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

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


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This month I am adding some 1957 British films:
AFTER THE BALL (1957, directed by Compton Bennett, Beaconsfield Studios, 6*)- Though this is a typical show biz story, it's about the greatest male impersonator, Vesta Tilley. Pat Kirkwood plays her competently, gradually growing into the part, lacking that extra sparkle to be truly memorable. However it's Tilley's songs that make the film, including the title number, as well as Algy, Sidney's Holidays, Following Father's Footsteps, The Army of Today's All Right, and Jolly Good Luck to the Girl Who Loves a Sailor. Her love affair with Walter de Frece is the centrepiece. Of course the pinnacle of her success has to be in America, though perhaps her efforts in the war effort were her finest
THE GOOD COMPANIONS (1957, directed by J Lee Thompson, AB Elstree Studios, 4*)- The original Dinky Doos with their "old fashioned routines" are bankrupt. But they carry on, in this affectionate tribute to the lost world of rep. In the graveyard that is Trewborough they finally hit rock bottom, but somehow persuade a top London producer to view their spectacle. The story gets sidetracked here with an improbable riot, and the stardom of young Susan, losing the focus of the camaraderie of the company in a tedious West End spectacular, let down by the dull songs. Despite an excellent cast the whole thing falls fearfully flat
HOUR OF DECISION (1957, directed by C Pennington Richards, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)- Gary Bax of The Daily Gazette sniffs out stories at The Sapphire Club, but takes one sniff too many when meeting a mysterious woman. He collapses. Later we learn he had been poisoned. We know the woman is Peggy, who has recently married reporter Joe, and she had written some letters to Gary that might prove an embarassment. Joe joins Inspector Gower in the search for the killer. The latter is sure it's the unknown woman, ie Peggy, Joe doesn't tell him who she is of course. Jeff Morrow plays Joe like a rabbit in the proverbial headlights, while Hazel Court as Peggy is sadly anonymous. With a paucity of action, this is a straightforward whodunnit (unlike many other films under the Tempean brand), ending with the usual gathering of suspects. Of one thing you can be sure, not the English cop but the American star will crack the case
MORNING CALL (1957, directed by Arthur Crabtree, 4*)- At an ungoldy hour, Dr George Manning is called away to a cardiac case. He is kidnapped and American private eye Nick Logan (Ron Randell) is called in. He receives a small amount of help from Inspector Brown (Bruce Seton). Mrs Manning (Greta Gynt) insists on trying to pay the 5.000 ransom herself, but is frustrated by the public- the issue of newspaper interference is strongly brought out. However, she uses this to her advantage by a tv appearance, "she must be crazy." She finally makes the payoff on the train to Hereford, before the villain is traced
THE TRAITOR (1957, directed by Michael McCarthy, 2*)- This EJ Fancey production is much more ambitious than his usual tat, but no less boring for all that, the film dragging on with a ponderous script. Col Charles Price (Donald Wolfit) is out to get the traitor who betrayed Gerhard Keller in ze war. Once a year, his old unit gathers at the colonel's mansion- actually the Edgwarebury Hotel- and this year they speculate interminably on whodunnit, "we are all suspects." Surely the simplest way is to wait for each of them to be bumped off, after a couple are, though admittedly, "we shall all be here until kingdom come." The best line is about Sir Donald himself, or probably his character, "he's not a very good actor"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reviews of some 1958 films

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My reviews of Films from 1959
(In alphabetical order)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My reviews of Films from 1960
(In alphabetical order)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My reviews of Films from 1961
(In alphabetical order)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My reviews of Films from 1962
(In alphabetical order)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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