The detectives seen in Scotland Yard
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TV Crime Menu
THE DRAYTON CASE (1953- release date March 23rd.)
With John Le Mesurier as Supt Henley.
"Have you ever murdered anyone?" asks a playful Edgar as he highlights that age-old problem: "what do you do with the body?" Christmas Eve 1941, during the blitz was a pretty useful time to dispose of a corpse.
In the cellar of a bombed schoolhouse in 1944, a skeleton is uncovered. "The murderer always overlooks something," declares Edgar, stating the obvious. A pathologist spots that this corpse has a fractured larynx, so can't have been a victim of Hitler's bombers. Supt Henley is given more details on this 40 to 45 year old woman, height about 5 feet, wearing a dental plate, hair colour brown going gray. "Is that all?" he asks hopefully.
Henley's first task is identify the woman. At the Missing Persons Registry one candidate matches the description- Elizabeth Drayton., missing for two and a half years. Husband Charles(Victor Platt) is eventually traced, but he "don't care" about his wife no more. But it's surely not a coincidence he stopped paying her maintenance around the time of her likely death. He does look guilty, though Henley throws a note of caution, "my wife's always nagging me about money, but I haven't murdered her!"
The caretaker of the old school remembers a fire in the cellar caused by arsonists on Christmas Eve 1941. Charlie Drayton was the firewatcher who tried to put it out before finally calling the fire brigade. Henley speculates on the probable scenario in a flashback. But facing arrest, Drayton flees. He's spotted at the underground. With the platform crammed with refugees from the bombs, he's chased up an emergency exit and into the arms of Supt Henley.... no- he turns and tumbles down the steps. "better get an ambulance."
Edgar concludes with speculation on why Drayton killed his wife, "not a very intelligent man," he decides. This is a very basic story but some clever camera shots help turn this into a quite classy little film.
Scotland Yard Menu
THE MISSING MAN
(1953 - released July 20th)
The Neil Case written and directed by Ken Hughes.
Rather unusual case, with hints of the paranormal, "never satisfactorily solved," a vicar doing most of the sleuthing!
The Yard is represented by Inspector Johnson, though it's Supt Wainwright and Insp Rogers who wrap the case up.
Spring 1938 - Gerald Neil's parents come to visit their engineer son in London. He's not at his digs.
His landlady says he was called away to Paris "on urgent business." A "dark friend" had called later to collect his belongings.
With £3,000 transferred from his English bank to his French account, he's probably enjoying himself! The Surete are contacted by the Yard and his father Rev John Neil (Tristan Rawson) spends his savings in his search in the French capital. Friendly relations with the French law are established at the outset:
"Bonjour," commences the English policeman. The Frenchman of course speak viz ze French English: "'E vizdraws all 'is monnay.... oui... Monsieur Neil." Case seems closed.
After a futile three week search, the vicar returns to his Highgate flat. "I can't help feeling he's in some sort of trouble," he declares in an understatement. Then Neil's mother has a dream. In negative, she sees a gnarled tree at a farm, destroyed by fire. Her son is dragged to a well and thrown down it.
John follows the vision up.
He meets a friend of his son, Peter, who had been due to "pop across" to Paris with Gerald that fateful day. Neil never turned up.
Conclusion: someone took his place. The vicar learns of Neil's business friend, small time criminal James Wilson, who lived at Oaktree Farm, Oldbury Kent. He had been arrested for arson at this farm but in resisting arrest had committed suicide.
The vicar visits the rubble of this now deserted farm,
uncannily like his wife's dream, and then summons the Yard.
The well is excavated and the inevitable follows. The vicar sadly identifies his son's remains.
Even Edgar Lustgarten says he can't explain this story. "Whether Wilson murdered Neil or not, nobody was ever able to prove it."
(Note- Katharine Page as the landlady is billed here as Kathleen Paige.)
Scotland Yard Menu
THE CANDLELIGHT MURDER (1953)
(The Bramlington Murder)
featuring Gerald Case as Chief Supt Carron, with a little assistance from Sgt John Baker. Also with Supt Rawson of the Sussex police (Jack Lambert).
Script and direction by Ken Hughes.
The narrator says the story "might have been from Edgar Alan Poe." Edgar describes this notorious April 1937 case and threatens a surprise "in a nice quiet little spot in Sussex."
The village of Bramlington has 2,000 inhabitants, a pub "and of course a police station."
No "of course" about it these days!
In a culvert is found a corpse, battered about the head by "the proverbial blunt instrument."
Dead for at least a week. So who was he? "Not a very salubrious sort of chap," but identification is problematic, as most traces of identity have been removed, his face had been bashed in.
The local detective thinks he must be single as his clothes are poorly darned! Clothing from a shop in Horsham six miles away is a clue, but gets nowhere.
Forensic evidence suggests he had been dragged downstream. On his clothes are traces of a fine metal powder, which was
supplied to James Parrish, the local blacksmith.
Possibly the dead man is old Sam Thomas, "he's a bit peculiar altogether," though he's only been missing a couple of days. The local bobby knows Tom was alive
until recently as on his rounds he heard him playing the organ in his isolated shack. The vicar confirms he'd spoken to him recently too. However neither of them had actually seen the old man. A plaster cast reconstruction of the face proves beyond doubt that he was the victim.
Upstream from where the corpse was found are discovered deep footprints, by the bottom of Tom's garden! The prints are those of Joe Hawkins
(Denis Shaw) who admits fishing in the vicinity.
The police explore Tom's isolated home. The floor's been "scrubbed!" There's also a box of candles, only one left.
Inspector Carron reconstructs a possible scenario. Rawson asks:" why should anyone want to bump off a harmless old man?"
The answer must be that he was looking for something.
The rumour of old Tom's fortune is an attractive theory. The used candles support the idea that the murderer has been
looking for the treasure each night. The police await his Final Visit. He's promptly arrested.
Later the 'treasure' is found, sovereigns worth a mere £6, hidden in the very candlestick that knocked out the old man
Scotland Yard Menu
THE BLAZING CARAVAN (1953 - cinema release date Feb. 15th 1954)
The CASE AGAINST GEORGE BUXTON
briefly featuring Alan Robinson as Supt Ellis.
A stylish thriller with a novel approach written and directed by Ken Hughes. The enthusiastic Edgar Lustgarten is on top form.
"The Almost Perfect Murder" states the announcer, it would have been the Perfect One, Edgar continues, except for "a trifling oversight."
This 1938 case began at 3am on a lonely road near Edgware, a blazing caravan. In the ashes is later found a briefcase with the label George Buxton 69 Prescott Road Clapham. A motor cyclist had talked to a man running away from the conflagration, a "big fat chap." A charred appointment book is also discovered, not quite destroyed by the blaze, which includes one name Arthur Cox of "24 Monnery Road Tufnell Park, N19". (This, unlike Buxton's address, is a real road.) Too late, the killer remembers that he had left that inside the caravan.
Arthur Cox (Alexander Gauge- the description does seem to fit) is now staying at the Royal Court Hotel by the sea at Shingleton. He's just won the pools and takes his £30,000 cheque to the local bank (in reality a bank near to Merton Park Studios, as we see two shots of Rothesay Avenue SW20, once with a London bus in the background!).
So when the police call at Arthur's lodgings he's not there. In a flashback, narrated by Edgar as though talking to the killer, we learn how Arthur Cox was cleverly murdered by travelling rep Buxton. After celebrating his pools win at Ye Olde Leather Bottel, the inebriated Cox had been escorted home by Buxton to be murdered to the accompaniment of Edgar's dry commentary. Cox was then placed in the caravan and George Buxton had taken on Cox's persona, plus of course his cheque.
Edgar now reaches his juicy moment- the one thing Buxton has overlooked! It's an inadvertant slip in fact. A Ted Holloway had a signed agreement stating he and Cox were to go 50-50 on any winnings. Holloway complains to the police and when Buxton alias Cox calls at the bank to collect his money he's arrested.
Note - uncredited is Howard Lang as a publican
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THE DARK STAIRWAY
(1953 - release date April 12th 1954)
The Greek Street Murder
Story and direction by Ken Hughes
Inspector Jack Harmer (Russell Napier), assisted by Sgt Gifford (Vincent Ball).
(Harmer has a jolly but patronising attitude to his "junior" calling him also "my lad,"sonny" etc).
Soon after midnight on Friday 4th January 1952, there occurred the murder of Harry Carpenter, "small time criminal and petty gangster," who as Edgar poetically informs us, was "a man without a future."
We hear him shouting to his killer, calling him Joe. Old Mrs Morris overhears the argument, then on the stairway, sees a blind man crouching
over a man, stabbed to death.
In Harry's flat police discover the picture of Molly (Gene Anderson). Edgar tells us that Carpenter had been a "Squeaker," testifying against Joseph Lloyd (Edwin Richfield), his partner in
a mail bag robbery. Lloyd had recently been released from jail.
Hidden in a toilet cistern in Nic's Social Club, Inspector Harmer finds the murder weapon, and he can prove Lloyd had been to the loo there on the night of the murder! But there are no fingerprints on the knife,
so he needs more proof. And he still has to find Lloyd. One of those hunches leads him to Brixton and a fellow lag of Lloyd's, who puts him in the direction of Molly, who is a night club singer. Harmer and Gifford don't appear to enjoy searching for her in Charlie's Club
and numerous other low spots of London life.
"My feet are killing me!" is the complaint. At last she is found, and skulking with her is Lloyd.
Blind man George Benson who was at the killing couldn't possibly be much use as an eyewitness.
There follows "one of the strangest identity parades ever enacted within the walls of any British police station." Benson succeeds in identifying Lloyd, but it's not done visually of course.
The "sweet smell like scent" that Lloyd uses and his voice lead to "Lloyd's blurted confession."
Note - the use of negative pictures to show a blind man's perception of murder isn't innovative, but it's impressively done by director Ken Hughes
To Scotland Yard Menu
LATE NIGHT FINAL (1953 - cinema release date- Sept 13th 1954)
The Burrage Case
featuring Colin Tapley as Det Insp Turner, with John Wynn as Sgt Conway
The story of The Man Who Died Twice. Edgar points out two unique facets of the case - 1 that police were looking for the dead man before he was murdered, and 2
more than one person was brought to justice for more than one crime.
Joe, an old newspaper vendor witnesses a warehouse raid. At a police identity parade, clearly fearing reprisals, he fails to identify the criminals, and promptly disappears from his pitch. A police constable calls at his digs, which has been ransacked, and discovers a suitcase
of clothing, but it's not Joe's. Who does it belong to?
When a body is found on the marshes Insp Turner plays a hunch. There seems to be no connection with his case as the corpse is aged about 36, whilst
Joe must have been nearly 60. But a laundry van is found with bloodstains of the same group as that of the dead man. A search is made for the van driver, Woolland (Richard Shaw). At his home, under floorboards, is discovered
more clothing, This time it is Joe's. In his pockets is a is a London Transport Left Luggage Office ticket, where a suitcase is found, that a laboratory expert (James Villiers uncredited in his first screen role) states is cocaine.
More investigation, and the leader of these drug dealers, who's also the corpse on the marshes, is a Richard Crawford. It was the old story of
baddies falling out amongst themselves.
So how does this tie in with the disappearance of Joe Burrage? Edgar explains all
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FATAL JOURNEY (1954)
The Case of Norma Preston
Script: James Eastwood. Director: Paul Gherzo.
Featuring Gordon Bell as Chief Inspector Durrant, with local police (Lloyd Lamble).
A well constructed story of "no ordinary crime," that commences one dull autumn evening in an isolated house in Tembridge as Mr Preston has "a terrible homecoming." He finds his wife with her skull fractured on the floor.
Edgar recounts two other seemingly unrelated incidents on that day.... The 2.31 train ends its journey at London Bridge. One passenger doesn't alight- but he's not dead, he just stares, "like a dummy 'e is." A policeman takes him away to the police station where he's diagnosed as having amnesia. The other event is at Mr Potter's shop- Steve, a gipsy (a not convincing Peter Halliday), steals some of his merchandise. Police find the stolen goods in his caravan. Steve admits he had been selling beads door to door, and evidence proves he had called at the Preston home.
It appears Mrs Preston had been attacked for a mere £1 note so, Edgar rather dramatically declares- "a human beast was abroad, but had gone unrecognised." Mrs Preston finally dies in hospital uttering the enigmatic words "I'm sorry...."
The pound note is found on the gipsy's person. He claims Mr Preston was at home. In a flashback we see him enter the house via the back door and find the £1 in the kitchen. He's interrupted by "an oldish man, about 50." It could even be Preston.
Trawling through the Yard records, it emerges Mrs Preston had featured as Mrs X, the anonymous victim in a blackmail case. Goff had been found guilty and sentenced to four years and he'd just been released. That's who our amnesia victim is, and Inspector Durrant carts him off to the Yard. An identity parade that includes Goff and Preston awaits the gipsy. He walks along the line.... and picks out..... an innocent bystander. So Goff has to be released and it becomes a waiting game for Inspector Durrant as he tails the ex-prisoner hoping he will give himself away. He's watched as he stays at a Salvation Army hostel, then walks to a bench by the river, "he's waiting for something," declares one observer. Finally Goff makes his move. At the Lost Property Office, 7 Belgrave Road, he collects his suitcase. In it is a blunt instrument, the murder weapon. A wig explains why Steve failed to identify him.
For his coda, Edgar gives us his explanation as to why Goff adopted this charade in his vain attempt to elude the law. He speculates also on Mr Preston's "enigmatic" role.
Note- the "suburban" train is unusually steam locomotive hauled (no. 80010)
Scotland Yard Menu
THE STRANGE CASE OF BLONDIE (1954)
(although not stated, this would have been called The Curtis Case.)
featuring Russell Napier as Dt Inspector Harmer.
"It's hard for an old lag to learn new tricks of the trade," explains Edgar. To illustrate his point, he describes the notorious career from 1926-1938 of Flannelfoot.
And so we come to Blondie (Lee Sinclaire) who conducted numerous robberies "without changing her routine one iota." This was:
1. Select a quiet house
2. In the afternoon, call to conduct a survey
3. Having "cased the joint," return "at a more convenient hour."
However for once a robbery goes wrong when Curtis, a retired antique dealer is brutally attacked. A taxi driver happens to have spotted a woman leaving in a hurry- she was about 25, blonde and wore a beret. It's obviously Blondie again. But although she's suspected of at least 40 robberies, just who is she?
Inspector Harmer's first lead occurs when some of Curtis' jewellery is pawned- by a man! He spots a pattern in Blondie's robberies across the country, "a sort of Crook's Tour!" Meticulous scanning of local newspapers suggests the link is a touring show The Hollywood Way, which has travelled this week to... you've guessed it.... Wimbledon! Cue an exotic dancer on stage: "nothing objectionable in this show." Star is Eddie Leroy, but the taxi driver and pawnbroker are unable to identify any sign of Blondie in the cast. But maybe Eddie is the man who had pawned the jewels.
By now you've probably put two and two together though Insp Harmer isn't quite on the ball as yet.
Some more jewellery is pawned, this time in the Strand. It's Blondie! Quick thinking enables the police to tail her as she boards a 77A bus south along Whitehall, "that goes to Wimbledon, doesn't it?" Blondie returns to the theatre. "Once they're inside that theatre we'll have the pair of them, her and Leroy." Harmer swoops but no sign of Blondie, of course. Finally the penny drops.
Despite a rather obvious solution, there's plenty of showbiz fun in this case. Edgar concludes with the rather predictable "Eddie Leroy had given his last performance."
THE SILENT WITNESS (1953)
The Stafford Case with Kenneth Henry as Supt Daker
Looking rather sombre, Edgar informs us of the 999 service, and in particular one 999 call back in the spring of 1938 which contained the startling confession "I've killed someone. I've killed my wife."
In that familiar film car UML 557 (which surely would not have been around in 1938!), the police zoom off to the house of Frederick Stafford (Ivan Craig) in order to cart him off to the station. Edgar explains that Stafford's wife had been an invalid with a bad heart. After an argument about money Stafford had lost his temper and had accidentally caused her to fall.
"Instinctively" the super feels he hasn't had the whole truth. The dead woman's sister in Balham says Fred "couldn't bear anyone about the place" preferring to take care of his wife himself. Local shopkeepers state he wasn't a big spender, buying only the necessities, not luxuries, but then why did he regularly withdraw £40 a week (a lot in those days!) out of the income of his small bookshop? Apparently he had "no vices", yet did his wife die in an accident, as he claims?
All rather mundane thus far, until we meet young Miss Price, his assistant at his shop. Could she be 'the other woman'? Another oddity also perks up our interest: in prison awaiting trial, Stafford is very insistent his house isn't sold. Time for Supt Daker to play a hunch and order Sgt Blake (Patricia Driscoll) to check up on Miss Price. Her lifestyle certainly seems on the expensive side. Blake overhears her talking about her future marriage to a Mr Roberts. Roberts is none other than Stafford!
Now Daker conducts a search of Stafford's home, surely rather late in the day! There's a corpse in the attic tank. It transpires it is that of a window cleaner, who had accidentally witnessed Stafford killing his wife. In a flashback all is revealed.
Edgar's postscript solemnly tells us that Stafford never did return to that home.
PASSENGER TO TOKYO (1954)
The Forbes Murder, in August 1953.
With Kenneth Henry as Superintendent Ross.
The Case known as the Tokyo Trunk Murder began in Yokohama Harbour, when the 20,000 ton liner Monarch of the Orient arrived in port. Disembarking was Edward Phillips (Peter Bathurst), and one of his trunks is opened by customs. In it is a
mutilated corpse. He claims it's not his trunk.
The "admirable police force" in Britain is contacted in the shape of Supt Ross who flies the 3,500 miles to Japan.
Tests show the disfigured corpse is a 40 year old European woman who had been strangled about 10 weeks ago, about the time the ship left Britain. Edgar sums up for latecomers:
"Identity of the victim? - Unknown.
Motive for murder? - Unknown.
Scene of the crime? - Unknown."
The trunk is returned to England where an examination reveals the initials GHW hidden away. Says Ross pessimistically, "there can't be more than a million people with the initials GHW."
A secondhand shop in Paddington provides a lead. Mrs Pearson describes the man who purchased this trunk. He wore yellow gloves, the same as a person posing as Phillips' manservant who had brought the trunk to the shipping office.
Examination of the corpse shows there had been a cardiac operation a few years ago. This leads the police to Miss Elsie Forbes a teacher of Belsize Park. She had retired, since she had inherited
£20,000, which she had deposited in a South African bank, and she had sailed in August on the Urania, with a Miss Somers sharing her cabin.
Now Ross flies to Cape Town, or as Edgar puts it, "the long arm of the law was stretching out." Miss Somers tells of the voyage on which she'd fallen for a Geoffrey Craig, who had, oddly, turned out to be married to Miss Forbes. "It just didn't seem to make sense," she concludes.
Edgar poetically describes Ross' thoughts as he travels to confront Craig and his wife, in this fascinating tale of detection
These inspectors feature in more than one story (numbers refer to the story number)-
In 5 and 8 Russell Napier is Inspector Harmer while in 17, 18, 19, 22 , 25, 26, 28 , 30, 31,
33, 34 , 36, 37 Russell Napier plays Inspector Duggan (a total of 13 stories).
The next most active actor is in 24, 27 and 29 in which John Warwick plays Supt. Reynolds.
Gerald Case (Inspector Carron) appears in two- 3 and 11.
So does Geoffrey Keen in 32 and 35 but with different names: Supt. Graham/Carter.
Similarly in 9 Kenneth Henry is Inspector Baker, while in
10 he is Inspector Ross.
In 21 Ronald Adam, in 23 Dennis Castle and in 38 Harry H. Corbett all feature as Inspector
Other police officials in charge of cases only make one appearance each:
in 1 is John Le Mesurier (Supt. Henley),
in 6- Colin Tapley (Inspector Turner),
in 7- Gordon Bell (Inspector Durrant),
in 12- Frank Leighton (Inspector Parry),
in 13- Robert Raglan (Inspector Dexter),
in 14- Ewen Solon (Inspector Conway),
in 15- Cyril Chamberlain (Inspector Harris),
in 16- Hugh Moxey (Inspector O’Madden),
in 20- Ballard Berkeley (Inspector Berkeley),
and in 39 John Welsh appears as Supt. Hicks.
In Story 2 there is no main investigating police officer, while in 4 he appears very
The first 26 Scotland Yard stories were produced by Alec Snowden.
Jack Greenwood took over for the final thirteen stories, continuing his association with Merton Park by producing nearly all the Edgar Wallace series.
The theme music in the Scales of Justice series, issued on Decca F11662, was recorded by The Tornados.