel was mighty expensive even in those days! Finally Miss Freeman has to confide in Fenton explaining that The Horseshoe organisation is, she admits to her admirer, the smuggling of illegal but worthy refugees from Poland. But though he swallows this at first, she's only "stringing him along" as it eventually proves to be a vicious racehorse doping ring. Robert Beatty manages to convey the doctor's greenness in a world of crime very well, whilst Elizabeth Sellars makes her usual darkly seductive villainess.

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

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 only slightly good moment, with some good close up shots, is when Rick and the nervous Ken (Kenneth Griffith) hijack a bus, and hole out in a boathouse

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

RADIO CAB MURDER (1954 directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- This starts in quasi-documentary style, showing us ex-safecracker Fred Martin (Jimmy Hanley), at work driving his taxi OLD135. The police persuade him to become a nark to nail a gang of bank robbers. But as Myra (Lana Morris) tells him honestly, "you look more like a friendly bear than a gangster." Ostensibly sacked from his job, Fred is invited by the gang to crack a safe, "no risk at all," at a bank. Certainly the job is well planned, but their blunder is in the getaway car, a stolen taxi, none other than OLD135. Myra is able to listen to the gang's chat on the cab radio. "Fred Martin is in great danger," her boss warns, "to save his life, we must locate that cab." A fix is slowly got on the stolen taxi, but the gang have now tumbled to the fact that Fred is an informer. He is locked in a deep freeze at their headquarters, the Jack Frost Ice Cream Company. The thieves then fall out amongst themselves and the police easily round them up, no exciting chase even. So it all ends happily, Fred and Myra happily married, back working on the taxis.

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

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

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 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

STOCK CAR (1955, Nettlefold Studios, directed by Wolf Rilla, 3*) - Monty nicks a car, taking it to a garage his boss McNeil is about to foreclose on. The owner had died in a stock car crash, and his daughter Katie, a nurse (Rona Anderson) is vainly trying to keep the business afloat. Her dad's "buddy" Larry Duke (Paul Carpenter) helps her, but then swans off with McNeil's girl Gina (Susan Shaw) when she accuses him of causing her father's accident. Larry enters a race to pay off the mortgage, but of course he is nobbled and crashes...

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

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

SUSPENDED ALIBI (1956, directed by Alfred Shaughnessy, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Paul Pearson (Patrick Holt) "walks like a man with a guilty conscience" over his affair with Diana (Naomi Chance). His young son Bobby's knife is found in the lung of actor Bill, who was giving Paul an alibi while he saw Diana one last time. Paul's wife Lynn is "in for a shock," when Paul has to confess to police. But when Diana, out of spite, refuses to confirm Paul's tale, and the killer Steve, to protect himself, kills her, "it couldn't look blacker" for Paul. He is tried and found guilty. The scenes with Honor Blackman as Lynn are perhaps the best, it's like "some sort of dream." Steve's simple oversight with a pencil thankfully enables Paul's name to be cleared, "your troubles are over"

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

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

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

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

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

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Highbury Studios (1937-1956)
Its heyday was just after the war, before it all but closed in 1949, given over to tv production.
98 Highbury New Park N5. Phone CANonbury 3215. One studio 80ftx35ft.

INQUEST (1939, directed by Roy Boulting, Highbury Studios, 5*)- Intriguing opening when a hidden gun in discovered in a roof. Thomas Hamilton had died in this house last year, and now his wife Margaret (Elizabeth Allan) "is so terribly worried," and with good reason, for it was she who had bought the gun, and well studied village gossip is accusing her of murder. Centrepiece of the film is the inquest, presided over by the weak coroner (Herbert Lomas) who has decided Margaret is guilty, not that she's entirely innocent in her relationship with Richard (Philip Friend). Her defending counsel (Hay Petrie) ruffles the coroner even out Perry Masoning that great lawyer, exposing the real murderer after a heavy welter of interrogation. A neat solution, though after the initial poetic scenes of an idyllic rural life just before the war, the film suffers somewhat from a too heavy reliance on dialogue

FLY AWAY PETER (1947, directed by Charles Saunders, Highbury Studios, 6*) - Here's Maple Avenue, cosy suburbia, all very comfy, though now Arthur at age 24 wants to fly the nest. He's been offered a job in Nigeria by his boss John Neilsen (Patrick Holt), who is really only after Arthur's sister Phyllis. "John has asked me to marry him," she announces, and they are to live in Norway. More fun and certainly more innocent is younger sister Myra's rapport with 'Pie Face' (Peter Hammond), they provide the comedy, specially when he awkwardly attempts to kiss her. But the story is more soap opera for mother refuses to countenance Phyll's marriage to a divorcee. The film moves on two years, in time for Arthur's first home leave and Phyll's news, "you're going to be a grandma," and Myra, now 18 is now getting engaged to Pie Face. The happy family reunion ends an old fashioned, heartwarming and somehow rather nice story

A PIECE OF CAKE (1947, directed by John Irwin, Highbury Studios, 5*)- Cashing in on Cyril Fletcher's Odd Odes, this fantasy brings his ode to life. His character Mr Mound (Laurence Naismith) materialises at a party, answering his every need as the pains of rationing are wished away, his dinner party fit for a king, and his wife's wardrobe fir for a queen. After the feast, such apparent extravagance leads him into trouble with the prim Food Officer (Jon Pertwee) who wants to know where his rationing coupons came from, and, perhaps the best part, a reckoning from "great big bully" spiv (Harry Fowler) from whom the food had apparently come. Mound ought to sort it out but he now takes on a mind of his own as he kidnaps Cyril's wife, takes her to a showdown in Doomsday Hall as the film gets wilder and wilder, like a dream, in its pre-Goon-like madness. Made after the end of the war, the film reveals the shackles of the dark years being lifted

TO THE PUBLIC DANGER (1947, directed by Terence Fisher, Highbury Studios, 3*)- Opening music is pure British, rather tuneless, slightly dramatic, pleasantly cosy. Reggie and Captain Cole are two drinkers who have a lesson to learn, as we all still have, for this film failed to get across its message. Cole (Dermot Walsh) picks up bad time girl (Susan Shaw of course) in a pub and rather the worse for booze, they race off in his speedster. From her passenger seat, Nancy is encouraged to take the wheel- "it's dead easy." When a man on his bike is hit, happiness changes to hysteria and the film now explores their consciences in a tedious fashion, with Fred, Nancy's girl, arguing for the right, and being beaten up for his trouble. In an anticlimas, he learns no one has been injured, though for the rest, the drunk, his floosie and the inebriate Reggie, their end is predictable. "I can't drive properly until I am tight." A film only slightly redeemed by Susan Shaw and by Roy Plomley as the most unlikely drunk ever

PENNY AND THE POWNALL CASE (1947, directed by Slim Hand, Highbury Studios, 3*)- "Being drawn in the nude," that's Penny Justin (Peggy Evans), though she's really only a model who hankers after being a detective. She finds the next best thing, getting hitched to Inspector Michael Carson of the Yard (Ralph Michael) whom she meets via her roommate Molly (an unblonde Diana Dors). Penny's boss (a very young Christopher Lee) is the artist who is using his strip cartoon to send messages which relate to the smuggling of war criminals. Penny helps Carson, "might be dangerous," only for him to save her from her boss' clutches. "How'm I doing Michael?" An unambitious little film with a hint of style above its station

TROUBLE IN THE AIR (1948, directed by Charles Saunders, Highbury Studios, 4*)- A mildly enjoyable comedy, pleasant and unambitious, that doesn't develop the comedy potential of the storyline. In sleepy Crumbledon-in-the-Dale, squire Sir Charles is broke, but his wily butler Fred Somers (Freddie Frinton) keeps him afloat- just. Financial worries could be a thing of the past, if Sir Charles sells his land @5 an acre- though it's worth much more if a road development goes ahead. Also, a BBC producer (Jimmy Edwards) is offering fifteen guineas for a bellringing broadcast, but this is a disaster and a baliff appears, though he's actually the man from the pools with a 28,000 win. Perhaps the funniest scene is Freddie doing his drunk routine filling in the pools, whilst the oddest moment is Bill Owen and Sam Costa oversinging We're Gathering Flowers

SONG FOR TOMORROW (1948, directed by Terence Fisher, Highbury, 3*)- Really a vehicle for the forgotten Evelyn McCabe's singing. She plays Helen Maxwell, it's a superficial story of her boyfriend Captain Roger Stanton (Ralph Michael) who treats amnesia victim Flt Lt Derek Wardell. Now it's Helen's voice that helps him regain his confidence. And yes, it seems to be love. This helps Derek, but affects her singing career. And a bit of a blow for Roger. So to the classic dilemma- Dr Roger's op on Derek to help him regain his memory. Success, but has love flown away? Helen's Covent Garden debut comes before we find out. However the climax is awfully tamely done. James Hayer as Helen's singing teacher, according to your viewpoint is either an irritation or provides some necessary light relief

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Marylebone Studios
245 Marylebone Road NW1. Phone AMBassador 1881, PADdington 6201.
Two Studios 56ftx22ft6in. 44ft6x22ft6.

DEATH IN HIGH HEELS (1947, directed by Tommy Tomlinson, Marylebone Studios 4*)- The detective introduces the seven suspects in a novel intro about Death in a Regent Street dress shop. Stilted dialogue, not aided by some weak acting spoil the effective start. Things do improve when the inspector (Don Stannard) questions the staff, one of whom hides the poison "down the who-ha"(!). An odd Laurel and Hardy-like joke with the detectives' trilbies is only one of the pecularities of this oddball short which ends with the usual "your denouement is brilliant inspector." Yes, he spotted that clue on the shoe with the pale green paint!

RIVER PATROL (1948, directed by Ben Hart, Marylebone Studios, 3*)- a curiously primitive early Hammer short. Robbie (John Blythe) is on the trail of smugglers who have, wait for it, shipped in 20,000 nylons. With his redoutable assistant Jean, undercover they meet up with Joe, who has some for sale. That gives a lead to a gambling club, authentic 40s, where the manager buys some black market whiskey, supplied by Robbie. Soon they are intoduced to the ruthless Gov (Wally Patch) who catches Robbie snooping and has him taken to a warehouse for disposal. But Robbie frees himself and gives the Gov a lesson in punch ups, before a nice corny ending, a wink from our hero as he kisses Jean, The End scribbled on his bandaged hand

THE BESPOKE OVERCOAT (1955, directed by Jack Clayton, Marylebone Studios, 1*)- A ghost visits Number One Tailor Morry, asking for justice on his miserly boss who forced him to work in the cold, and refused to give him a warm coat. The ghost had paid Morry 10, but it was too late, "that's how you get dead." Visually impressive with its dark sets, this is too clever by half, a parable, perhaps, on friendship and old age, as far is it's comprehensible. Made around the same time, tv's Douglas Fairbanks Presents story The Awakening offers a more accesible free adaptation of Gogol's short story

MURDER ON THE CAMPUS (1962, 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

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

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

ON THE RUN (1968, directed by Pat Jackson, Marylebone Studios, 4*)- This Children's Film Foundation is about three children, "la-di-dah" Ben who helps Prince Thomas Okapi, and the cockney Lil, who ought to be in a home, don't ask which sort. We can tell that Thomas' Uncle Joseph is a wrong 'un, as he has a nasty scar on his face: He's out to kidnap his nephew, but Ben is on to it, and prevents Thomas being doped. Ben hides him in his own flat, but when Uncle traces them there, they move to Lil's. As he can't find them, Uncle appeals to Ben's dad (Gordon Jackson), offering a 500 reward for Ben. But Ben is made of sterner stuff, "I don't know where we go from here." He finds the answer in a removal van that is headed for his old home town of Henstable-on-Sea. The only snag is that Uncle finds this out also. The area looks like Seaford in Sussex. The children make a hideout in a cave in the cliff, where they are trapped by Uncle Joseph. At last Thomas is caught, but Ben has escaped and run all the way to the police station. So on the beach, bad Uncle Joseph is rounded up

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Southall Studios (1924-1958)
Gladstone Road. Two sound stages 125x50ft, 25x50ft. Telephone Southall 3281.

JUST WILLIAM'S LUCK (1948, directed by Val Guest, Southall Studios, 2*)- William's first appearance after seven minutes has been well prepared, but though we get a well defined story line, William and his outlaws are very little like I imagined from the books. Garry Marsh as longsuffering Mr Brown is occasionally entertaining, whilst there is some fun in the brief appearance of "it isn't even a girl, it's Violet Elizabeth." The Nites of the Square Table plan to marry off their elder brothers, Douglas and Henry trying Ethel Brown whilst William approaches an "atomic bombshell" film star (Hy Hazell). To get him a house to live in, the outlaws haunt the old manor house, which just happens to be being used by crooks as a hideout. In a very drawn out wordless sequence, the fur thieves are caught and William is proclaimed a "community hero"

WILLIAM AT THE CIRCUS (1948, directed by Val Guest, Southall Studios, 4*)- The second film with William Graham uses the same formula to start: a glazier, and Muriel Aked as the frustrated maid serving at a grumpy breakfast table. William raises ten shillings to get to London, and at 10 Downing Street breaks in (security officials please watch carefully!) and meets a government treasury official (AE Matthews, a tramp in the last film!), who kindly takes note of William's rambling on the economonic situation. Thus William becomes front page news and letters pour into the Brown home, plus one crate containing a monkey. Though William tries to keep him a secret, there's a lot of chasin and hidin with William ending up in the doghouse. So he returns to the government minister who is visiting Olympia and after more chases round the circus there's one fine moment as AE Matthews sedately drives a dodgem car. Though he's caught, William redeems himself by rescuing the minister's specs, and, with his dad, is guest of honour at the circus. This was an improvement on the earlier william film, with the cast more comfortable in their roles, Garry Marsh in particular is given a more central part, but the over-reliance on silent film-type sequences is obtrusive and William himself never comes near to being the impish rascal of the books

THE TWENTY QUESTIONS MURDER MYSTERY (1949, directed by Paul L Stein, Southall Studios, 4*)- "Nice bit of stuff" Mary (Rona Anderson) is writing about the popular radio series Twenty Questions, whose cast appear in person in this film. Her rival is Bob (Robert Beatty) of The Daily Record. Prompt at 8.30pm we see the broadcast from the Paris Cinema, with one special listener's challenge, Rikitikitavi. The panel guess it, but what is the link between this and the murder of Mr Ricky Tavey? Next week, the panel guess The Hanging Judge, and lo and behold a judge is soon garotted, "I think it's queer, very very queer." Getting too near the truth, Mary is almost the next victim, nearly burnt alive. Killer Strikes Again. The next radio conundrum is Woodcock Jin, and the wrong person is identified as the target! Really it's Mary, "you saw something," and is Bob too late to save her?

CHEER THE BRAVE (1950, directed by Kenneth Hume, Alliance Studios Southall, 1*)- This may have been a comedy once, but surely that fine star Elsie Randolph made a mistake in returning to the big screen in this one. Gossip at the wedding between mild mannered William and widowed Doris. It seems Rose (Vida Hope) still carries a torch for him. And oh yes, as Doris proves a real dragon, it's only a matter of time before he rebels. Even their 'honeymoon,' a day at London Zoo she finds "common," her favourite word. At last the downtrodden one cries, "Doris, shut your face!" when she slams the door on him when he brings home a pup. But despite this he's incredibly patient with her, and her mother and sister who are definitely of the common variety. His only fun, exercising his dog, which Rose has taken in. Finally Rose pops the obvious question, why did you marry her? His chance comes when Fred turns up, Doris' first husband, who had been presumed dead. Neither, to be honest, wants her, "I'm the one that ought to go," in a nice scene that's a sad comment on Doris' character. Bill cleverly leaves Fred in her unloving clutches

THE PAPER GALLOWS (1950, directed by John Guillermin, Southall Studios, 4*) - The eternal triangle with a neat variation: Jim (John Bentley) and Cliff (Dermot Walsh) are both crime writers, sharing the same secretary Joan (Rona Anderson). They make "a pretty unbalanced pair," Cliff's latest novel is to be based on their own lives, is he trying to drive his brother mad? For what has happened to their crime adviser Curly Wilson? It's all down to the fact that Cliff can't have Joan, she is in love with Jim. Cliff taunts his brother and then forms a devious scheme that sends Jim off on a fool's errand to Curly's lodgings, after he has got Joan to write down a suicide note, ostensibly for his novel. This is the prelude to the tensest scene when he locks her in her room, why he doesn't do her in immediately isn't clear. Jim's car has been fixed, and all Cliff has to do is smash in the door that she has barricaded, and murder her. This scene might have been developed, rather than the director opting for the usual shooting showdown. Of course love wins through, though Jim is kind enough to allow Cliff to complete his semi-autobiographical story before calling the police

LAXDALE HALL (1952, directed by John Eldridge, Southall Studios, 5*)- this starts beautifully but doesn't know how to see it through. Bowler hatted MP Pettigrew is appointed to investigate an extraordinary outbreak of "anarchy" in Laxdale, near Skye. The five motorists there, led by The General (Ronald Squire at his most charming) are refusing to pay their road taxes since their road is in such a poor state of repair. The pompous Samuel Pettigrew (Raymond Huntley) takes the mistaken approach of promising to rehouse everyone in a fantastic New Town, and "leave the sinking ship." His suggestion is not well received. Kynaston Reeves as the cleric preaching on the plumb line in Amos chapter seven is fearsome, though over the top in his production of Macbeth. The film offers a lot of nice character studies but which could have been developed much more

YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG TWICE (1952, directed by Terry Bishop, Southall Studios, 4*)- Dated, naive and corny, but with a few pearls of lines in the scriptwriting. Some students, typically looking rather mature, at a Scottish university seem acting on the verge of out of control as they greet their new rector. Heads are turned by new secretary Miss Shaw (Diane Hart) to the principal (Patrick Barr), or to put it more poetically, the place was "like a wet Sunday on Crewe station before you arrived." She's niece of Dan (Joseph Tomelty) who runs a place of "debuachery", The Plough and The Stars. Charles Hawtrey as the unpopular Adolphus, son of the prim even more unpopular clerk Prof Hayman (Duncan Macrae, "two yards of misery") has the best role when he gets drunk at The Plough, gets fresh, and when he comes to, finds himself engaged, "there's a lot of the beast in all of us." After a police raid, the senate, led by Prof Hayman debate this "unruly" affair, while the students meet to plan a protest at "Haywire's" high handed rustication of student Sheltie. It's Adolphus who leads the protest, "this is too much," cries Hayman. Dan is made new rector, "this is an outrage," protests Hayman who resigns and so they all lived....

THE BRAVE DON'T CRY (1952 directed by Philip Leacock, Southall Studios, 3*)- In heavy rain, in a typical coal mining village, tragedy when a tunnel collapses, trapping a hundred miners. Some fine studies of ordinary folk in the crisis, "we're to wait, that's all." Rescue comes, but dangerous gases close the escape route. John Cameron (John Gregson) brings the men this bad news, and averts a riot, "it's our lives we're fighting for." This is a very dour film, even though the rescue is successful

THE FRIGHTENED MAN (1952, directed by John Gilling, Alliance Studios, 5*)- Julius (Dermot Walsh) has been sent down from Oxford, to his doting father's dismay. He's no good, making eyes at a new lodger Amanda (Barbara Murray) luring her with the promise, "I'm going to make money, and I'm going to make it fast." He starts by helping himself to his dad's cash to buy a flash Packard. He works for Alec (Martin Benson) driving a getaway lorry, which he crashes. 10,000 worth of diamonds is the next target for the gang, but a crossed woman is but one flaw, others being a distressed wife and disillusioned dad. "You think I'm a washout," Julius tells Amanda, and he's not far wrong

BRANDY FOR THE PARSON (1952, directed by John Eldridge, Southall Studios, 5*)- Bill and Petronilla's seafaring holiday begins when they crash into "the ruddy boat" of Tony (Kenneth More) who is on a "bit irregular" trip to France. Owing him a favour, they transport him there, pick up his cargo and find themselves unwittingly sucked into his brandy smuggling. English customs officers are on to them, but the trio are always half a jump ahead, hiding the barrels in a creek, where they are joined by downtrodden driver George (Charles Hawtrey). A travelling circus is another refuge- could have made more of this- then "most irregular" the circus' pack horses carry the brandy along the old Roman Road. With the aid of a gallant helpful farmer the brandy is nearly all sold to eager buyers. This is almost Enid Blyton for gentle grown-ups, a meandering mildly amusing and ultimately endearing snapshot of an innocent but just ever so slightly anti-authority post war Britain

TIME GENTLEMEN PLEASE! (1952, directed by Lewis Gilbert, Southall Studios, 3*)- Daniel Dane be the only lazy yokel in a sleepy Essex town. The forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister might about bring "a revolution," but to keep their only unemployed person out of sight, Dan is consigned to an almshouse where 400 year old regulations are still in operation. The problem with the film is that old Dan be a not too likeable tramp, not exactly unlikeable, but perhaps his long beard hides any facial expression he might offer. The changes are rung by a new vicar, who makes Dan suddenly very wealthy. He becomes something of a philanthropist as his character changes. Marjorie Rhodes as a Mata Hari is a sight to behold, and we have the usual fine supporting cast, Sid, Dora et al. A council election brings in the revolution, even a job for the now congenial Dan

MISS ROBIN HOOD (1952, directed by John Guillermin, Southall Studios, 8*)- This fine comedy doesn't quite glow as it ought despite a wonderful cast, maybe it tries to be a black comedy when it's really a children's fantasy. In The Teenager youngsters read the adventures of Miss Robin Hood. Oldest and biggest fan of author Henry Wrigley (Richard Hearne), who has "invented a whole new world for children," is Miss Heather Honey (Margaret Rutherford). She recruits Wrigley to thwart the odious MacAlister (James Robertson Justice), who has stolen her family recipe for whiskey, but she also helps herself to his money, following the principles of robbing the rich to help, at least not the poor, but children. She also helps Wrigley who is sacked from the magazine and replaced by Cyril who introduces an alien intellectual theme into the tale of Miss Robin Hood. But after a mass demo of angry young fans at The Teenager's main office, ("keep your dignity," cries Miss Honey, a dove on her head), Miss Robin Hood is restored to her creator. Sid James and his knitting is just one lovely incongruous touch, as is the police raid on Miss Honey's Hampstead paradise for children. Among those youngsters are Susanne Gibbs and Lesley Dudley, but someone who worked on the film ought to compile a list of all the names

THE FAKE (1953, directed by Godfrey Grayson, Southall Studios, 3*)- It's only thanks to security agent Paul Mitchell (Dennis O'Keefe) that the priceless Leonardo Madonna and Child in transit to the Tate Gallery is not nicked at the docks. He suspects painter Henry Mason (John Laurie) of painting forgeries of Leonardo's work, which have been substituted for the real article in several galleries. Despite the security, the Leonardo is removed from the Tate, replaced with a good fake. "For a detective, you're not very smart," the reason being he's fallen for Mary, pretty daughter of said painter. "He's a fool." It's a good storyline but the central characters are wooden, except of course for Mr Laurie. So we never really care who is the master thief, or even that he intends to dispose of Mary

DOUBLE EXPOSURE (1954, directed by John Gilling, Southall Studios, 6*) John Bentley plays his usual role in a raincoat, which he rarely takes off, this time Peter Fleming, private eye working for Garry Marsh. The two of them offer a smattering of nice humour together, and Bentley plays deadpan a familiar scene of sleeping in the bath- without his mac. He is after the killer of a female company director, en route picking up Barbara (Rona Anderson) who unknowingly has taken a photo containing vital evidence. She is used as bait to trap the murderer

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

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!

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

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

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

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!"

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"

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"

THE SUPREME SECRET (1958, directed by Norman Walker, Southall Studios, 3*) - Cockney kids in Liverpool slightly mar a fair drama of Mike who dreams of getting away from his life with sister Tess (Suzan Farmer) and emigrating to Canada. He gets mixed up with the crooked gang of Bluey (Harry Fowler), who are on "a big job," nicking 20 pounds from newsagent Kesson (Meredith Edwards). Police nearly catch them, and frightened, Mike runs off and takes shelter in a mission run by the vicar (Hugh David). Here he listens to Mr Kesson's testimony, but decides he is "crackers." Another job is robbing a wagon but police catch them this time. But a constable is shot. Mike goes into hiding, scared. He tries to pray and tells Tess, "there might be something in it." At the mission he feels "safe," for here, as the vicar tells him, "you've found the Father." He walks to the police station to turn himself in

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."

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Beaconsfield Studios (1922-1970)
Station Road. 1 sound stage. Telephone Beaconsfield 1371, later 1563-5.
In 1963: Executive Producers: Julian Wintle and Leslie Parkyn. Publicity Director: John Southwood.

SPORTING LOVE (1936 Beaconsfield Studios directed by J Elder Wills, 3*)- Billed as a 'Hammer Film' the horror here is that the surviving copy has been badly hacked about. So final judgement is a little difficult to provide. What I can say is that some excellent comic support is forthcoming from, as usual, Laddie Cliff, with the addition of Bobby Comber. Musical numbers include a tap dance by Laddie and Stanley. They also sing In the Springtime. Near the end there's a medley of songs commencing with the Victorian After the Ball is Over; then briefly, Stanley reprises his I Lift up My Finger and Laddie his Coal Black Mammy before the chorus render The Derby. And the plot: bankruptcy faces the Brace family, Peter (LC) and Percy "the Prince of Mugs" (SL). That is, unless Aunty Fanny can be persuaded that the brothers are both married. Unless wives can be produced she "won't sign any cheque." Attempts are made, unsuccessfully you can guess, so the only hope seems to lie in Moonbeam who is to run in the Derby. But Moonbeam is impounded until bills are paid. Finally aunty stumps up the money and there's a race, not on Epsom Downs, but to the bank as Percy gets her cheque cashed. The cash goes awol so Moonbeam is scratched. However a bet on a hot tip, the outsider Cold End could put everything to rights, but since Percy forgets the name and bets on Winterbottom will he lose his shirt? Perhaps the best scene is when Percy removes the "sliding roof" (ie toupee) to expose the baldness of his 'wife's' real fiance

THE CHINESE BUNGALOW (1940 version, directed by George King Beaconsfield Studios 3*) - Chinese Millionaire Marries English Showgirl, read the headlines. Sadie (Kay Walsh) takes up residence in his up-river bungalow, full of ancient treasures: "I know I'm going to be happy," she declares. But loneliness drives her into the arms of the nearest white man, Harold. "I could never hurt you, "her suspicious husband warns her, "unless you deserve it." He starts to prefer Sadie's sister Charlotte (Jane Baxter): "you'll never get her," an embittered Sadie tells her husband. The ending is typical of George King's melodramatic style, using the old poisoned chalice routine

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

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

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!

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!

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 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."

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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?

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?

HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1961, directed by Vernon Sewell, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)- Orchard Cottage in Devon for sale at a bargain price. "A big snag we don't know about," is perhaps a ghost. A lady (Jane Hylton) tells the story of late electrical engineer Mark Lemming whose wife Stella disappeared along with their lodger Clive. The house had been purchased by newlyweds Harry (Maurice Kaufmann) and June (Nanette Newman) who see Mark's ghost. "Really shaken," they call in a ghost hunter (the enthusiastic Colin Gordon), who arranges a seance, "how awful." The film winds down to more of a crime thriller than a horror tale. "You can't frighten me," but the director has a fair stab at it

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

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

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Islington Studios
The home of Gainsborough Pictures, opened after the first war, finally closing in 1949.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS (1935 Islington Studios, directed by Tom Walls, 5*)- To me, Tom Walls became a little too indulgent when he was directing as well as starring. Compensation in this Ben Travers comedy is the omnipresent Ralph Lynn as Jefferson, one of two relations competing for an aunt's inheritance. As the other is "henpecked" Robertson Hare, there's plenty of enjoyment. When Jefferson loses his last franc to the Captain (Walls) and they try to make ends meet, they somehow end up in court charged with faking jewellery. The delicious Martita Hunt has one uncredited scene as wife of the immortal Basil Radford

WHERE THERE'S A WILL (1936, directed by William Beaudine, Islington Studios, 4*) - Incompetent solicitor Benjamin Stubbins disgraces himself by getting plastered, but redeems himself when three American crooks trick "the mug" into using his office- to gain a quick way into the adjacent bank, "boy, does thay guy slay me!" Will Hay carries the film through its many weak moments, and the dry ones when he is off screen, but the script deficiencies are hard to hide, and the supporting cast disappointing, especially in the tiny part allocated to Graham Moffat. Even the music is stock material, I noticed one scene that utilised the song Where There's You from Jack Hulbert's Jack of All Trades. Suspected of the robbery, Stubbins bumbles out of trouble at a Christmas Party dressed as Santa Claus

GOOD MORNING BOYS (1937, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studios, 6*)- Will Hay plays Dr Benjamin Twist, his stock bumbling schoolmaster, "I know what I'm doing." A new governor rightfully has grave doubts, though Lady Bogshott (Martita Hunt) has every faith in him. To priove his competence he must enter pupils for an exam, which after a lot of dubious practices results in 100% marks, earning a trip to Paris. In the party is one Arty Jones, looking even older than the other schoolboys, he's an art thief who steals the Mona Lisa. The pace slows in the night club scene which resorts to slapstick. but though Twist is found with the stolen picture, somehow his boys see him through, "gosh you are in a mess"

OH MR PORTER (1937, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studios, 8*) - Remote Buggleskelly is where incompetent stationmaster Porter is sent, the sixth to hold this office in the past year. Though the gun running plot is central, all the fun is at the crumbling station with ancient deputy stationmaster Moore Marriott and Albert the boy portrayed by Graham Moffatt, who "plays with the pixies." Not forgetting Gladstone the 1854 locomotive. They make a fine team, never finer than here, where no self respecting train dare stop. The climax is the train for Buggleskelly Wednesday, a wild finish with the gunrunners to a juddering crash at the terminus

CONVICT 99 (1938, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studios, 4*)-despite Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt's support, this is not one of Will Hay's better films. He is Dr Benjamin Twist, sacked headmaster, who is appointed in error as a prison governor. He is mistaken for an inmate, but eventually escapes with Jerry the Mole, "crazy as a coot." After "the ghastly blunder" has been rectified, he institutes a thoroughly liberal regime, funded by a football pools winning, and shrewd investments in the stock market. By the time we reach a party with lots of girls, the charade has worn too thin. However a forged cheque leads to near disaster, solved by breaking into his bank to restore the prisoners' funds IN to that institution. A final farce sees the prisoners dressed as policemen pursued by real policemen

I THANK YOU (1941, directed by Marcel Varnel, Islington Studio, 4*)- Askey and Murdoch go into service as husband and wife, but only to find a backer of their show. Moore Marriott and Graham Chapman offer some support with a healthy dollop of slapstick with things like wet paint. Of course in the end, the show must go on, somehow. Lily Morris sings Waiting at the Church, while the opening song Up With The Lark offers a breezy start which is sadly not maintained

BACK ROOM BOY (1942, directed by Herbert Mason, Islington Studios, 5*)- An uncredited Philip Friend introduces a man performnig a vital function at the BBC, making sure the pips are pressed on time. After he gets the pip, he is transferred to a lonely Scottish lighthouse where "they all go mad." Here are all the traditional ghostly happenings, but it's endearingly done with Arthur finding a cheeky foil in young Jane (Vera Frances). Perhaps it's Arthur's dialogue with his lonely self that makes the charm, until that is the place is overrun with women, and enlivened by Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt. The mystery of the disappearing guests is all to do with the war in a protracted flag waving ending. The running Scottish gag, Och Aye, I liked, plus this snippet of dialogue:
Moore Marriott: "I remember this lighthouse when I was a boy."
Arthur: "Did they have lighthouses then?"

TAWNY PIPIT (1944, directed by Bernard Miles, Gainsborough Studios, 5*)- "proper goings on" in an idyllic village, where a rare bird has been spotted. The locals, headed by the colonel (Bernard Miles) set out in typical British fashion, to see that the nest of their visitors jolly well receives "fair play." Unscrupulous twitchers are not the only enemies, the army want the area for manoeuvres, and a farmer wants to plough up his land, don't you know. Keep off this slice of British life, and even though the plot be thin, a charm of characterisation allows you to forgive much

HELTER SKELTER (1949, directed by Ralph Thomas, Gainsborough Studios, 7*) - A film that grows on you, about Miss Susan Graham who has a plethora of admirers, and an antipathy for radio hero Nick Martin (David Tomlinson), who in real life is but a mother's boy. This zany film attempts plenty of cinematic novelties, not always successfully, following Susan's attempts to get cured of hiccups. These include haunting by a ghost (Richard Hearne) and consulting a mad psychiatrist (Jimmy Edwards). Such a storyline makes for a mighty thin plot, so pastiches are added, one with King Charles II and a maid, another a silent film chase, plus Terry "Toothbury" Thomas on the radio, singing along to records. There are also surprise stills from contemporary films. Here's some pre-Goon humour which would go down well today, with a host of familiar British faces bringing on the laughs. But for unknown Carol Marsh with the malady, this was her finest hour. Perhaps hiccups don't make for stardom

DON'T EVER LEAVE ME (1949, directed by Arthur Crabtree, Gainsborough Studios, 6*)- Old lag Harry (Edward Rigby) attempts one big job, the kidnap of 15 year old Sheila (Petula Clark), daughter of stage star Michael Farlaine. Too late, Harry realises the job is not for him, but she shocks him by saying she actually wants to be kidnapped. Craving some excitement, she makes him take her to his home, the flat of his grandson Jack (Jimmy Hanley). A promising premise that conjures some happy moments as Sheila phones her dad to demand 2,000 ransom, and as she forces Jack to take her out on the town for some excitement. The police can't find her because she's altered her appearance, because her father sees the kidnap as a chance to get much needed publicity, and because neighbour Jimmy (Anthony Newley) has wildly misled police in his description of the desperate gang. "She must be giving them absolute torture," though she's having a "super duper" time herself. But how does Jimmy explain her away to his girl Joan? Pleasant characters they are, though without much bite to the comedy, at least until Jimmy decides to be kidnapped also, "did your father ever slap your head, I hope?" Sheila's stage managed reappearance ensures a "super" ending

A BOY A GIRL AND A BIKE (1949, dir Ralph Smart, Gainsborough Studios, 5*) - T' grand an' healthy outdoor cycling life, men in short trousers, vying over Diana Dors and Honor Blackman. Aye, in't North, wi' Yorksheer accents, aye home life is claustrophobic, a stifle to romance. Honor's pursued by Patrick Holt, but there's a rival in posh John McCallum. As for Diana, playing the improbably named Ada, is she part of the eternal triangle? Another storyline involves Anthony Newley who steals a bike to pay off his gambling debts. There's a lot of trouble at mill sorting out problems, the climax the Whit Monday cycle race, Wakeford Warriors need t' reserve to win t' race through t' cobbled streets, up hill and down dale, "hey, what's t' hurry?" That was actual dialogue, but at least t' romance doesn't quite end as ye meet expect

IT'S NOT CRICKET (1949, directed by Roy Rich/ Alfred Roome, Gainsborough Studios, 5*)- Major Bright and Captain Early (Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne) somehow have been enlisted in the Intelligence Corps. Their failure to capture Otto Fisch (Maurice Denham- too over the top) results in their bowler hatting, so they set up a detective agency. Their first long awaited client is actress Virginia Briscoe, who's lost her dog in the theatre, where they inevitably ruin her performance in the chase. The Rothstein Diamond has been hidden in a cricket ball which is to be used at a country house weekend. After the usual nighttime frolics, "probably burglars," Bright and Early distinguish themselves on the field of play, and also recover the diamond

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Brighton Studios
37 Nicholas Road Brighton (phone 24477, later 29935/8).
Opened about 1948, closed 1966.

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

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 GELIGNITE GANG (1956 directed by Francis Searle, Brighton Studios. 4*)- 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.

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

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

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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Gate Studios
Originally the Whitehill Studios, latterly owned by the Rank Organisation, situated in filmland at Elstree (phone 2080). Two sound stages were available. It opened in 1928 and closed in 1954 after the last film, John Wesley,see below, was completed.

LILLI MARLENE (1950 directed byArthur Crabtree, Gate Studios Elstree, 2*)- American journalist Steve (Hugh McDermott) and his British mates volunteer to capture a Nazi who has come to North Africa to gain a propaganda victory by using the pinup girl who inspired the song Lilli Marlene. Unfortunately this Nazi reminded me too much of Frank Randle, and Lisa Daniely in the title role, though appealing, is no pinup and terribly exaggerates her face in singing the famous song. She becomes a tug of war twixt the Allies and the Nazis, who almost succeed in snatching her during an overlong ENSA concert. So Steve moves her to the relative safety of Cairo, romance follows, before she is captured by the enemy, tortured, brainwashed` and made to broadcast Nazi propaganda, to the dismay of Steve and his buddies, "the end of a dream." In a final scene, after the war, Lilli is vindicated though it stretches ones credulity more than a little

WOMEN OF TWILIGHT (1952, directed by Gordon Parry, Gate Studios Boreham Wood, 5*)- After no-good Jerry is convicted of murder, his pregnant girlfriend Vivianne (Rene Ray) finds herself homeless until she takes refuge in a home for unmarried mothers. "Most of us had something better once." Presiding over it is Mrs Allistair, a typical role for Freda Jackson. At first she appears motivated by kindness, but her veneer soon fades. All the characters are well drawn, particularly Vida Hope as Jess, Allistair's loyal helper, and Christine (Lois Maxwell) who befriends Viv. Dora Bryan is there too, naturally. This is soap opera, dreary but well observed. The main drama is Chris' baby dying, strangely understated. But the death hides a grizzlier tale as the matriarch's empire thankfully crumbles

STREET CORNER (1953, directed by Muriel Box, Gate Studios Elstree, 5*)- What starts as a semi documentary portrait of London's policewomen ends with a less satisfactory focus on the flighty Bridget (Peggy Cummins) who falls in with a jewel thief and general all round bad egg (Terence Morgan). The mistake the film makes is that although the sub plots are well done, the original focus on women's police work is almost lost and we get no deep character studies of them. The policemen seem mere also rans, though I liked the final chase in which no human catches the thief, but a dog. The best of several good scenes is early on, when an innocent but neglected baby is rescued from a narrow ledge atop an old block of flats. And there are plenty of small character roles to please, mostly female and typecast, such as Thora Hird as a nagging mother, Marjorie Rhodes as the brusque landlady, Joyce Carey as a nervous lady being stalked, and Dora Bryan (who else?), "if I have to be pinched, I want to be pinched by a man"

INNOCENTS IN PARIS (1953, directed by Gordon Parry, Gate Studios, 3*)- A disparate collection of passengers on a weekend flight to Paris include: Ronald Shiner as a Cockney bandsman, Alastair Sim as a cold politician, Jimmy Edwards as a know-all English gent, a kilted Scotsman- cue numerous jokes, Claire Bloom as an English Rose picked up by an older Frenchman, all very naive and only faintly believable, plus one old dear of an artist, played by Margaret Rutherford. A host of smaller parts include uncredited Christoper Lee, Kenneth Williams and Sam Kydd. Frankly, most of the montage is wearingly dull, but with a certain, yes innocent charm, with pleasant moments such as Sim plied with vodka. But it's all too obvious, a waste of many talents

JOHN WESLEY (1953, directed by Norman Walker, Gate Studios Elstree, 4*)- The young boy's early experience is dominated by a fire at his home, Epworth vicarage, as he's rescued from the flames like "a brand plucked from the burning." This rather episodic but well written picture of the "idealist" (Leonard Sachs) is never very profound, but shows how Wesley finds a real personal faith when talking earnestly with a condemned criminal (John Slater), confirmed as he listens in Aldersgate to a Luther sermon. "The enthusiast" gathers to him the "riff raff," to the horror of the established church, and in Bristol begins open air preaching and, with his brother Charles' hymns, opens the first Meeting House. Despite opposition, for example in Bath from Beau Nash (Philip Leaver), soon the first building is opened in London, one follower (Patrick Holt) being the first unlicensed preacher. Soon all over the country there is "a new hope, the joy of knowing God," bringing the Good News "into the hearts and homes of ordinary folk." Very dated now, but sadly that is the spirit of our age. John Wesley concludes happily, "how the tide has turned!" An ironic comment today!

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