Three Cases Of Murder (1955)

three cases of murder 1955

Three bland half hour stories of which the first is the best of the trio. Considering the authors involved it’s a real disappointment. All three are introduced by Eamonn Andrews.

#1: A supernatural dark comedy based on “In The Picture” by Roderick Wilkinson. The glass shatters on a painting and out walks Mr X (Alan Badel) the unknown artist. Tour guide Mr.Jarvis discovers the broken glass but not Mr.X While leading a group around he points out where some items are missing. After seeing the glass he reports it to his boss.

Now he’s alone in the gallery and sees a man sitting on a bench looking at the painting. It’s a run down house on a path with fog. Jarvis says it looks deserted and needs a light in a window. Mr.X tells him to get closer to the painting. He knocks on the door with his cane and it opens. The two are now in the painting. That’s where Mr.X lives along with a woman and a weird butterfly collector named Mr.Snyder.

Jarvis looks around and spots all the missing items from the museum. That’s just the beginning of his trouble. This one does have a good sense of fun despite the dark subject matter.

#2: Straight ahead murder mystery based on “You Killed Elizabeth” by Mike Shayne creator Brett Halliday. George Wheeler and Edgar Curtain have been best friends since childhood. In college Edgar likes his booze but it causes blackouts. A few years later they open an advertising agency together and share an apartment.

Edgar goes a way to settle a big contract. George goes to a concert and meets Elizabeth Grange and falls hard for her. When Edgar returns he introduces him to Elizabeth. Bad move. A few days later George meets Edgar at a pub. He’s drunk and announces his engagement to Elizabeth. George takes out her apartment key and calls Elizabeth a tramp. He and Edgar start to brawl but it’s quickly broken up.

The next morning George sees in the paper that Elizabeth has been murdered. Edgar comes home drunk with blood on his hands and jacket. They agree on an alibi. The police buy it and the newspapers report no leads in the case. But then…..

@3: Psychological drama based on “Lord Mountdrago” by W.Somerset Maugham. In the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Lord Mountdrago (Orson Welles) humiliates opposition member Owen (Alan Badel). Owen tells him he’ll return the favor and crush his spirit.

That night Mountdrago has a dream that he was being mocked at an exclusive party because he forgot his pants. Owen is there laughing at him. The next day in his office Mountdrago is tired from rehearsing a speech he is to give that night and lies down on the couch. He dreams he’s given the speech and then all of a sudden starts singing “A Bicycle Built For Two.” Owen calls for his resignation. The next day in the House Owen quotes from the song.

Mountdrago’s wife has him see a psychoanalyst. He tells him he feels guilty for destroying Owen’s career. Mountdrago doesn’t buy it. Now he dreams he’s making a fool of himself at a party. He spots Owen and hits him with a bottle. When he wakes up Owen is on a couch behind him and says he feels like he’s been hit on the head with a bottle.

The doctor tells Mountdrago to apologize to Owen. He refuses and says he has a better solution. This isn’t very good and if it was supposed to be even a bit chilly it totally misses.

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High Treason (1951)

high treason 1951

British gem about Communist infiltration of Britain without mentioning the word Communism. This is straight ahead with no hysterics and it’ll hold you from beginning to end. Don’t miss it.

Percy Ward types up a list of munitions due to be shipped out of Britain. He goes to the newly formed Elgin Music Society and passes it on along with the date of departure. The ship is almost loaded when a fire is spotted among the cartons. Then there’s a huge explosion and fire. Nine people are killed.

Commander Brennan (Liam Redmond) of Scotland Yard leads the investigation. One of the cargo supervisors, Williams, is questioned and released. When he gets back to his rooming house there’s a man waiting in his room. He’s Michael Stringer. The cops get there too late. Williams is dead.

The landlady picks Stringer from his mug shot. He was deported three years ago. In an effort to find him the cops follow his girlfriend Anna Braun. They spot her meeting Ward at a cafeteria. Suspicion focuses on a small appliance repair shop run by brothers Jimmy and George Ellis, both war veterans. Jimmy is getting nervous.

Also a front for the group is a tutorial college. The cops aren’t sure what goes on there but keep an eye on it from across the street. Also on their radar is a new MP in the area, Grant Mansfield.

Anna calls on Jimmy and warns him about talking too much. Back at the college there’s a Party meeting. Stringer is all for killing Jimmy but is told that’s not their decision to make. George senses something is wrong with Jimmy and finally gets the whole story. Jimmy made the fuses used in the bomb that blew up the munitions. Jimmy then pours it all out to Mansfield.

Right after that meeting Jimmy is abducted and taken to the College where he’s held prisoner on the top floor. Brennan searches for him over a period of two weeks and doesn’t have a clue where he is. In his locked room Jimmy hears through the wall plans for a major sabotage event.

The movie has a great, action filled final segment. This movie is one of the best of its kind and needs to be brought back so people who are spy movie fans and fans of just good movies can watch it.

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Four Freshmen And Five Saxes/Four Freshmen And Five Guitars

The Four Freshmen … And Five Saxes
1. Liza
2. You’ve Got Me Cryin’ Again
3. This Can’t Be Love
4. The Very Thought Of You
5. East Of The Sun
6. I May Be Wrong
7. There’s No One But You
8. Sometimes I’m Happy
9. For All We Know
10. Lullaby In Rhythm
11. This Love Of Mine
12. I Get Along Without You Very Well

The Four Freshmen … And Five Guitars
13. Rain
14. The More I See You
15. This October
16. Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me
17. It’s A Pity To Say Goodnight
18. Oh Lonely Winter
19. It All Depends On You
20. Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
21. I Never Knew
22. Invitation
23. I Understand
24. Come Rain Or Come Shine

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The Dummy Talks (1943)

Claude Hulbert

Claude Hulbert

Claude Hulbert stars as a wacky policeman in this inept comedy about murder at the Music Hall. There are a lot of performances throughout the movie to break up the lack of storyline.

Piers Harriman is a Scotland Yard detective with a box seat at the theater. He’s doesn’t let on he’s a detective. During the mind reading act the psychic’s assistant asks him to read a number off a five pound note Harriman is carrying. The note is counterfeit.

Ventriloquist Russell Warren knows the forger is performer Peggy Royce’s brother Jimmy. He tells her if she doesn’t marry him he’ll call the cops and turn Jimmy in. Special Reserve copper Victor Harbord (Claude Hulbert) is also looking for the forger.

Warren gave up his spot on stage so he could tell Peggy what he wanted. Now he has to go back on after the debut of performer Jack (Blue Pencil) Warner. He refuses to follow an unproven act. The stage manager demands he go on and calls Mr.Yates the theatre owner. Yates lets Warren have his way and the niece’s debut is cancelled..

Later, Harriman discovers Warren has been stabbed in his dressing room. He tells Yates but asks him to keep it quiet and put out the word no one from the cast is allowed to leave the theatre. Victor continues to bumble along and get nowhere. He’s also been trying to get Peggy in a romance.

The ending is really lame as Harriman calls his suspects into a room and has the mind reader look into a crystal ball. He has a midget dress as Warren’s dummy so he can talk and identify the murderer when the mind reader calls out for him to speak.

If you like that era of English vaudeville then you’ll go for this. Other than that the anemic mystery plot isn’t worth it.

Claude Hulbert was one of the most popular comedians of the era.

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The Gaffer (1981-83)

the gaffer

The series had a good following but that didn’t include me. I like Bill Maynard but not in this series where he plays the scheming head of a small engineering firm. He has to pull various schemes to keep the business going. His secretary Betty (Pat Ashton) observes it all with a combination of amazement and amusement.

Opening episode: January 9,1981 – “All In A Days’ Strike” –  It’s just another day at Fred Moffatt’s firm. He’s trying his best to get a new order but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen.  Charlie, one of his best employees does his usual pitch for a raise. He threatens to quit so Fred offers him overtime. Harry (Russell Hunter) the Shop steward says everyone should get the same deal.

Turns out it’s just another scam. Fred knows the only way he’ll get that order is if his firm goes on strike. He and Harry make a deal. Harry’s father Jack is anti-union and isn’t a member. Harry wants him back in. The union has a different idea.

Fred calls another firm and orders one washer. The idea is to have the delivery van stopped by the pickets. Instead the head of the firm drives it in himself using his own car and no one stops him.

Fred has to keep coming up with schemes to get what he wants. Charlie says he’s quitting because his fiancee wants him to make more money. Fred’s idea is to get the firm’s stud to take her away from Charlie. That just draws some head shaking from Harry and Betty.

The episode is bland. Bill Maynard is miles better as the annoying title character in “On No-It’s Selwyn Froggatt” (1974-77)

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The Spiral Staircase (1945)

the spiral staircase 1945

Gothic murder mystery complete with an ailing old woman, a creepy mansion, a drunken housekeeper, a stepbrother who is a total jerk, his brother who oozes care out of every pore, a sexy secretary, a young doctor who romances a sweet young thing that lost her voice and a heavy thunderstorm with lots of wind and lightning that never goes away the entire movie.

Ethel Barrymore was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The winner was Anne Baxter for “The Razor’s Edge.”

New England, 1906: Helen (Dorothy McGuire) works for the bedridden Mrs.Warren (Ethel Barrymore). Helen lost her voice after a childhood trauma. She’s in town watching a movie when a girl upstairs is murdered. Dr.Parry (Kent Smith) drives her back to the Warren mansion. He’s trying to encourage her to see a doctor in Boston that may be able to help her get her voice back.

He has to drop her off because a man is very sick and he has to see him. A storm breaks out before she can get in the door. She doesn’t know she’s being watched. Finally inside she goes to see Mrs.Warren. She tells Helen she’s in danger and to get out of the house that night.

The constable stops by and tells Professor Warren (George Brent) about the murder. Warren tells Helen he’ll protect her. His step brother Steven is back from Europe and doesn’t waste any time romancing his mother’s secretary Blanche (Rhonda Fleming). Mrs.Warren says he’s nothing but trouble.

Dr.Parry shows up at the request of Mrs.Warren. She confides in him that her late husband couldn’t stand the two boys because they’re weaklings. She asks him to get Helen out of the house. She has a relapse and the ether to bring her around is missing. As a substitute the professor takes housekeeper Mrs.Oates (Elsa Lancaster) to the cellar for some brandy. That’s fine with her since it’s her chance to make off with a bottle of her own.

Parry tries to shock Helen by going over what happened when she lost her voice. As a child returning home from school she saw her parents burn to death in a house fire. The shock treatment doesn’t work. He’s called away to take care of a sick boy and he gives Helen a piece of paper with his phone number. After he leaves Helen fantasizes about a wedding with Parry as her groom.

Blanche tells Steven how unhappy she is and he just laughs at her and makes fun of her. Upset she runs to the basement to get a suitcase. She plans to leave with Helen. Plans are cancelled when she’s murdered. The last fifteen minutes make total use of the woman in peril theme and it is suspenseful.

The movie is very predictable but still worth seeing with its good cast.



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Hatter’s Castle (1942)

hatter's castle 1942

Robert “Long John Silver” Newton gives the best performance of his career in this drama about a universally disliked man in his town and a dictator with his family. The movie is intense, melodramatic and one not to be missed. It takes place in Scotland in the year 1879

James Broddie (Robert Newton) is the wealthy owner of a hat shop. He’s building a castle outside of town and everyone jokingly refers to it as Hatter’s Castle. He’s all about getting ahead and claims to be related to a Lord. He pushes his son to be number one at school and that means no sports or anything else that will keep him from concentrating on his school work.

Nancy, the barmaid at Broddie’s club, is his mistress. Her former boyfriend Dennis (Emlyn Williams) comes back to town broke. She tells Broddie that he’s her half brother and cajoles him into giving Dennis a job at the hat shop. That means firing his assistant of twelve years. He could care less.

Broddie’s wife is sick and the family doctor hasn’t done her a bit of good. Behind her father’s back, his daughter Mary (Deborah Kerr) brings in young Dr.Renwick (James Mason). When Broddie gets home he throws him out. He tells Mary never to let him in again.

In town the Ironmonger next to Broddie says he’s selling his shop and offers it to Broddie so he can expand his business. He tells him to get out. When Broddie leaves Dennis offers the man to put him in touch with someone in London who will buy it. Dennis wants a piece of the action. It’s the owner of a hat store.

It’s the night of the big village ball. Mary gets ready to go until her father catches her giving his wife medicine from Renwick. He slaps Marry and orders her to stay home. At the ball Dennis leaves and brings food and champagne to Mary. Renwick wants to go see her but Mrs.Broddie has fainted and he can’t leave. He tells Broddie and the family doctor that she has terminal cancer. They don’t believe him.

Back at the house Broddie brings her back early and Mary hides Dennis in her room. Of course you know how they’ll occupy their time. The next day Renwick waits until Broddie leaves the house. He asks Mary to marry him but she turns him down.

It’s opening day of the new hat shop next door and people are avoiding Broddie’s. Mary tells Dennis she’s pregnant. He says he has plans for his open shop in London and thinks he’ll get the money from Broddie when he marries Mary. Then he finds out Broddie is broke and the mortgage on the house is way overdue. Then he asks Nancy for the money and Broddie catches them together.

Broddie goes after Dennis after he’s told about Mary’s condition. He pulls a gun and shoots Broddie. It’s just a graze. Broddie threatens to turn him in for attempted murder but changes his mind and tells him to leave town. Back home he tells Mary to get out. There’s a raging storm outside but he doesn’t care and tosses her outside to fend for herself.

The movie gets more intense and Broddie gets even more insufferable. If you miss good, solid drama be sure to look this one up.



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