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.
FATHER STEPS OUT (1937, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 2*) - Veteran music hall turn George Carney plays Joe, a down-to-earth northerner who owns a happy family-run cheese factory. His daughter Helen (Dinah Sheridan) is just back from her posh finishing school, now "a real lady." Her new boy friend Philip (David Langton, here as Basil Langton) invites her and her parents to his mansion, where it should be a case of "when in Rome do as the Romanians do." But this comedy of manners gets subsumed by a plot to swindle Joe as Philip tricks Helen into eloping. Luckily Jim's chauffeur, Helen's old pal Johnny (Bruce Seton), cures her of her "swollen head" whilst the penniless Joe fortuitously regains his fortune by investing in an old wreck. Quote of the film from Joe: "what's the good of dignty- it only costs money to keep it up
MERELY MR HAWKINS (1938, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)-
This film has a bright start, with a nice leading role for Eliot Makeham as a downtrodden bank clerk. Both he and his daughter Betty (Dinah Sheridan) are "under the thumbs" of the formidable Mrs Hawkins (Sybil Grove). But their lot improves when Betty inherits £5,000, but unfortunately the film doesn't make the most of this promising start. Instead we rather get bogged down in a long sketch at the village bazaar, and later at the local amateur dramatics. Betty has a boy friend, shy Richard (Jonathan Field), who "needs bringing up to scratch," but she is now pursued by wealthy John Fuller who has just deposited $250,000 worth of bonds in the bank. Betty does flirt with him, but it's only to try and arouse Richard's jealousy. Of course, though Mrs H decides his money must be worth Betty's hand, Mr H is at last able to get the better of her when he shows Fuller up to be "a wrong 'un"
I'LL TURN TO YOU
(1946, directed by Geoffrey Faithfull, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)
- The familiar theme of adjusting to life after the war is sandwiched at start and end by long musical extracts. The theme song is sung twice, once by John McHugh, and played by Albert Sandler on his violin. The other songs are That Depends on Me, and a version of Liebestraume. only a shame that ageing singer Harry Welchman has been put out to pasture as grandad, and doesn't oblige.
RAF pilot Roger Meredith (Don Stannard) returns to the dump of a flat that his wife Aileen (Terry Randal) has rented, to find her with former admirer Henry, who "has done everything for me." But it's all platonic on her side, and Roger settles in, though his old job at an advertising agency he finds hard to settle to, "Mr Meredith, you've got a lot to learn."
Things come to a head at Henry's party where Roger gets drunk and rows with Aileen, but then almost patches it up, "it's all my fault darling." This realisation, the failure of his job and renewed suspicions about Henry cause him to disappear, "I'm baling out." Working as a hotel porter, he happens to meet Henry staying as a guest and everything cleared up, Henry offers him a job. But when Roger returns home, his wife is out!
There's relief from all the gloom in the sub plot of the landlady (Irene Handl) and her romance with her milkman, "oo you are a clumsy gump." Several tedious songs later, too many songs that stifle the climax, husband and wife make up
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
THE HILLS OF DONEGAL (1947, directed by John Argyle, Nettlefold Studios, 1*)-
Singer Eileen has given up her career to marry Terry, who seems to us rather a smooth rogue, unlike his cousin Michael, Eileen's former leading man. This film introduced the fine pairing of Dinah Sheridan and John bBentley, though they're not exactly comfortable here, and Eileen's miming is hardly impressive. Further the director seems uncertain of his mix of classical music, Irish folk numbers and gypsy airs.
Our couple move into an Irish hillside mansion "not fit for man or beast." Buried treasure is hidden somewhere inside it, and what's the mystery of Eileen's late parents whom she hardly knew? There are altogether too many strands to make a satisfying whole. Then there are Moore Marriott and Irene Handl to add a spot of comedy, young Paddy to add some squirming sentimentality and Carole, Michael's new leading lady to blackmail Terry, who descending to drink kills her, goes beserk. Sure, 'tis melodrama as the treasure is found, Eileen's past revealed and two deaths ensure a happy conclusion
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!'"
THE GIRL WHO COULDN'T QUITE (1949, directed by Norman Lee, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)-
Miss Ruth (Elizabeth Henson) never laughs. It makes her upper crust life miserable, and she has an "impossible" attitude to her family. Ten years on she might have been called a rebel teenager, as it is, she upsets the cosy
domesticity of a house otherwise bathed in the glow of the post war era. But at last she smiles, it's the sight of a man, Tim (Bill Owen), a tramp. After much hesitation on both sides, he is invited to stay, and he teaches her about giving,
and everyone else, rich and poor learn the same lesson, though it's to the discomfort of granny and of cook, "me smalls 'ave gone!"
The light mood becomes darker when Tim helps her overcome her subconscious fears- a quite credible story now but out of character with the first half of the film.
She loses her memory, and only gradually recovers it but has excluded Tim from her mind, so it is a rather mournful if also drawn out last reel
OLD MOTHER RILEY HEADMISTRESS (1950, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- "Out of the ark," Mrs Daphne Snowdrop Riley is a taste you either love or don't. In this film she is sacked from a laundry, so how come she's in charge of St Mildred's School for Young Ladies? Well, Kitty has been sacked from the academy, so mother buys the place, using the money she has acquired from her laundry. Incongruous, but nothing more so, than Old Mother playing a piano in motion, or taking a PT lesson (Physical Torture), in which you're never sure if she's the teacher or a pupil. Then there's her running in an egg and spoon race on Speech Day. Don't ask how, burglars bring out the fire brigade, the police and seem to set the country on a war footing, before it all ends happily of course.
Perhaps the corniest of the corn was this: Lawyer- Sic transit gloria mundi. Mother Riley- I'm sorry you were sick last Monday
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
TAKE ME TO PARIS (1950, directed by Jack Raymond, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)-
Jockey Albert (Albert Modley) loves his Thunderhead, a horse which is now "practically a joke." But he's entered for a race in France because Gerald (Bruce Seton) needs to go to Paris to sell his forged fivers. So Albert has the chance to "see life," and he does in the shape of the oddly drooling Annette. A fire engine scares Thunderhead who gallops off "like lightning." There's a lot of chasing after the horse and Albert who end up reet at t'top of Eiffel Tower, only Albert of course. But this film never offers Formby fun, or Frank Randle goonery. Thunderhead wins t'race of course, wi' the aid of a strategically placed fire engine, and Albert wins la belle Annette, with a final snog, "kissing in England is still in its infancy!"
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"
MISTER DRAKE'S DUCK (1951, directed by Val Guest, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)-
Donald Drake and his new bride Penny move in to Green Acres Farm for the idyllic rural life, until the scatty wife accidentally buys five dozen ducks at an auction. The mild fun develops into a more zany genre when one of the ducks is found to lay uranium eggs, "most extraordinary." The army commandeer the farm, "the world's gone mad," more so when the navy and air force move in. There are mild pokes at post war red tape, and the momentum almost turns to a disappointing world fantasy, as you feel the team were getting bored with the ducks, failing to exploit the comedy to the full. However there is compensation in the supporting cast, especially Jon Pertwee as the irascible Reuben, Peter Butterworth as the odd job man, and Reginald Beckwith as the bank manager
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?
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
THE MADAME GAMBLES (1951, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- A costumier bets her shop on a horse, and loses. Trout (Garry Marsh) the crooked bookie, hides out in the shop from his enemies. In charge here is Mr Pastry whose new three-in-one creation ("is that good?") is the frail reed on which the shop might stave off bankruptcy. After attempting to turn the place into a "gaudy bawdy" boutique, Trout sacks Mr Pastry. The problem is that the film attempts to fit Richard Hearne's character into an existing farce but though we get a lot of his mannerisms there's little slapstick until the end. He has one fine scene where he pretends to be insane and after the usual chase there's a dull protracted sequence with Honest Pastry the Bookie, only helped by Petula Clark who adds some charm to proceedings. In the end it's "Mr Pastry, you're wodnerful," as he wins back the shop finishing with the nice line, "Trout, you lout, you're out!"
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
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
SONG OF PARIS (1952 Nettlefold Studios directed by John Guillermin. 2*)- This isn't quite a comedy or a musical or even a romance. Mischa Auer overacts as so often, but Dennis Price lends his usual dignified charm as the most English of Englishmen facing French high spirits. To sort out a crisis in the Stomach Pills industry, Matthew has to travel to that "sink of inquity," Paris. "But in that sink," he's told, "there are some smashing pieces of crockery" including one Clementine. When she follows him to England along with her self declared fiance, the Count, everyone's lives are in turmoil. Finally it's pistols at dawn, but Matthew will surely be killed. "Do you want his life and his body delivered at your doorstep then, before even the milkman has called?" In amongst the story are four songs: Chanson de Paris, Just a Song of Paris, Mademoiselle Apres-Midi and Let's Stay Home
IS YOUR HONEYMOON REALLY NECESSARY (1952, directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 6*)-
Wartime ace Laurie 'Skip' Vining (Bonar Colleano) is back in Britain on honeymoon with Gillian (Diana Decker) in a "luxury joint," 63 Grosvenor Square. But his first wife Candy (Diana Dors) turns up and it's up to him and his buddy Hank (Sid James) to keep 'em apart. Get a lawyer, but surely not the gauche Frank (David Tomlinson), "rather awkward isn't it?"
Here's a farce with plenty of door juggling, the best moments between DT the reluctant lover and DD allegedly his wife. Perhaps Sid in the lead role would have made a more accomplished comedy, but there are some nice lines, such as "Two wives on one honeymoon?" "One should be ample"
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
GLAD TIDINGS (1952 directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)- "The finest golf course in the country" faces losing its 13th to airport expansion- quite a modern theme! Here's a project for retired Colonel Tom who's just returned home with his fiancee (Barbara Kelly). But his four children's fraternisation with the RAF undermines his position. Sadly, what begins as a promising comedy in the hands of such experts as Raymond Huntley and Terence Alexander descends to soap opera.
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
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, loo long. Some compensation comes from some lively cameos, including Thora Hird and Vida Hope
GIRDLE OF GOLD (1952, directed by Montgomery Tully, Nettlefold Studios, 3*)-
Unassuming film, needing tighter editing in the outdoor scenes. We're in Wales, allegedly. Griffiths the Undertaker keeps his secret nest egg sewn into his wife's corset. It's his bad luck she runs off with Evans the Milk. Griffiths chases after, and disrobes her, discretely in the bushes. The cash has gone. A too long court case can't establish if Evans has stolen the money, there are a plethora of obvious underwear jokes. Mrs G, in honour of the occasion, had bought a new corset, so who has her old one? Mary is in London on honeymoon with Dai, Evans rushes there first and buys the garment for £20. After unseemly scenes, but no cash, the search moves back to Wales where one of the church choir, currently at practice, apparently bought the corset. Another obvious scene, nicely understated, and it all ends in smiles
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
OLD MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE (1953, directed by John Gilling, Nettlefold Studios, 6*)- Without Mother Riley's usual stooge, this film's better for that, with Dora Bryan a fine comic foil, it creaks and pleases with its sometimes nonsensical eccentricity. A mad scientist is suspected of abducting girls, who's next? "He drinks their blood" and sleeps in a coffin, of course it's Bela Lugosi who nicely hams it up. His latest Frankenstein robot is accidentally delivered to Old Mother Riley, "have I gone mad?" Lugosi asks. The old woman is kidnapped and fed plenty of liver- for elevenses, "I don't get it." But singlehandedly she rescues a maiden in distress, and grapples with the robot
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
THERE WAS A YOUNG LADY (1953, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Nettlefold Studios, 9*)- Miss Elizabeth Foster (Dulcie Gray) is "for the moment just my secretary," according to Mr David Walsh (Michael Denison), but it is she who runs what little jewellery business comes their way. Whatever else, she is efficent. When she is kidnapped by four duff jewel robbers, she takes them in hand: Johnny (Sydney Tafler) the irascible boss, while the most aimiable is the dim Arthur. Him she softens up, and Basher and Joe and sets about reorganising their muddled lives, even pointing out the doubtful aspects of their next planned robbery. Here's a charming piece of dated whimsy, not sparkling but endearing, as at last the helpless David proves his mettle, and comes to her rescue.
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
IMPULSE (1954 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Charles du Latour - probably in reality Cy Enfield, 5*)- Is Sussex estate agent Alan Curtis in a rut? Not when he picks up a stranded (female of course) motorist, Lila (Constance Smith), who's being chased by two men, policemen apparently. They want her in connection with her brother Barry who has stolen some jewellery, she says. Alan's "good deed for today" is giving her a lift to her London nightclub, but that's only for starters. Harry (once called Barry) isn't quite what she's claimed and he's not the only one. A typical trait of Baker and Berman films, though here the plot is quite easy to follow. Yes, even poor Alan can realise the police now want him for murder! American guest star is Arthur Kennedy who plays it out with a deadpan disinterest, though his ambivalent character is quite complex for a Tempean film
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
ASSIGNMENT REDHEAD (1956, directed by Maclean Rogers, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)-
Special Flight 402 has landed in London from Berlin, bringing Alexis Scammell, but he's an imposter.
Major Keen (Richard Denning) has to track down him and the other four passengers, some are bumped off and then a "red headed Delilah" sidetracks this "man on a mission" so that nothing "makes any sense," even one of the characters admitting they don't know what's going on.
So what chance have we? "You're being fooled up to the limit," Keen is warned, as he finally sees thru his phoney romance and uncovers twelve million forged dollars
ROOM IN THE HOUSE (1955, directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)
- Marjorie Rhodes gets a starring role as lonely Betsy, who leaves her happy home to stay with her rich son David. "From now on everything will be done for you." What with their adminstering her tonics, supper in bed, tucked in at 8.30, she determines to live instead with her son Jack. Here she is able to live a much more active existence, especially as Jack's wife Mary is a hypochondriac. But Betsy puts her foot in it, wisely advising her granddaughter Chris to go, horror of horrors, up North to join her sweetheart Brian. With parting words of wisdom, she departs for her son Hugh. He's a reverend, very busy, and about to go to America on a pulpit exchange. How can he tell her she cannot go? In a sad scene she finds out and returns to home and Mrs Potter (Edie Martin). "I've been a foolish old woman," she tells Benji (Leslie Dwyer), but it's a happy return to her former house, "there's no place like home"
MISS TULIP STAYS THE NIGHT
(1955, directed by Leslie Arliss, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)-
Crime writer Andrew Dax (Patrick Holt) settles with his wife Kate (Diana Dors) in Wood Cottage. Their wedded bliss is interrupted by a stranger, the eccentric Miss Millicent Tulip, who claims she is being blackmailed. "Do you think she's mad?" Whatever else, she is also dead next morning, shot dead. Investigating is PC Feathers (Jack Hulbert), who is a little slow on the uptake, and Inspector Thorn, "without one grain of commonsense." It needs Andrew and even Kate to help the "halfwit" solve this crime, in a film that is half comedy, quarter mystery and a bit of a detective story. Perhaps it is too "ridiculous," but the stars do their best and on the way enjoy a few happy moments, as "the brilliant amateur solves the mystery that baffled the police"
KEEP IT CLEAN (1955 Nettlefold Studios, directed by David Paltenghi)- A rambling muddled, but pleasantly muddled, film about advertising executive Bert Lane (Ronald Shiner), who's attempting to persude Mrs Anstey of the Women's Purity League to promote The Demon, a wonder machine that "cleans everything." To impress her, Bert has to send her the cast-offs of stripper Colette of the Follies and then rescue her in court when she's accused of interrupting the Follies' lewd proceedings, and finally he has to persuade a window cleaner who falls into her bath not to sue! For no good reason, there is then a frantic chase all over the theatre. James Hayter as Bert's boss provides a good foil even if he is over the top, but Jean Cadell as prim Mrs Anstey steals the show.
THE 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
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...
WHERE THERE'S A WILL (1955, directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- This endearing film starts with a marvellous evocation of rural England, I always felt it must be Devon. Bob Sharples' wistful score accompanies three Cockneys who have inherited Windrush Farm,. There's Alfie (Leslie Dwyer's best role) who falls for this "communing with nature," while wide boy Fred (George Cole) and Maud (Dandy Nichols) are all for selling "the dump." And Stokes is offering £2,000 but Alfie won't hear of such a thing, and Maud's daughter June rather turns the head of young Ralph Stokes (Edward Woodward). But Alfie can't raise enough cash to buy the farm himself, not unless Annie (Kathleen Harrison), who served the old master, can lend it him, and that comes with strings, ie her. As Annie says, they talk an awful lot, as the plot gets a little bogged down in the farm mud, but there's a happy contrived ending that brings tears to y
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
A TOUCH OF THE SUN (1956, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold, 4*)- "Darling, you're a marvel"- that's Bill Darling (Frankie Howerd) a hotel porter, loved by one and all since he is so helpful. One grateful guest bequeaths him £10,000 and naturally he wants to quit, but his contract forbids this, so he has to become "dispensible," in a sequence that could have been developed further to advantage. Now he can laze on the Riviera, but the high life is not for him, in a sequence too long and tedious. Returning to London, he buys his old hotel, but needing to improve the place, he has to woo three investors, a well exploited finish with Frankie as The Duchess wooing one "inflamed" backer. Question- which is the naff actress?
A TOUCH OF THE SUN (1956, directed by Gordon Parry, Nettlefold, 4*)- William Darling (Frankie Howerd) is "a perfect darling" of a hotel receptionist, and one guest is so grateful she bequeaths him £10,000. As his contract forbids him to resign, in the best scenes, which could have been expanded, he annoys all the guests by awaking them at 5am. He lives it up in the South of France, but it only makes him miserable, which is reflected in several miserable sketches. So he returns to London to buy his old hotel, which he runs with girl friend Rose, played by Dorothy Bromiley, who produces some inadvertent comedy with her feeble acting. But Howerd rides it all, and dons several characters, in order to impress potential backers of his business, and does one unlikely tango with prim Reginald Beckwith
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
CLOAK WITHOUT DAGGER (1957 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Joseph Sterling, 3*)- Philip Friend was always an ideal B film suave lead- here he's Felix alias Enrico, a waiter in a London hotel. Once a major in the war catching spies, he's now finally about to track down his quarry who eluded him ten years ago. Now, as then, his ex-girl Kyra gets in the way! When she stumbles over a corpse which later is seen alive she realises "something phoney going on here." She breaks into a top secret nuclear base to thwart the spy before learning, what we all guessed, that Felix is going to catch him anyway. Leslie Dwyer as a detective gets the last laugh, literally
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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