Colonel March of Scotland Yard starring Boris Karloff

1 Hot Money 5*
2 Death in the Dressing Room 4*
3 New Invisible Man 4*

4 The Second Mona Lisa 4*
5 At Night all Cats are Grey 5*
6 The Abominable Snowman 3*
7 The Lively Ghost 5*
8 The Sorcerer 4*

9 The Deadly Gift 6*
10 Passage at Arms 3*
11 The Headless Hat 3*
12 The Case of the Kidnapped Poodle 4*
13 The Misguided Missal 6*
14 Death and the Other Monkey 4*
15 Death in Inner Space 4*
16 The Devil Sells his Soul 7*
17 Error at Daybreak 6*
18 The Invisible Knife 3*
19 The Stolen Crime 5*
20 The Missing Link 4*
21 Murder is Permanent 4*
22 Present Tense 5*
23 The Silent Vow 3*
24 The Silver Curtain 2^
25 The Strange Event At Roman Fall 5*
26 The Talking Head 6*
The first home grown filmed crime series to be shown on the new Independent Television Channel in Britain. In fact, the date the first three stories on this list were made was back in 1952, directed by the great Cy Endfield, as the feature film Colonel March Investigates. The remaining 23 stories were filmed in 1954, the first television series produced under the auspices of Hannah Weinstein (1912-1984), once famously described by Peter Noble as "the Queenpin of the half hour movie." Although her name does not appear in the screen credits, it is certain that this is the tv series that she cut her teeth on.
The stories were based on a crime novel written by eminent criminal novelist Carter Dickson (aka John Dickson Carr). Boris Karloff starred as the enigmatic Colonel March head of D3, The Department of Queer Complaints, with Ewan Roberts as the less than brilliant Inspector Ames.

My favourite episodes: perhaps #16 The Devil Sells His Soul, and #17 Error at Daybreak, though no story is really scintillating The picture is from this latter story
Best moment: in #13 The Misguided Missal, Col March indulges in some neat trickery to outsmart even the great Chan Canasta
Dud episode: #10 Passage at Arms is very dull, odd that it was chosen as the first of the series to be screened on ATV London!

To the Dinosaur TV Crime Menu

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1 Hot Money
Opening shot- a rather evil looking rubber mask, "like a Freudian dream." This has four teeth, whilst the mask in the story has only one. In the original film March shows us the mask with one tooth with these comments- "but what was behind this face, this mask, this idiot expression, made by the thousands to be sold to small children? I saw it and I was participating in a witches' sabbath in the refined heart of a quiet London bank."
"Rather extraordinary", but March happens to witness a bank heist. He walks into Barclays, 140 Kings Rd. to encounter a masked robber. "OK, you'll get your cut," whispers the crook to clerk John Parrish as he dashes off. But in a taxi, John follows the thief to 17 Victoria Street, office of a solicitor named Boulder (Ronald Leigh-Hunt). John dials 999 and when Inspector Ames arrives, Boulder is accused of the crime, all the while Miss Dawson the secretary taking copious notes (a small role for Joan Sims, into which she puts some typical comic touches). But though police make a thorough search of the office, no sign of the stolen money.
That night Col March, though he has stated to Insp Ames that the case is not his department, snoops round the office. He is interrupted by a thief (Robert Arden, not credited)- "if it isn't Johnny Dunn, the eminent safecracker!" exclaims March. March explains his presence- he's trying to solve the Puzzle of the Vanishing Banknotes. Dunn, in his turn, talks to March like an old buddy, and tells him Boulder had asked to borrow his safecracking tools. He was here to search for the secret safe he felt sure Boulder had constructed. They search together, but in vain.
Inspector Ames is confident anyway that he's got the robber, who is John. "There are no hidden spaces in the walls or in the floors, and the ceiling too." Therefore John is lying. Further he was short of money, and even more damning, had worked some years back on the refurbishment of Boulder's office.
But March is persistent.and returns to question Boulder in his office. "I now propose to find the money," he announces to the solicitor. So where is it? Inspector Ames watches, baffled. "It's in the "mentally invisible furniture," elucidates March, as he plays a game of hide and seek with Ames. "Getting warmer......" Then "Boiling hot!" And there is that missing cash. "Why didn't I think of that?" queries poor Ames.

A slight but enjoyable story. I can't quite follow why Boulder needed safecracking tools or indeed why a solicitor would go in for bank robbing, but there's plenty else to admire in this short little film
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2 Death in the Dressing Room
Opening shot- a long knife. In the original film version Colonel March also introduces us to a card- "two objects tell this story. One, the ancient blade ceremonial knife stained with the blood of primitive ritual. The other, a card, a very modern, very civilised printed card. The card begins the story, the knife ends it."

The card reads- "13 October 1952 (which perhaps hints at the approximate time of filming). DW Cabot Presents Francine Rapport in a Series of Javanese Dances at the Embassy Club." Scribbled underneath is a personal handwritten note inviting the colonel to come.
Richard Wattis plays Cabot the embittered night club owner who would rather have been a university professor of Javanese Dancing. He is betting a fiver with Col March that an obscure dance where a dancer thinks he's invisible is Indonesian rather than Indian.
Backstage however, all is not well. A distraught girl, Joan Forsythe, is handing Francine 1,000 for her fiance, Hugh Rockwell's letters. Cabot interrupts, promising that she'll get the letters, "you know, blackmail is not part of the entertainment at this club," he tells her in his smooth Wattis voice, adding, "even though the audience does consist mainly of blackguards!"
Now Francine dances the Torture Dance, "she really is excellent," declares March, though some might disagree. March is puzzled as to why her dance is calling for help "not with her voice, but with her body." Afterwards, she is found in her dressing room stabbed in the back. As Joan was the only person in the room after the act, Inspector Ames is ready to arrest her.
However at her trial she's acquitted because Col March refuses to testify that he definitely saw Joan leave that room after the dance, and this naturally rouses Ames'ire.
Then there's laughter in the sacred precincts of the British Museum! The Colonel is learning some interesting facts, just as a dagger whizzes through the air towards him. A deft movement of a book saves the colonel, though the destruction of the valuable book is not appreciated by museum staff.
March returns to the club and performs a miracle, asking Cabot about Francine, "can you bring her back from the dead.... like this!" It's incredible, but there is Francine dancing again. Of course it is a trick.
Finally March settles that bet with Cabot and makes his arrest.

A tortuous story with a lot of sinister dark goings-on, overlaid with Boris Karloff's enigmatic performance

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3 New Invisible Man
Opening shot- A cube shaped Chinese puzzle.

Major Henry Rodman espies in a neighbour's window a pair of gloves and a gun. "The gun, disembodied, slowly rose from the table," he explains to Col March. Then it picked up the gun to shoot a man in the room! Are these "the idiot ravings of an old goat?" Certainly Inspector Ames is inclined to this opinion.
At the house, No 34, Mrs Hartley shows the police her front room. "Blow me," declares the sceptical Ames, "if the body hasn't floated away with the gloves!" Certainly no corpse, but March spots a Chinese puzzle box. And there's the man the Major saw being shot, a photo of Mr Hartley's Uncle Nicholas, who died four years back.
That evening, through binoculars, Inspector Ames sees what the Major had seen. The gloves. A shot! He dashes over to No 34. There are the "floating gloves." It's a trick in the table explains March, who's been fooling poor Ames. "It's done with mirrors." But why, is the more difficult puzzle.
It proves a plot to steal priceless treasures from another neighbour. March catches the criminal, or rather is caught by him. "Next stop will be the River Thames," he's promised. But fortunately the Major isn't so thick after all, and spots what's happening and March is rescued in time.
"March," splutters Ames, "either you're a genius, or I'm a fool!"

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4 The Second Mona Lisa
Opening shot- The first Mona Lisa!

No Inspector Ames in this story.

At the Florentine Gallery, O'Brien (Alan Wheatley) has "a surprise" Col March, for he has obtained a priceless Leonardo da Vinci original for sale. "I can't afford it!" promptly declares the colonel.
But O'Brien already has two interested buyers for the Second Mona Lisa, "painted six months after the first." Not quite as perfect allegedly as the first Mona! Art connoiseur Matthew Constable is supposed to own the original Second Mona Lisa. He is "the greatest living authority on Florentine paintings." After years of research, O'Brien believes that Constable's Leonardo (if that makes sense!) is a mere copy as he has the original, bought from a soldier after the war. Moreover, O'Brien has persuaded Constable himself to examine and then authenticate it!
The art expert isn't sure when he inspects the painting. "Stalling for time," believes O'Brien.
While Constable goes away to deliberate, the prospective purchasers arrive: American Wyatt (Robert Ayres- you can tell he's American by his large size in hats) and an Arab Emir (Eric Pohlmann), who says the picture reminds him of his ninth wife!
Constable pronounces his judgement, graciously finding for his rival. A bidding war begins, Wyatt offers $500,000, the Emir $600,000, eventually the sale goes to the American, naturally- for $750,000.
But the priceless work of art is quickly stolen from his room in exchange, it appears for the copy. Wyatt dashes off to confront the Emir, who certainly now is in possession of a Mona Lisa, but according to O'Brien it's only the copy. Mr Constable has to be summoned to decide which is the original once more. Yes, the Emir has the original now! A "roughhouse" ensues.
It's up to Colonel March to sort out this "hanky-panky" and since he'd wisely taken the precaution of marking the original his task is easy. He concludes with a sad speech, exposing a swindler

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5 At Night all Cats are Grey
Opening shot of a large model of the human eye.
At a Piccadilly restaurant a young girl in a brown dress, "terribly frightened," interrupts Colonel March at his repast of !"rattlesnake." She says she's being followed- "pretend to speak to me of love," she asks. "Pretend!" March picks up the word, flirting, which helps her decide it's time to leave!
The chimes of midnight see March retiring when a gun is pointed in his back. "Let's have the designs," demands a red headed American. He thinks the "French floosie" model Fleur passed them to March. So the intruder can search his room, March is bashed on the head, awakening in hospital. News comes that Fleur has been found dead in her flat.
March examines the crime scene and is particularly interested in the purple shoe she was wearing. Straight to Bond Street and couturier Jean-Pierre (Christopher Lee). March learns Fleur had the choice of the collection to wear, being the most favoured of Jean-Pierre's models. "Madame hated her," model Yvette informs March.
Back at the Yard, March is closely examining a model of an eye causing Inspector Ames to puzzle why March is wasting his time. "I have a theory," Ames proudly announces. "I can put two and two together." "Unfortunately your answer," jokes March, "is always four." Ames' theory relates to bootleg fashion dresses.
The American turns out to be a private eye who had been ordered to follow Fleur, to find out why dresses were disappearing from the couturiers.
Here, Colonel March reveals that at night all cats are grey. He explains why Fleur's corpse, dressed in brown, had been given purple shoes. A simple experiment with brown and purple shoes exposes her colour blind killer
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6 The Abominable Snowman
Opening shot- A Footprint.
A topical tale since Everest was conquered in 1953.

Snow in London, and on the ledge outside Colonel March's office is an odd "calling card," a giant footprint, "the same size and shape as that of the Abominable Snowman." The obvious question is asked by Inspector Ames, "how did it get there?"
Inside the sacred precincts of the Himalayan Mountaineers' Club is a mere woman! Mountaineer Mary Gray has been applying for membership for the past three years, and tonight she's being allowed in, in order to show her film 'The Trail of the Abominable Snowman.' All the members are talking however of the footprints each has receive, "we've violated its sacred mountain with our pride," explains Osborne (Ivan Craig). He's been slightly unbalanced ever since his partner Clive Hastings had been killed on an expedition on Everest. Mary had been camerawoman and the film they now watch is a record of that climb. As all watch in rapt attention, there's a sharp scream as the AS bursts through the films creen in the darkened room. Chaos! Lights on, as the Colonel announces dramatically "The Abominable Snowman is in this room!" But where?
The meeting has to end and privately Osborne tells the Colonel he knows the identity of the pseudo-AS. It's Hastings. His soul wants revenge on all those in the club.
Mary finds one of those footprints on her ledge. "Keep your door locked," is March's wise advice.
9pm at the club and a rescreening of the film is ordered by March. "A wild goose chase," he tells members, but he's got them all here to avoid a tragedy. But then what about Mary? Oh dear, exclaims the Colonel in fake surprise. Everyone makes for Mary's house at once.
Alone at home, Mary waits. A shadow at the window. A hairy monster clambers in. It gets out a rope and starts throttling her. It speaks! It tells Miss Gray why it's having to kill her. Enter the Colonel. Exit AS, back out of the window climbing to the top of the snowy roof. A fight on the dangerous narrow roof, and the rotter is exposed

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7 The Lively Ghost
Opening shot is of what appears to be a crystal ball.

Madame Richter a fortune teller, seeks March's assistance. "Something devillish is going on," she explains to Col March who has pricked up his ears. She'd been working nine months with Mrs Fortescue whose elder son Henry had died in Canada. "An ideal sucker," comments March, for Mme Richter's "fakery." Though she admits she had employed all the usual tricks of her art, she's now baffled herself because at her last seance, Henry really did appear inviting all and sundry to the next session. March goes with her to the Fortescue home.
Invited to the seance are:
Mrs Fortescue, wheelchair-bound accompanied by Miss Dunn her nurse.
Terry (Tony Wright), Henry's twin brother. He believes Henry isn't dead.
Victoria, once engaged to Henry, and her aristocrat father who had refused to allow them to marry.
Before the big event, March hears that Fenton, who had brought news of Henry's death, has been murdered.
"Shall we proceed?" Mme Richter performs her usual mumbo jumbo. Significant looks from all present. March looks inquisitive. Then a vision! In a puff a smoke Henry appeareth. He cannot, he says, forgive Vicky. It prompts Victoria to blurt out she really loves Terry, she never did love Henry. A gunshot! "That ghost's a very bad shot!" remarks March. Lights on and March exposes some more trickery. Inspector Ames marches in the trickster, whilst March attempts to explain it all
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8 The Sorcerer
Opening shot- a hat pin

John Cusby of Cusby and Cusby calls on Col March with a complaint about a "witch doctor." "Splendid!" exclaims the colonel. Cusby's wife has been consulting "celebrated psychoanalyst" Dr James Patten, and is under his influence according to Cusby, who threatens to kill the poor doctor should this continue. Working for Patten is Dr Brian Hayes, "the sorceror's apprentice" he calls himself. March meets Mrs Patten who seems deranged, she believes Hayes is "a wicked person."
At Mrs Cusby's next session, she witters on as per usual only realising at the end that her shrink has died! As the room was locked from the inside, it must have been she who killed him with her hat pin, thus Inspector Ames is quick to arrest her. "Case solved."
March of course is having none of it. The worst she might have done is "talked him to death!" March plods through Dr Patten's lengthy books and finds "the key." There in the murder room he gathers:
Cusby, who'd threatened to kill Patten.
Mrs Cusby, Ames' star suspect.
Dr Hayes, the pupil of the great man.
Mrs Patten, who's still not on speaking terms with Hayes.
March seeks out the "lunatic" taking on the role of Dr Patten as he recreates Mrs Cusby's last therapy. Just like in Cluedo, he makes his accusation, and unlike Ames, he is correct

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9 The Deadly Gift
Opening shot- a casket. This seems to have been intended as a kind of Christmas special, with Ewan Roberts even singing snatches of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

"One of the finest women I know," that's The Duchess (Sandra Dorne), alias Miss Rosalinda Holland, in reality an attractive barmaid. So claims Col March in some entertaining banter with Inspector Ames. March is smartening himself up to take her to a solicitor, Harwood, who is going read the will of John Blake who died ten years ago. Blake had been an international criminal, "an uncommon crook" March calls him, suspected of involvement with many robberies including a maharajah's emerald "as big as your hand."
The Duchess' legacy proves to be a box. She opens it with anticipation. It's a music box "quite empty, worth perhaps a pound." Despite careful scrutiny from the Colonel, there seems to be no valuable secret hidden in the box.
However Harwood later confesses to having recently opened the box. Though he'd found nothing inside, he seems to have been poisoned - a deadly gift!
Colonel March does some thinking. The 30th of December was the date of the legacy- why that day? Ames and he realise it's the fifth day of Christmas and go through the words of the carol, "Five golden rings"- and Blake had given Rosie 5 rings all joined together. March takes her to the jeweller who had made the box, and it turns out he'd been instructed by Blake to keep a packet for her in his safe until she called for it. Unlike the solicitor he's not been inquisitive! Rosie opens it to find the giant emerald, "worth a fortune."
Back home she enjoys admiring her gift, but this pleasure is short lived. Blake's ex-partner has been following her and demands that emerald. Fortunately March and Ames appear from nowhere to make an arrest.
In a Christmassy closing scene, Rosie vows to return her gift to the rightful owner "with the compliments of the Duchess." March concludes a nice story by revising his already stated opinion of the Duchess... upwards

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10 Passage at Arms
Opening shot- Crossed swords.

Mrs Pollard, a rich lonely widow (Rachel Gurney) falls for an artist in France. One day, he picks up her necklance and rings, putting them in his pocket, "quite calmly, just as if they were his." He left, never to be seen again- until now. He's in London, as part of the French fencing team.
Colonel March seeks the assistance of Inspector Goron (Eric Pohlmann) of the French police, "I love you March, but England, the climate is bad, the food is worse, but your police methods...!" Nevertheless the thought of a beautfiul woman brings Goron quickly in on the case. However Goron never meets her as she's found murdered, suffocated.
Inspector Ames questions each of the fencing team, whilst Goron loafs idly, cynically watching British police methods.
Charles Dubois- his alibi, he was "with a lady."
Marcel Leclair- he was "talking a walk."
Rene Trenier, star of the team- was "having dinner" with Delius (Laurence Payne), one of the English team.
Delius confirms this alibi, though he does admit Rene was absent for part of the meal. "it points to Renier Trenier," concludes Ames.
It's Match Night! Rene v Delius will decide the England v France contest. Referee is none other than Colonel March.
En garde- play! Three hits will win it.
France 1 England 0.
But then it's a "Foul" cries the Colonel and France are declared winners. Another English player in disgrace (sounds sort of familiar?). But it's worse than even that! March exposes the murderer.
"For an Englishman you have a nice sense of the dramatic," congratulates Goron

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11 The Headless Hat
Opening shot- an upturned hat. No Inspector Ames (despite the opening titles).

In Marseilles, on a dark wharf, a sailor stabs a man. At the Pension Angleterre, owned by Englishwoman Mrs Sargent (Betty Paul), Col March is enjoying his holiday, allegedly. She is confiding in the colonel "the police are not all that could be desired," when in pops Inspector Goron himself to inform the landlady that one guest Pierre Lacoste will not be staying there any more. He's been stabbed. "Our first real clue" is a sailor's hat with the name Monsieur Z inscribed in it- very careless of someone! Moreover the shadowy Z is suspected of smuggling English currency. Now March confesses that he's really after this same gang. He's mystified why Mrs Sargent seems so upset about her guest's death. She admits she did know Pierre quite well. Along with Z and her late husband, they had all been members of the Resistance.
The devious colonel purchases an identical yachting cap, then 'borrows' the headless hat from Goron and takes it to the Pension with the idea of luring Z there to come and get it back. He needs it to identify himself to the smugglers, for this was an old resistance trick during the war. "When he comes to collect it, he'll walk into a trap."
March accompanies Mrs Sargent to Chez Marius, an old Resistance rendezvous, where Mrs S sings, just as she used to in days gone by. "He's here," she whispers to March. There is one shot and one dead man. But it's not Z. Z has got away, but a police chase tracks him down to the Pension, and if you hadn't guessed already, the identity of Z is pretty obvious by now. March, if not Goron, is able to solve this case. "You've known for some time," Z says to March. At the point of Z's gun, March hears Z's confession before Z shoots March. However the gun had been emptied so March lives on!

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12 The Case of the Kidnapped Poodle
Opening shot- a diamond.

Headlines announce "Fairways Diamond Stolen - Sir Nigel's Home Robbed." While Insp Ames puzzles over the crime, Col March is talking to young Willie Button, whose dog Motsy has been stolen. (Willie's Cockney accent, "governor," is awfully unconvincing!) "Is this some sort of joke?" complains poor Ames.
At the Fairways Kennels, Ames is calling on owner Sir Nigel (Michael Shepley), not of course about poodles, but to investigate the diamond theft. House guest Mrs Brewster (Doris Nolan) is Ames' chief suspect. Very much in the style of a Col March, he announces dramatically, "there is no such person as Mrs Lionel Brewster!"
"He follows me about like a poodle," complains Mrs Brewster of Ames to Col March. Her theory is that Sir Nigel has stolen his own diamond. When March next encounters Ames, he pulls his leg about Ames' fascination for this American lady.
Sir Nigel has entered his poodle Dubarry, the twin sister of Willy's missing dog, in a poodle show. But Dubarry plays up, and is "eliminated for behaviour." That decides Sir Nigel to sell the wretched poodle. But when he offers the beast to Mrs Brewster, she reveals she is really Miss Potts an insurance investigator (later the script says private eye). A smuggler of diamonds is exposed in the final shoot-out, quite unlike other stories in this series.
March has little to do at the finish, only to reunite Willie with his poodle, and to oversee Ames arrest the correct criminal

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13 The Misguided Missal
Opening shot - an ancient looking book.

An Oxford don Professor Wesley (John Arnatt) claims some spirit is taking possession of a very rare and valuable 1403 prayer book written by the alchemist monk Lucas. "It sounds stupid, I know," he explains to Colonel March that the missal seems to have changed its resting place out of its cask "by some occult move." Fortunately, jokes March in reply, "my department makes a speciality of arresting ghosts." The missal is found and locked away in the casket.
"I have claimed my own," signed Lucas, is the message that Inspector Ames receives, and yes, the missal has gone walkabouts again. This time it cannot be found. March proposes playfully that they search for Lucas. "A devil man didn't steal that book," complains Ames, but March is shown to be at least partially right when he finds the missing missal in Lucas' old college room up a tower. But how did it get in this sealed room? More sinisterly, they also discover a strangled corpse in the room, that of Garrick, who is part of a student love triangle. Surely one of the other two must be guilty- either Ned Young (Anthony Newley) or Nancy (Jane Griffith). Ames makes a speedy "unthinkable" arrest, but can he explain how Ned got into that room? And how does he explain the disappearing missal? March is still convinced it was Lucas! "A preposterous theory" claims Wesley, who has proposed to Nancy himself.
Poor old Inspector Ames enlists the aid of illusionist Mr Chan Canasta to demonstrate events have "a perfectly rational explanation." Nancy places the missal in its casket. Canasta makes the book move over to the bookshelf. Then he explains how the trick is done, "as simple as that."
March however still holds that Lucas, dead for over 500 years, is guilty. Not to be outdone, March proposes an even more difficult trick. "Don't be ridiculous, March!" Nancy places the missal in the prof's safe and locks it. Lo and behold, March produces the missal. Simple really, it's a second copy. This copy had been made by an unscrupulous person so the original could be sold for a fortune. A neat tale

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14 Death and the Other Monkey
Opening shot is (surprise!) a Monkey.

"They've stolen the monkey," announces Col March's visitor, Guy Wallingford. He says it was being used at an experimental station and has been "substituted" for another monkey. His assistants did it because "my experiment was succeeding," he claims.
Guy's two lab assistants are unconvinced by all this, when March calls on them. They are Hans (Victor Platt) and Nell Lawrence (Ann Gudrun) who've just announced their engagement. Maybe this had caused Guy to become "highly strung," Col March is told by the head of the Research Station, Sir George (Percy Marmont).
Investigations convince March that the monkey had indeed been swapped. But for what reason?
A sensational development next day, when Guy commits suicide. He'd gassed himself in his flat. March reads through Guy's unfinished notes on his project, which explored the beneficial use of earth moulds in treating cancer. It's murder, announces March to a sceptical Inspector Ames. How on earth does he work that out? "The original monkey's back in his cage," explains March. "Flim-flam!" retorts Ames.
Back in Guy's room, March catches Hans, searching. "Just what are you doing here?" He says he was trying to find some letters Nell had written to Guy.

To the three scientists, March explains how and why Guy was killed. The answer lies in the two monkeys. "Into the room came the murderer- softly - swiftly - deadly!"
Having explained the How, March turns to the murderer and asks Why? Answer- wanting to take the credit for Guy's discovery.

A neat little tale with Boris Karloff and Ewan Roberts as March and Ames on top form with their banter. John Schlesinger has a minor role as a ship's cook

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15 Death in Inner Space
Opening shot- a large roundish space craft.

You might think this a 21st Century drama as it's about suspended animation and communicating with space creatures. Messages from Mars aren't so believable these days, but in this episode Colonel March says he is waiting for one!
It had all started at the (rather small) Annual Convention for the Society for Interplanetary Communication, which was addressed by Colonel March. His subject: Talking to other Civilisations. "A magnificent speech," congratulates Dr Charles Hodek, inviting the colonel to visit his French chateau to witness his latest experiment.
When the Colonel arrives, he overhears Mme Annette Hodek planning to elope with her lover Philip. He also meets Hodek's assistant Rogel, and Paul Lavois, Hodek's lawyer (Peter Illing) who is more cynical about the work, "Man was made to stay on earth, or else he would have wings."
Now it's time to witness the latest attempt at suspended animation. "I've been in touch with Mars," announces the excited doctor, "they've answered me!" Not intelligible what the message is, as yet, but it gives impetus to his 'Hibernation' experiment. The guinea pig is to be Philip.

Eight o'clock, time to see how the experiment has progressed. "He's dead. Evidently the oxygen failed," explains March. Scream from Mme Hodek.
Paul believes this was no accident and warns Charles he'll be next. "She's trying to kill you." March stands by impassively.
But later, probing round the laboratory he tells Paul he knows how it was done and who did it. "Motives," he tells Paul, "are as common as blackberries." He explains how "someone from Mars" did it. Well at least a message from there triggered the whole event. To ensure March doesn't expose all, he is locked with Lavois in the airtight laboratory, "looks as though we're about to join Philip," jokes March. "I'm waiting for a message from Mars," he adds mysteriously. This is turning into a forerunner for Armchair Theatre!
But March is released just in time, and immediately does his duty. The murderer finally confesses.
No sign of Inspector Goron, and Insp Ames is also absent
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16 The Devil Sells his Soul
Opening shot- the face of Dracula.

"In Loving memory of the Third Baron, Lord Telford" reads a floral tribute at his funeral, taken by a priest (Alfred Burke), who "goes on and on."
All these live at Telford's behest in his ancestral castle and look frightfully suspicious: Cousin Gary Horton (Patrick Barr), Emily Horton (Ann Hanslip), Jane Corwin (Patricia Laffan), George (Basil Appleby) and Dr John Walker (Michael Alexander). They all had "good reasons for wanting him dead." The first of these stands to inherit the title and castle. George is an impoverished painter who had painted Telford in the appropriate guise of Mephistopheles.
Though Walker had pronounced death due to natural causes, an autopsy shows that he died of strychnine poisoning. Emily requests Colonel March reconstruct the night of Lord Telford's death.
With dagger in hand, Colonel March plays the role of Lord Telford, as the five people agree to be hypnotised by him. Emily herself, in love with George, tries to make her beloved retract a confession. The doctor administers Telford's usual dosage of one grain of strychnine. Jane is seen to drop a pill into his lordship's drink. Ames, sceptical of the whole operation, promptly arrests her. "He deserved to die," is her response.
Naturally this is a blunder. March address the other four, still in a trance, his remarks directed especially to the murderer, who must be feigning to be hypnotised. This one who is play acting directs a gun at March. The killer kindly explains why Telford had to be killed. By a neat trick switching the clock, the others overhear this confession

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17 Error at Daybreak
Opening shot - A rubber ball

Relaxing on holiday on the beach, Colonel March helps young Roger (Richard O'Sullivan) when the lad informs March that his ball's been stolen. Good-humouredly, the Colonel asks some adults nearby. "Perhaps it rolled into the water," suggests businessman Norman Kane (Lloyd Lamble). Bob Hastings, his doctor, and Marion his secretary watch Kane go in for a swim, but a sudden heart attack and Norman's dead.
Hastings says that the body is in too awkward a position to move, but before Inspector Ames and local policeman Supt Morgan (Kenneth Edwards uncredited) arrive, it has disappeared.
March questions Norman's companions. Hastings gets upset and admits to March that Marion is an expert rifle shot, and they had been practising on the beach. A cleaning rod from a rifle has been spotted by March aside the body.
"Norman didn't have a bad heart at all," deduces March to the astonished Ames. While March irritatingly plays with a toy gun and soldiers, Ames gets a trifle worked up, "will you stop playing that blasted game?!"
Ames tells March he had been on the point of arresting Norman, for he was a well-known swindler.
Enter Roger. Kind Col March is pleased to tell him he's found that missing ball. But oh no, Roger has found the real one. It had been stuck between two rocks, near where Norman's body had lain. Mark questions another suspect, Roger's nanny Miss Clara Turner (Adrienne Corri) who had been Norman's lover.
So who killed Norman? At a boathouse where the lovers were to rendezvous, March poses as the dead man to trap the killer. But the dead man isn't dead at all. Roger's ball had cleverly been used to feign death. Simple really.
"I understand you, Colonel, how did you find out?" Answer, "because the greedy are usually mean as well. He couldn't resist the temptation of stealing so small a thing as a rubber ball"

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18 The Invisible Knife
Opening shot- a parrot

Colonel March is testing out a bullet-proof jacket. Inspector Ames scoffs, such things are not needed in Britain!
The widely travelled Basil Pennacott (Hubert Gregg), "the murderer," calls at his office. Having had five separate business partners all of whom mysteriously died, "no proof" against Pennacott was ever found. But now he is actually seeking police protection, since "someone's trying to kill me." Yesterday, in the post he'd even received a poisoned parrot!
Ames isn't at all pleased with such a request to help a dubious character, but Basil warns him "cast the first mote out of your own eye." "Ecclesiastes 12:16," explains March, erroneously.
Nevertheless he's intrigued. He examines the dead parrot, which might have come from a Mr Hays, who owns a pet shop, as Edmund Hays, his brother, had been one of Pennacott's partners, before being stabbed. Edmund had been killed by "an invisible murderer with an invisible knife." Apparently some occult killing in which he had attempted to summon the devil.
March is round to the shop like a flash! Hays (Leslie Weston) admits he'd willingly kill Basil. Alice Hays his daughter is worried that he might succeed. March warns him not to take the law into his own hands and promises to investigate Edmund's death. His dying word had been a request for water.
March demonstrates to Basil, Hayes and his daughter, plus Inspector Ames of course, what happened. He chalks an octagon on the floor of the sealed room. Observes Penncott, "you have a flair for the dramatic, Colonel."
Now they're left alone, Basil promises he's going to kill March. He'd been worried all along that March might just have had the skill to expose him. Basil produces his weapon, a knife of ice. Thank goodness March had purchased that jacket!

A dull story, directed by Terence Fisher, with a few motifs found in his later Hammer horrors

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19 The Stolen Crime
Opening shot- An old coin

Peter Ridgway (a young Glyn Houston) demands Inspector Ames arrest him! He claims it's the only way to stop him. He's going to kill his invalid wife. The phlegmatic Ames' response, "I dare say quite a lot of husbands have had that in mind!"
Ridgway claims he has bought a weed killer that he's going to use on Edna, his older wife. It will be the perfect crime as the liquid is undetectable. But all Ames does is "throw him out." "Do you think that was wise?" queries Colonel March sagely, when he's told about the incident.
Heiress Dies, read the newspaper headlines. March and Ames travel to Herefordshire to visit the home of Edna's late father Hiram Douglas, who had once been an eminent collector of Roman coins. Miss Douglas (Amy Dalby), Edna's aunt, confides to March that her cacti are "grieving" for Edna.
"She's better off dead," she adds, apparently in reference to Edna's dislike of all cacti. Adds Miss Douglas, Peter is being pursued by a "witch," by the name of Miss Jennifer Lane. Col March treats it all as though quite normal. Inspector Ames' cake, however, goes down the wrong way. Her revelations continue as she accuses the witch of stealing a letter Edna had written to Scotland Yard. There was some sort of coin inside it.
Peter Ridgway denies killing his wife. She died from natural causes after a party, he says. "Quite a coincidence," remarks March.
The policemen discuss the case. Ames is all for arresting Ridgway of course. The whole place is like "a lunatic asylum." Agrees March, "this is a very peculiar household."
In Lady Edna's bedroom, March discovers her bedside reading was a book on Roman coins. A specially made brand of cigarette is being used as a bookmark.
At 2am March makes an examination of Hiram Douglas' collection of coins. Some of the best ones have been "removed." Then he is coshed on the head. "I thought it was a burglar," apologizes Ridgway.
At last Inspector Ames is able to pounce! "Mr Ridgway, I arrest you...." But March cuts him short, as usual. By a simple ruse he gets the killer to reveal their identity. Edna's cigarettes have yielded the vital clue.

Note: the Douglas aunt is named Josephine, while Jennifer is played by actress Josephine Douglas

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20 The Missing Link
Opening shot- a skull

At the Danier Museum a thief nicks the Damascus Man, popularly known as The Missing Link, "crucial to the theory of evolution." The nightwatchman shoots at the intruder(!), but his female accomplice gets away.
Sir Henry Danier knows who is the crook, chemist Tom Grafton, so he guesses the other must be his girl friend Evelyn Innes (Helen Cherry), who had recently been sacked from her job at the museum. Hardly surprising, since she had called Sir Henry a fraud.
Col March puzzles over why anyone should steal the Missing Link skull. Evelyn bursts in to answer that one: "because the age is not great, but the value is." She claims it's a fake but explains she knows nothing of the whereabouts of the skull as although she and Tom had broken in intending to steal it, they had found it already gone!
"I don't quite know what I believe," pronounces March, though Ames does! He becomes quite worked up when March allows Tom and Evelyn to walk away free. "We are fishing in deep waters, Ames, and we may wind up with some very odd fish in our net!"
March learns more about the age of skulls from the curator Braden (Joseph Tomelty), who also relates how he and Danier had found the precious skull on an expedition in Syria during which the third member, Derwent, had been killed in a landslide. Later, March receives a note from Miss Innes inviting him to the museum at 9pm, when she will tell all. But she doesn't show up. Instead March and Ames are locked in the workroom. "Do you smell anything?" Gas oozes into the sealed room. "One chance," Ames has the invidious task of getting help by the dubious method of cracking the safe to trigger the alarm! Success- not only is help forthcoming, but hidden inside the safe is that unauthentic skull.
Evelyn is "arrested again," but she had not written that invitation. Tom exonerates her with conclusive proof that the Damascus Man is a fake. As Derwent's skull is not in his grave, police race to arrest the guilty party.

Comment: presumably as the skull is not genuine, ergo the theory of evolution must collapse

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21 Murder is Permanent
Opening Shot- A Pair of Scissors.

"I can almost smell out a crime before it happens," quips Colonel March. It's the death of old Mrs Greer, once the toast of London Society ("in the reign of the first Elizabeth?" queries Inspector Ames).
It started with Ames visiting Mrs Greer. He had been greeted by Mary the maid who warned him "anything can happen in this house." Mrs Greer jointly runs a beauty salon with daughter-in-law Johanna (Elspet Gray), who is recovering from typhoid. (There's a clue there.) Mrs Greer has called the police in because her dog has twice nearly been poisoned.
March and Ames visit this salon ("a place to defy time") where Mrs Greer is found stabbed right through to the heart. She seems to have a lot of enemies, these are: ex-plastic surgeon Joseph Latour, manager of the shop who is facing the sack if Mrs Greer discovers his past. Paul Shelford (Patrick Holt) the chief masseur, is in love with Annette who'd "like to break" Mrs Greer's neck.
Joanne, who will inherit the business certainly has the motive, but as she was being treated in a "permanent waving machine" how could she have got out of it long enough to commit the crime? As the scissors are Annette's, and as she was the last to see the deceased alive, it looks black for her.
March predicts a surfeit of confessions, and as ever he is right! He starts the ball rolling by getting the papers to print that he has received a confession- only he hasn't.
Joseph commits suicide. He claims to have done the old woman in.
Confession Two follows. Paul says he stabbed her, using the scissors.
Confession Three comes from Annette, because she says Paul is making all that up, to protect her. With all Mrs Greer's taunts, Annette says she could stand it no longer. "He's my husband," she admits dramatically.
Then Joanna reveals that Joseph had been cooking the books. He certainly had the opportunity. But Colonel March, having listened to it all, reveals whodunnit

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22 Present Tense
Opening shot- A wine glass and a cigarette.

Emily (Mary Parker) turns her head away in horror to avert her eyes from her husband Ernest's plane crashing.
"There were no survivors," the rather tactless Dr Brandeis (John Laurie) informs her. She believes that she killed him, because she had ordered Ernest, her fanatical spiritualist husband to return from America.
With Emily that fateful day had been Gordon, who is cataloguing the family library. He says she is "all frozen up inside."
Uncle comes visiting. 'Uncle' is Colonel March! He commiserates. She still blames herself. She'd been so rich she feels she had stopped his budding career as an artist. "I think we understand each other better now." One eyebrow of the Colonel is raised just slightly. Gordon comments on Mary's belief that her husband is still alive.
That night March asks Emily what she means, talking about her late husband in the present tense. She claims to have heard Ernest's voice. He said he forgave her. Then she had heard him playing the piano. Then last evening "he asked me to join him out there." Lydia the maid (Doris Hare) says she has heard the ghost too!
While the house slumbers, March explores the sleeping building. When he spots a cut telephone wire, he is knocked unconscious. So he misses the latest bout of piano playing. Emily creeps downstairs and there sitting at the piano is Ernest (Peter Reynolds)! Rather obviously, he explains he hadn't been on the fateful plane. As he continues playing on the piano, he tells her there will be No Divorce- he loves her money too much! Indeed he has a plan for "disposing" of her. Suicide. March had spotted his cigarette, but he is now out of the way. Now Mary has to be killed- "if the spirit's weak, the body is more than willing!" He moves towards her with the poison in a glass. But is Colonel March really out of the way? No sir. Enter the Colonel, just in time, to slap the handcuffs on. All without any aid from Inspector Ames

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23 The Silent Vow
Opening shot- a bottle of Carcazon. No Inspector Ames in this Paris-based tale.

Madeleine (Zena Marshall), a chanteuse, starts this off in a Paris cafe, with a tuneless song, typical of so many Fifties B films of the era.
It seems to send Inspector Goron and Colonel March to snoozing, as they disuss their differing methods of criminal detection. But their happiness is marred by imbibing a glass of delectable Carcazon brandy, which is "just a shade off."
Madeleine is the centre of attention of two customers, who actually turn out to be monks! One of them, Philippe, suddenly dies, poisoned. He had once been a monk at the very monastery where Carcazon is made.
Time for March and Goron to test the efficacy of each other's investigative skills. First suspicious character is Gaston, the waiter (Marne Maitland). He used to be a chemist before he was banned from practising.
No.2 is Madeleine herself, "not very cooperative" under Goron's questioning.
No.3 is another monk Francois (Anton Diffring), the one who had been quarrelling with Philippe that evening. He has disappeared. Goron finds him in the isolated monastery, a silent order. Francois is apparently mourning his dead friend. His vow of perpetual silence makes it hard to talk to him! But March persuades him to at least give an indication of his "guilt or innocence." A shake of the head.
Suspicious character No 4 is Dupont the cafe manager (Martin Benson). The cunning Colonel produces the bottle Phillipe had been drinking- would Dupont care for a drop? The manager eyes March, thinking. He takes it. It does taste a little odd. They descend to the cellar where March tells Dupont he knows all about his financial difficulties. That brings Dupont to offering March a return toast, drugged of course. Dupont explains how and why he did the murder before Goron, who of course has arrested the wrong suspect, helpfully arrives to overhear it all, "you were a little late inspector."
Finally Goron and March ponder over who is the better detective

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24 The Silver Curtain
Opening shot- a dagger. (As with the last story, there's no Inspector Ames)
In Deauville, Col March is at the tables observing a shifty looking gambler called Davos (Anton Diffring), "the way you seem to win, almost at will," observes the colonel. "None of your business," retorts Davos, who is a jewel thief. To a down-on-his-luck JerryWinton, an American (Arthur Hill), Davos offers half a million francs. "Who do I have to kill?" asks Winton. Finally eight hundred thousand francs clinches a deal.
Winton agrees to meet up with Davos in the Rue des Phares, but here he stumbles over is Davos' body with a knife in his back. Only witnesses are Winton, the owner of the nearby house Dr Edouard Hebert and his secretary. Inspector Goron questions Winton in his own methodical way, while polishing his fingernails. But Winton claims he has a witness to his transaction with Davos, which, when he learns it is Colonel March, brings forth a hearty guffaw from Goron. But not from Winton, when March says he does not remember anything.
But March does tell Goron he had been observing Davos. Either Davos had second sight at the tables, or he was fiddling it. He admits he lied about Winton, "to protect Davos, so that I could study him." When March learns Davos is dead, he comes clean and even helps Goron by examining the scene of the crime. After feigning illness with the bemused Hebert, Martch demonstrates to Goron how the crime had been committed. Goron makes his arrest, "he's for Madame Guillotine," he adds in his laconic way
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25 The Strange Event At Roman Fall
Opening shot- a crowbar.

Mrs Rune (Rachel Kempson) has just bought Cliffside House, which stands close by Roman Fall, a 350ft high cliff.
At the nearby Fishermen's Arms, a holidaying Col March happens to overhear her in conversation with her lover Johnny Hamilton (Philip Friend). He's trying to persuade her to tell her husband about their affair. Also watching is reporter Peter Ford and Ben Crowder (Lionel Murton). March waylays film promoter Ben, who explains he is searching for Stanley Rune in order to give him a million bucks. He wants to promote Rune's books and get them filmed. But where is the "greatest mystery man of our day"? He offers March money if he can locate Stanley Rune.
Mrs Rune phones the police from Cliffside with the dreadul news that her husband has fallen over the cliff. Ben tells her he saw what really happened and, to the background of American sounding police sirens, blackmails her into signing his million dollar contract.
Later John faces her with what really happened. "Oh darling," she pleads, "don't ask me any more questions."
But March has plenty! He's puzzled why Rune should have jumped over the cliff, when this big contract is now his. Even more odd, is Ben's description of the missing Stanley, which is at variance with Mrs Rune's. March as usual, gathers them all in-
Ford, the journalist, who has written an article claiming he witnessed the suicide.
Crowder, who has a crowbar hidden in his suitcase.
John Hamilton, who has confessed to killing Stanley after a quarrel.
Mrs Rune, "you're not telling me the truth," March warns her.
March proves that it was the crowbar that broke down the fence by the cliff and sifts through all those red herrings. "Where is the real Stanley Rune?" asks a baffled Inspector Ames at the end. But the conclusion is quite happy really, for Mrs Rune has now become Mrs Hamilton

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26 The Talking Head
Opening shot- a large bust

At March's Club shushing is the order of the day when Dr Ivy (Hugh Griffith) actually has the temerity to burst in shouting out Colonel March's name. He's so excited he's found "a stamp that no collector ever dreamed existed" from the year 764BC. He also tries to intrigue March with a story about one of his patients, Harold Hartley (Hugh Williams), whom a twelve year old boy is trying to kill. Just then a telephone call explains Hartley has had another accident.

March finds Hartley recovering in bed. Dr Ivy reckons the boy Andrew Barton (Peter Asher) must be jealous because his mum is planning to get married to this Hartley. Certainly these accidents had started after their engagement had been announced. Andrew has even admitted to wanting to see his new stepdad killed, because "his father told him to." Is Andrew's dead first dad John sending him messages from the other world? Or maybe he is not dead, as had been supposed?
Barton had been a scientist. In his lab March looks for clues and conveniently overhears Andrew talking to the bust of his dead father which is kept in there. Even more incredible, the bust replies! "A few drops in his drink at tea tomorrow will be enough." (The voice sounds rather like Karloff's to me!)
Tea time sees Dr Ivy gloating over his precious stamp. Peter helps serve the drinks. Hartley starts to sip his glass of milk when March nonchalantly knocks it from his hand, "so sorry!" It's time for some home truths. Says Andrew, "somebody killed my father. I know it because he told me himself."
March organises a gathering in the lab. Barton's bust speaks again, but this time the voice sounds like Inspector Ames'. It's a witty little trick by Colonel March who informs Peter "who told you to do it, and how it was done." And after the revelations, Dr Ivy comments ,"it doesn't make sense." He could be right. But March has a final blow for the perplexed doctor, his priceless stamp is definitely a fake!

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