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Home To Danger/Master Spy [DVD]
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Double-bill of classic dramas. 'Home to Danger' (1951) is directed by Terence Fisher and stars Rona Anderson and Alan Wheatley. When Barbara (Anderson) returns home after her father's death she discovers that he had changed his will to include two mysterious beneficiaries. As time goes on Barbara discovers that her life is in danger. Who can she trust and who should she fear? 'Master Spy' (1964) is directed by Montgomery Tully and stars Stephen Murray and June Thorburn. Boris Turganev (Murray) is a Russian scientist who has absconded from a Communist prison in an attempt to achieve a better life working for the British. As Boris struggles to make his superiors believe he is there to work and not to spy for the Russians, an office romance blossoms that could put his mission in jeopardy.
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Beginning with the implausibility of the identity of the main criminal, the plot becomes contrived and predictable in the last third of the story, for which failing I have dropped off a star in my rating.
The Director, Terence Fisher's imaginative touches include some excellent night-time sequences, use of judicious close ups, and skilful build up of intrigue and suspense in the first two-thirds of the drama.
He has a nice way of posing group scenes so that the viewer's attention is drawn to each character in turn.
Interestingly - since the revelation of the criminal mastermind is a key twist in the plot - Fisher gives a very strong clue quite early on as to this character's identity. Well, it was strong on my second viewing of the movie as it completely passed me by first time round.
Guy Rolfe was either very tall or had a clause in his contract that he would not perform beside any actors taller than 5 feet. He admirably fills the role of the steady, brave, resourceful friend of the heroine.
Rona Anderson, who has an extraordinarily beautiful face, is also an accomplished actress - even at age 25 as she was when she made this movie - and at least holds her own in the key scenes with the towering Mr Rolfe.
A very young-looking Stanley Baker has an important role but plays it a bit 'big', walking like a zombie and widening his eyes alarmingly to sledgehammer home to the viewer that he is simple-minded. This may be the Director's fault, as some of the other supporting cast also exaggerate their expressions at times.
The film features a pleasing quantity of exterior scenes, with cameraman Reginald Wyer providing plenty of atmosphere in his shots around a country estate and some very good shadow effects in the night shooting.
The staging of a shooting party is particularly well directed and photographed, producing quite some tension.
The film opens with arresting photography of G - ALSA, a Boeing Stratocruiser owned by BOAC and named 'Cathay'. The camera lingers on the aircraft, celebrating its size. Sadly, this plane crashed at Prestwick airport three years after appearing in the movie, with heavy loss of life.
I wonder if this is the only surviving footage of the ill-fated machine.
"Master Spy", the second movie included here, is a decent enough low budget offering from 1963. While it is slow-moving and talky, with unimaginative direction, it does build to a tense climax and has a nice plot twist at the end.
Several roles get good screen time and the actors are perfectly adequate for their scenes. Stephen Murray and June Thorburn handle their lead roles with some style and receive strong support from Alan Wheatley (especially good) and John Carson.
I rate this at three stars, which makes this two-movie set a little over-priced in my eyes, given that Amazon is selling many movies of this vintage and quality for £5 each.
"Master Spy" is from the 1960s and was directed by Montgomery Tully and is a Cold War style thriller. Plenty of familiar faces too. I enjoyed it very much.
If you a fan of Alan Wheatly then you will be well pleased because he is in both films and could he be playing a villain.
The films are both good quality transfers and the sound is fine. Price wise you get 2 films for a very reasonable price.
This DVD edition from Renown Pictures double-bills the film with Montgomery Tully's 1964 Cold War drama Master Spy, a turgid, second-rate tale of Soviet defectors and secret scientific research. About the only thing the two films have in common is that they both feature villainous performances from the suave Alan Wheatley, although he has considerably less to do in Master Spy, with the primary intrigue centring around Stephen Murray's disaffected Russian boffin, who may or may not be a crafty double agent (in a particularly transparent piece of `no effort required' work by the screenwriters, they even christen this shifty scientist with the forename of one great Russian novelist and the surname of another; `Boris Turganev', indeed). There are a couple of likeably familiar faces in the cast (Jack Watson, Peter Gilmore), but they do little to relieve the tedium of this load of sub-John le Carré cobblers.
Again, kudos to Renown for unearthing more B-movies from whatever archive these old bill-fillers were entombed in; however, picture and sound quality here are again no more than adequate, and given the forgettable nature of both flicks, this double feature won't go down as one of their must-have releases.
"Home to Danger" is a good enough title and that's about as far as it goes. The story starts off with some promise, but it soon degenerates into a scrappy piece of work full of implausibilities and broken threads. Without disclosing the villain of the piece, one has to wonder, when all is revealed, how it is supposed to fit together: Rhona flitting around in high heels at night over boggy ground, duck shooting and, of course, lots of silly musak – it’s all there . . . The final scene is drawn out to the point of tedium.
"Master Spy" works to the familiar formula of double agents. A certain ambiguity overhangs the story but most of the workings are not too far below the surface. (Some might be amused by the laboratory antics, including an "antique" microscope clearly on display!) The acting works well enough, but I have to admit that even the most highly acclaimed spy stories tend to leave me a little perplexed as to why any of us bother at all.