Alastair Sim is in top form (he always is) as a police inspector looking into a girl’s suicide. He shows up at a rich family’s house while they’re just finishing dinner. It takes place in 1912. It’s based on a stage play by J.B.Priestly.
The Birling family is celebrating daughter Sheila’s (Eileen Moore) engagement to Gerald Croft. He’s the son of Birling’s chief competitor. As usual son Eric (Bryan Forbes) is getting drunk. It’s a happy gathering until from seemingly out of nowhere Inspector Poole (Alastair Sim) appears. He says a young girl named Eva Smith (Jane Wenham) has died at the infirmary of poison. It could be suicide, it could be murder.
Poole starts by showing a picture of Eva to Arthur but no one else. He says he remembers that she used to work for him but he fired her as a trouble maker. She led a small group to his office and asked for a living wage. Shelia becomes a part of the proceedings and admits she remembers Eva after seeing the picture. Eva had gotten a job at a millinery shop. Shelia and her mother came in so Shelia could buy a hat. Shelia’s in a foul mood and takes it out on Eva who ends up being fired over the incident.
Now it’s Gerald’s turn. He admits to meeting Eva after she changed her name to Daisy. He met her in a bar where nice young ladies aren’t usually found. He gets her some food and then a flat. She’s his mistress until it’s finally realized that their relationship would never work. All this was six months before tonight’s engagement. Shelia gives him back his ring. She’s not mad but feels they have to start over.
Up next Poole talks with the snobbish Sybil Birling. Her contact with Eva was at a women’s charity that gave help to destitute women. After a confrontational conversation Poole then turned to Eric.
It all comes to a great ending and is definitely a movie to see.
Bryan Forbes is also known as a screenwriter. His credits include “Chaplin” and “Seance On A Wet Afternoon.”