ADVENTURE IN THE HOPFIELDS
(1954, directed by John Guillermin, 4*)
- The Hop Dog was a wedding gift for Mrs Quin, "you'd think that dog was alive," so loved is it. But when daughter Jenny (Mandy Miller) accidentally smashes it, she runs away, joining the London exodus for a week hop picking in Kent. Apparently you could earn twelve pounds in a good week, enough to pay for the dog's repair.
Jenny joins her friend Susie with her six siblings and harrassed mum Mrs Harris (Dandy Nichols). But Jenny gets detached from them and ends up all alone on Goudhurst station. She's befriended by Sam (the underrated Harold Lang) who helps her write home. Unfortunately the envelope is blotted with ink and is never received.
In search of the Harris family, a hungry Jenny helps herself to an apple, and is chased by two young roughs, Ned (Melvyn Hayes) and Pat. She hides in a disused mill, before a happy day on the morrow picking hops, lots of jolly fun.
The Goudhurst policeman starts the long search among the hop pickers for her. But she is in the village where she sees a duplicate of the smashed dog, and Sam kindly lends her the forty five bob for it.
"Jenny's been arrested!" is the cry, but it's not as bad as that. The kindly bobby has found her and promises to phone her parents with the good news.
So Jenny is able to enjoy one last day, which happens to be the wedding of Laura and Bill (Edward Judd uncredited).
But while they are away Ned and Pat steal the dog, and in torrential rain the lads taunt Jenny running away with it to the mill. Amazing the dog doesn't get broken. She retrieves it but is accidentally trapped inside the mill. Lightning strikes and the mill is on fire! It's an effectively frightening scene.
Ned makes amends and saves her and even goes back to bring back the dog still intact, before reverting to type and soaking everyone with a fireman's hose.
Reunited with her parents, Jenny is happy
AUNT CLARA (1954, directed by Anthony Kimmins, Shepperton Studios, 4*) - The 80th birthday of Uncle Simon will be his last, most of his greedy relatives hope. It is, and he shocks them by leaving his estate to Clara (Margaret Rutherford). She inherits his 'man' Henry (Ronald Shiner), his greyhound, his pub, and other reprobate enterprises. Henry is a vital help in her "sacred trust," as she visits the hostelry, the idea being to contrast her sheltered living and the bawdy lifestyle. It doesn't come off though as the story unwinds, she is much more liberal than Henry expects, indeed she evens calls him "starchy." It's only the natural whimsy Miss Rutherford exudes that keeps the film afloat as she goes to the races, the dogs, and finally a house of tarts. Yet she somehow achieves the reforms her late uncle clearly desired
THE BLACK GLOVE aka FACE THE MUSIC (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 5*)- Top American trumpeter Brad (Alex Nicol) makes music with Maxine but then lands in big trouble when she's done in. A clue is a record made by Maxine accompanied by famous Jeff Colt, though he claims he never made this disc. Was the real pianist Johnny (Paul Carpenter)? The track had been cut at the Maida Vale studio of Maurie Green (Geoffrey Keen) though he denies any knowledge of these artists. Lots of moody jazz music and sets that even in the bright like of day look dark and sinister. A typical line, might be any aspiring film noir, is Brad's description of the wily Maurie, "he could hear a pound note hit a plush carpet a mile away"
BLACK RIDER (1954, directed by Wolf Rilla, Nettlefold Studios, 6*) -
A host of fine character actors gives this film a happy mix of drama and a little humour, with Leslie Dwyer as the irascible newspaper editor Charlie,
Jimmy Hanley and Rona Anderson as Jerry and Mary in love, Lionel Jeffries as the smooth foreigner Brenner, a crook of course, and with
Edie Morton as, as ever, an elderly lady. Local legend has it that the Black Monk, the devil himself, rides at full moon, and George (Kenneth Connor) has seen him.
Foreign spies are using the story as cover to smuggle in parts of an atomic sabotage weapon, being assembled in a castle dungeon.
In the best tradition of amateur sleuths, Jerry encourages his girl Mary to look round Brenner's mansion. What's she looking for, she asks him. "Anything suspicious."
When she finds that something, she is kidnapped. Charlie however can't believe anything is wrong with Brenner, though Jerry's mum is more perceptive, even though her reasoning is a little illogical: "I don't like his hat."
Jerry's motorcycle gang rescue Mary and put paid to the thankfully undefined evil plans of the foreigners
(1954, directed by Daniel Birt, Beaconsfield Studios, 4*)
- Financial difficulties for Jack who's "no businessman," being "too soft."
Duncan Lamont plays him with his usual sympathy, and he needs it with his wife Diana
(Jane Hylton) playing around with Jimmy (Donald Gray). Jack, she has in her hands like putty-
"if ever I'm going to run away, I'll give you plenty of warning."
In his workshop, Jack has it out with Jimmy and accidentally the place is burned to the ground.
The tension builds as we await identification of the charred body inside. Diana identifies it as Jack-
but is she lying? Since Donald Gray had only one arm, one would have thought the answer should be obvious.
However the police take their time about it. Meredith Edwards gives a nice performance as the new inspector, aided with his usual
dry wit by Cyril Smith.
In fact, the early dialogue in this Ted Willis script is often wooden, though it improves as the film goes on.
And it's Irene Handl who has the best part of Caroline, with her ultra-posh accent.
CHILDREN GALORE (1954, Brighton Studios, directed by Terence Fisher, 3*) - Must have been a team of men producing this study of a village where the family with the most grandchildren by a set date will win a new house. Whilst the men take it all in their stride, the gossipy women have most of the best lines and all the bitchiness: "all women's queer, one way or t'other." Sadly there's not much fun to be read in the faces of the cast and it's all too starchy and lacking any humour, black or otherwise, a sort of Whisky Galore without any of the spirit
CONFLICT OF WINGS (1954, directed by John Eldridge, Beaconsfield Studio, 4*)- What rotter is buying The Island of Children? No less than the RAF to make it a firing range. Apparently the birds here are the souls of Roman children, so of course we have the old tussle against authority, though hardly Conflict. Both sides are depicted, even handedly. An eel catcher put there by Henry VIII nearly decides the issue, then it's all down to this seagull sacrificing his Roman life. Finally the locals stage a sit in, on the lines of a very mini Dunkirk. "You might have been killed." The message seems to be that the little man can win
DANGEROUS CARGO (1954, directed by John Harlow, Nettlefold Studios, 4*) -
Tim Matthews (Jack Watling) works as a security guard, happily married to Janie (Susan Stephen). When bumps into old POW buddy Harry (Terence Alexander), I thought this might become a love triangle, instead this is a standard thriller. Harry is bent, and when honest Tim sinks into a betting debt the way is open for him to be blackmailed into assisting the gang rob the gold bullion that Tim transports. The naive central character is sympathetically well drawn, though more improbable is Luigi with his dark glasses played by John le Mesurier, "I don't take very kindly to you... you dirty little rat." Rough stuff and the kidnapping of Janie force Tim to sign up to the crime, but he informs the police, who are ready and waiting for the heist. Of course Tim joins in the fracas, getting injured for his troubles
DELAYED ACTION (1954, directed by John Harlow, Alliance Studios, 4*)-
An American deadbeat (Robert Ayres), about to commit suicide, is offered a strange bargain by suave Mark: Mark wants to buy the man's corpse! The scheme is that Mark takes on an alter ego, name of Ned Collins, the main interest in the film is why Mark wants him to do so. Ned starts building up a business empire, but his own plans change when he rescues a stranger from a car crash, and such an attractive stranger (June Thorburn) that they fall in love. She helps him complete his first novel and marriage is in the air before she finds out Ned's involved in something so shady he can't tell her about it. Now it's the time that Mark wants Ned to kill himself, as per their bargain. Alan Wheatley as Mark makes his usual enigmatic villain, and almost makes this film, along with his underling in crime Sellers (Bruce Seton) but the plot is never entirely convincing. Not one of Robert Baker and Monty Berman's finest productions
DEVIL'S POINT (1954, directed by Montgomery Tully, 1*)-
Insurance investigator Michael Mallard (Donald Houston) suspects the smuggling of medical supplies from ships is down to someone with inside information. The owner of the cargo boat Pretty Lady, John Martin (Richard Arlen) stumbles on one of these packages. The thieves spend the film attempting to retrieve it, making for a lethargic if not soporific plot, continuity not always smooth, the central character nothing to admire. Mallard sets a trap and Martin, perceiving at last the suignificance of the box plays a mysterious hiding game with it. The pair join forces and the car and foot chase round East India Docks raises the eyelids for a moment
TO DOROTHY A SON 1954, directed by Muriel Box, National Film Studios Boreham Wood, 3*)
- Another adaption of a stage play that never hides its origins and is nothing if not frustrating.
The story of Dorothy (Peggy Cummins) who is hourly expecting, her first child that is. She spends her whole time in bed, not really a great acting opportunity for an aspiring actress. She's married to the unfortunate Tony, a struggling song writer, who is due to inherit a two million dollar fortune, if only she will give birth to a son by a set time. Standing in their way of the dough, is the brash Myrtle, a successful singer (Shelley Winters), Tony's former wife, and standing in the way of any comedy is the over demanding Dorothy who has Tony running in all directions to satisfy her every whim. You sympathise with Tony who takes it all on the chin, for love of his wife, no doubt. John Gregson as the harassed husband was a fine actor but not really adept at comedy and though he raised one laugh, Joan Hickson as Ethel the barmaid managed two in her two brief scenes, and Joan Sims as a gossipy telephonist and Charles Hawtrey as a hotel porter also helped the fun, while Wilfred Hyde White added his usual British charm as the solicitor calmly sorting out the crisis.
What crisis? Tony and Myrtle vie with each other in a complicated exchange about the exact time of birth, a tangled argument about the international date line etc etc that Myrtle cannot comprehend, nor did I quite understand how the distribution of that inheritance was decided, but I can say it all ended happily ever after, at least for the participants if not the audience
EIGHT WITNESSES (1954, directed by Lawrence Huntington, Bavaria Filmkunst, 2*) -
An escaped Commie Professor Hildebrand has escaped from behind the Iron Curtain and is reunited with his daughter Helen (Peggy Ann Garner) in an institute for the blind.
He is stabbed by Commies in front of the inmates, but as all are blind, Intelligence Officer Allan (Dennis Price) is going to have a tough job finding the killer. This could have been quite a novel starting point for a whodunnit, though some of the characters' reactions, like Helen seeing her dead father, are unconvincing, and the film's continuity is decidedly shaky, and some music quite inappropriate, as the plot simplifies itself into a search for the prof's missing piece of paper. I think someone finds it
THE EMBEZZLER (1954, directed by John Gilling, Alliance Studios Twickenham, 4*)- Henpecked Henry (Charles Victor), cashier at the Western Bank, is given only two years to live. He "gets out of the rut," by helping hismelf from the safe and heading abroad. Alas! Police are watching The Golden Arrow, so he switches to the Eastbourne train, ending up at the Eastcote Hotel, where the residents are "half dead." It's not the place of his dreams but he mellows, helping a doctor's wife who is being blackmailed by the evil Alec, and a gullible widow being swindled by this same villain. He tries to poison Alec, quite unsuccessfully, but he needn't have bothered, since Alec is arrested for passing Henry's stolen banknotes. The film changes character, never quite succeeding as thriller, nor pulling at the heart strings, but it has its moments
FAST AND LOOSE (1954 directed by Gordon Parry, Pinewood Studios, 6*)-
Brian Reece is ideal as dithery Peter, somehow separated at the station from his new bride Barbara, whose mother (Fabia Drake) is the original battleaxe. Her downtrodden father (Stanley Holloway) must sort Peter out, who's grabbed a car to catch up with Barbara's train, but he's kindly giving a lift to old friend Carol (Kay Kendall). Oh dear, the car's had an accident, they'll have to stay at a rural inn, run by a second battleaxe, Mrs Gullett (Joan Young), and of course they have to pretend to be married and have to share a room... it's all perfectly innocent "to any decent minded person." All the usual elements of farce are here in Ben Travers fine script. Most memorable of the cameos is Reginald Beckwith as the effusive vicar, who most memorably gives Fabia Drake a pillion ride on his motorbike
FINAL APPOINTMENT (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)-
Mike Billings of the Sunday Star (John Bentley) plays his typical reporter in raincoat. Has he stumbled on a scoop, the link between three unsolved murders? All killed on successive July 10ths, and all served on a wartime court martial tribunal. He can guess who might be killed this coming Saturday, July 10th, the final member of the group, Hartnell, a solicitor. Inspector Corcoran does the legwork, while Mike dates Hartnell's secretary Miss Laura Robins, "just business." Hartnell himself is unconcerned about his possible demise, but he should be. The cunning George Martin is out for revenge, but nearly meets his own end in the shape of a blackmailer who is also on to his evil scheme. An average crime thriller, but with a nice touch of humour. Producer: Francis Searle
THE GAY DOG (1954, Riverside Studios, directed by Maurice Elvey, 5*) - Raving Beauty- "the world is run for her benefit," an odds-on favourite at t'Northern greyhound racetracks. A couple of romances and plenty of subterfuge before t' big race--- and a fortune. But as the vicar reminds us: "the love of money" etc etc so the winnings have to go to charity! Those were the days of morality! "I don't know which is worse, you or the dog." The film has some nice comic moments in this portrait of an obsession, for example unsung Noel Dyson in particular provides some lovely touches. Watch her asleep after introducing a First Aid Lecture. Lots of other nostalgic scenes at Whist Drives, and even down Coal Mines. "Oh that blessed dog!"
GOLDEN IVORY (1954, directed by George Breakston, 0*)- John Benley stars as John, who with his brother Jim (Robert Urquhart) are on the trail of a fortune which dead hunter Johnny has put them on to. They are vying for the affections of a girl (Susan Stephen) who considering she has spent all her life in the country is remarkably pale. A series of disjointed episodes are mixed in with snakes, lions etc, the colour photography is hardly compensation. "There's nothing in the world I want more," except perhaps for this piffle to finish. Before that can happen, we have confrontation with the Masai who all apparently understand the white man's (possibly forked) tongue
GREAT DAY (1954, directed by Lance Comfort, D&P Studios, 3*)-
In the war, Denley WI prepares for the visit of the US President's wife, "a great day for Denley." There are moments of philosophy on freedom among the multiplicity of character studies in this rural idyll, but too many people means the main theme is neglected, indeed lost. One main family is featured, ex army dreamer John and his hardworking wife Elizabeth. There's "a terrible rumpus," their land girl daughter's proposed marriage, and one moving scene with Flora Robson, as John contemplates suicide. But this is ruined by the line, "daddy you are naughty!" The great day does finally dawn if you care
THE HARASSED HERO (1954 directed by Maurice Elvey, Nettlefold Studios, 3*) - Hypochondriacs are always good comedy fodder, here it's one Selwyn (Guy Middleton), who despite being ordered complete rest, runs into too much excitement when he stumbles across a briefcase full of forged banknotes. The crooks, led by Logan (the commanding presence of Elwyn Brook-Jones) want their printing plates back, and they have a long and occasionally amusing chase after them. With Selwyn cured, thanks to a romance with his Nurse Brooks, there's drama as she is kidnapped by Logan, "unless he gives me the plates, he's never going to see you again." But of course, Selwyn does. The best cameo is from Joss Ambler as a laughing forgetful doctor
IMPULSE (1954 Nettlefold Studios, directed by Charles du Latour - probably in reality Cy Enfield, 6*)- Is Sussex estate agent Alan Curtis in a rut? Not when he picks up a stranded (female of course) motorist, Lila (Constance Smith), who's being chased by two men, policemen apparently. They want her in connection with her brother Barry who has stolen some jewellery, she says. Alan's "good deed for today" is giving her a lift to her London nightclub, but that's only for starters. Harry (once called Barry) isn't quite what she's claimed and he's not the only one. A typical trait of Baker and Berman films, though here the plot is quite easy to follow. Yes, even poor Alan can realise the police now want him for murder! American guest star is Arthur Kennedy who plays it out with a deadpan disinterest, though his ambivalent character is quite complex for a Tempean film
JOHNNY-ON-THE-SPOT (1954, directed by Maclean Rogers, Bushey Studios, 2*)- A typical EJ Fancey prodcution, little tension, little emotion shown by the characters, but a certain naive charm, and this one isn't as amateurishly constructed as some.
Johnny (Hugh McDermott) is out of prison, and out for revenge on the swindler Osborne who put him there. But he only finds his enemy already dead, plus a dead girl, Julia. Suspicious is Joan Ingram (Elspet Gray) whom Johnny sees driving away from the scene of the crime with Walter. Another dubious character is a blind pianist who plays Rachmaninoff rather badly just as Johnny finds the corpse. Inspector Beveridge (Ronald Adam) and his sergeant (young Conrad Phillips) is soon asking Johnny some tough questions. Johnny entrusts to his friend Paul (Paul Carpenter) Osborne's diary, but it is stolen. Johnny has a stroke of luck in tracing the pianist, and this leads him to actress Diane, who is holding Joan a prisoner. But what it's really all about as we reach the showdown I have some difficulty in explaining
MAD ABOUT MEN (1954, directed by Ralph Thomas, 5*) - a sequel to "Miranda". Improvements- this was made in colour and is enhanced by cameos from Dora Bryan as a flirtatious mermaid, and Noel Purcell as an old salt.
The trouble is that the whole film can't sustain an hour and a half of Glynis Johns being voluptuous. The story concerns Miss Trewella who is engaged to a dull civil servant. When our mermaid takes her place for a holiday, she
determines to get the engagement broken off and find her human cousin a more romantic fiance.
MAN ON THE CLIFF (1954, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, 3*)- Shot on location, narrated by Ronald Leigh-Hunt who plays a man suffering from loss of memory. He awakes on top of a cliff and decides he must be Professor James Pendlebury, an atomic scientist who has gone missing. Stumbling over a corpse on the rocks at the foot of the cliff, he borrows the dead man's identity, John Tilling. Hiding in a hotel is his next mistake, for Mrs Tilling is holidaying here! The local police (John Harvey) interrogate him and there's no way he can avoid being reunited with his wife. However he's in for another shock as she identifies him as her husband! He collapses and the knock causes his memory to return, a flashback revealing all
MURDER BY PROXY (1954 directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 5*)-
"Best offer I've had tonight," drunken reporter Casey tells this blonde when she picks him up offering £500 for them to get married. One of those impenetrable mysteries in which the girl's millionaire father is then done in. Belinda Lee
plays the enigmatic Phyllis while Dane Clark is Casey who's advised very strongly "to get the first plane out of town." Clark had something of a love affair with British films, playing these baffling scenes with all the calmness of a man who knows what's going on, even though noone else does, "how big a chump can you be?"
NO RESTING PLACE (1954, directed by Paul Rotha, filmed in Ireland, 2*)- This is no Irish whimsy, it's the dour portrait of tinker Alec Kyle who accidentally kills Ross a gamekeeper, who has attacked his son. John Mannigan (Noel Purcell), an ageing policeman pursues him with an old fashioned zeal that's never explained, but then the Irish method of pursuing criminals slowly is really only an excuse to show the sad Alec's nomadic life. He's "a bit queer in the head," involved in a pub brawl with Mannigan, an ideal role for Michael Gough, but we see too his good side, devoted to his dying wife Meg. The film is hard going with an inevitably poignant ending
ONE JUMP AHEAD (1954, Southall Studios, directed by Charles Saunders, 5*)- 'R Snell 1A' is murdered. Reporter Paul (Carpenter) gets to realise Snell's friend ought to have been killed as he's learned the secret of the Ruined Church. "How'd you like to come and see some old ruins with me?" is his novel chat-up line to girlfriend Maxine. There they stumble on a woman's corpse. It appears she's talked of some "buried treasure" in this bombed out church. But Paul soon finds the crooks are always One Jump Ahead of him, mainly because of his two-timing girl Judy. In the ruins there's a dramatic conclusion to a sometimes poignant story (as when the dead child's family are interviewed) and sometimes fun (Paul C smiles through this role), though Jill Adams as Judy is, I'm afraid, unconvincing
PAID TO KILL (1954, directed by Montgomery Tully, Bray Studios, 4*)- Jim Neville (Dane Clark) is facing the collapse of the large business he runs, so persuades old drunken buddy Paul Kirby to bump him off, "sounds desperate." Jim even finds his beloved wife Andrea distancing herself from him. But when Jim's project finds a backer, "the deal is off," only Kirby can't be found to warn him. Then Jim is shot, though not fatally, the rest of the film spent trying to trace first Kirby, then when Jim realises he has another enemy, dodging death. One impressive scene is in an ill lit alley. The final confrontation is really tense also
PASSING STRANGER (1954, directed by John Arnold, 5*)- At the Blue Barn Cafe, Jill (Diane Cilento) takes pity on Chick (Lee Patterson), on the run after robbery with violence. His gang as well as police are after him. Surprisingly world weary for a B film, you know their love is doomed as they try to get away to start a new life. To do that, Chick must grab the proceeds of the robbery from the gang by a doublecross, you hope that
PROFILE (1954, directed by Francis Searle, Shepperton Studios, 4*)-
Things are not quite right between Aubrey Holland and his young wife Margo. She's fallen for Peter (John Bentley), who has just been appointed editor by Holland on a new magazine. Margo's ex-husband is her first fly in the ointment, trying to blackmail her, though a worse second is Susan (Thea Gregory), Aubrey's grown-up daughter from his first marriage, over whom Peter starts to "drool." At the launch of the first number of Profile, Aubrey dies of a heart attack. There's never a second edition, as the company is bankrupt, Peter has been cashing cheques on the firm's account, though he claims no knowledge of it. Margo knows the truth- she has the best role, Kathleen Byron playing it with her usual acerbic villainy. Peter finds himself also framed for murder before he exposes the real killer in a chase round the printers
RADIO CAB MURDER (1954 directed by Vernon Sewell, Nettlefold Studios, 4*)-
Taxi driver Fred (Jimmy Hanley) follows a car driven by crooks after a shooting. Though it gets away, police ask Frank, even though he's a reformed safe breaker, to get evidence agianst this gang, whose latest job is to rob £50,000 from a bank. Though he's rumbled, Fred uses his cab radio to guide police to where the gang have fled to. Fred is shut in a deep freeze, can he be rescued in time?
RIVERBEAT (1954, directed by Guy Green, Nettlefold Studios, 5*)- Ship radio operative Judy unthinkingly smuggles cigarettes when she steps ashore. In a pub she makes friends with Dan Barker (John Bentley) who happens to be an inspector for the Thames police. Next time she smuggles she's caught, and diamonds are found on her, "that's almost unbelievable." Surely the boss has to elimnate her, "I guess it does look pretty bad." She has identified Charles (Glyn Houston) in Poplar as one of the gang, and she tails him as he tries to get away. He lands in her own ship. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill you Judy." There's a riverboat chase and a good end with Inspector Barker facing the boss standing in the river mud facing his gun
THE TECKMAN MYSTERY (1954, directed by Wendy Toye, Shepperton Studios, 5*)- Novelist Philip Chance is persuaded to write a book about test pilot Martin Teckman whose F109 disintegrated in mid air. As this is an adaptation of a tv serial, it's surprising how plodding the start is, but tension does build with a series of corpses and red herrings as "dangerous busybody" Philip investigates. Some sparkling dialogue might give you the feel of this mystery: "If there's anything you haven't told me about this Teckman business...", "Everything about your brother seems to get complicated", "How can I take no chances, when I haven't the faintest idea what's going on?", "It's no use pretending you've got the upper hand just because you're carrying a revolver. It might just as well be a stick of rhubarb!", "Philip, are you being quite honest with me?", "You fool, do you think it's as easy as that?", "I'm sorry I had to be so cryptic", "I don't know what to believe, inspector", "Inspector, would you mind telling me what the devil this whole business is about?"
THIRD PARTY RISK - (1954, directed by Daniel Birt, Bray Studios, 3*)-
The plodding script and Lloyd Bridges are the weaknesses of this thriller, Bridges' face registering little emotion of any kind, certainly little involvement with his character.
And the music must be the worst of any British 50's film! The star plays Phillip Graham who is kidnapped in Spain, mistaken for his old RAF buddy Tony Roscoe.
After a slow start, the film briefly warms up as Phil stumbles over Tony's corpse in his London flat. He was a society photographer and had been blackmailing clients, including ex girlfriend Mitzi.
He'd also been filming new antibotic research. Mitzi is pally with old Mr Darius (Finlay Currie), whose niece Marina (Maureen Swanson) falls for Phil.
But there is little coherence to the plot as Phil uses the antibiotics microfilm to lure the boss of the criminals into the open, and back in Spain, the net slowly and dully closes
TIME IS MY ENEMY (1954, directed by Don Chaffey, 5*)-
Diamond thief Martin (Dennis Price) has shot a west end jeweller and blackmails his estranged wife Barbara (Renee Asherson), who has got married again to John, believing the worthless Martin to have been killed in the blitz. She hands him a pendant.
As ever, he comes back for more. "Are you in any sort of a jam?" Of course she is, but daren't tell a soul, as she hands Martin £400 more. But he wants yet more and, goaded, she shoots him. A little late now, but she tells John. But quickly, the gallant John covers up the evidence, except the £400 which has strangely gone missing, but inevitably he is spotted by Martin's ditched girlfriend Evelyn. Inspector Charles Wayne (Duncan Lamont) has no option but to arrest Barbara, or has he? He resigns and it's left to his keen-eyed sergeant to dig up Evelyn for a neat twist that gives us an unexpectedly happy finale
TRACK THE MAN DOWN (1954 directed by RG Springsteen, Nettlefold Studios, 2*)- Mary (Ursula Howells) is besotted with Rick Lambert, a petty crook who has just robbed a greyhound track. Her sister June (Petula Clark) has better judgement, not taking to him at all, but the closing police net is slowed down by too many characters. Everything is too formulaic about this film, the stand off a cross between The Ghost Train and The Runaway Bus, without the laughs, and with no thrills either. The best part with some good close up shots is when Rick and the nervous Ken (Kenneth Griffith) hijack a bus, and hole out in a boathouse
THE UNHOLY FOUR (1954, directed by Terence Fisher, Bray Studios, 4*) aka
THE STRANGER CAME HOME-
"We thought you were dead," but after four years Philip 'Vic' has returned home, in an impressive opening that sadly isn't seen through. Job (Patrick Holt), Harry and Bill (Paul Carpenter) had been with Vic when he disappeared in Portugal, he's sure one of them had tried to kill him to marry his wife Angie (Paulette Goddard), "a corpse doesn't write to his executioner to say I'm Coming Back." Whodunnit? There are plenty of good lines to make up for the lack of action. Bill: "I don't like people very much, not even the people I like." Inspector: "I wish I had a week's holiday with pay for every time I've heard that. I wouldn't have to work until 1994." Vic: "You don't need a psychiatrist, you need a little sense"
UP TO HIS NECK (1954, directed by John Paddy Carstairs, Pinewood Studios, 4*)- Able Seaman Jack Carter (Ronald Shiner) has spent ten idyllic years on a Pacific isle, he doesn't want to be rescued. It's a whimsical start, but turns to a more conventional war/crime/comedy when Carter trains a ship's crew for jungle duties, in order to destroy a bandit sub. "We're dealing with fanatics," as the sailors attempt to navigate the vessel- nice moments are dotted round the action. I liked Hattie Jacques "mothering" Brian Rix, and Ronald Shiner teaching Rix to be "a he-man." Sample dialogue- Chinese girl: "What's your name?" Shiner, as he's hit by a missile, "Who Flung That?"
start of page