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Well-balanced thriller with a hint of romance
on 1 September 2013
Several unfavourable comments have been made about Eureka's transfer but it was no poorer than a recording I made of the film on good equipment from a slightly cut commercial channel TV showing of not so long ago, and happily this time the film is complete. Now on with the review:-
Trevor Howard, whether sporting a moustache or not (in a pointless attempt to evade being identified) is at his most dashing in this neat 1950 movie as a demoted secret agent. He puts his skills to good use again, trying to get out of the country a disturbed girl he has become sweet on.
She is accused of murdering an up-to-no-good handyman (Maxwell Reed) in the grounds of her avuncular butterfly-collecting ward (Barry Jones). His wife (Sonja Dresdel, rather hamming it up) is a less sympathetic character. The question is did they, or an outsider, do it? Or was it the niece (Jean Simmons) after all?
Not only are the police (led by a youthful Kenneth More) pursuing them but Howard's former agency too. The chase goes on practically all round Britain before reaching a dramatic conclusion. We get some good location shots of the Lake District and Liverpool's dockland.
Howard is excellent as usual but the film is every bit as much 21-year-old Simmons'. This was already about her 18th British feature (her last for a while when Howard Hughes got her under contract without her initial knowledge) and here she convincingly portrays new, grittier psycho-analytical territory. Is she insane, or suffering the after-effects of childhood trauma (she saw her parents die)? The film presages "Angel Face" in exploring a darker side of her than usual.
Commanding attention whenever she appears she is every inch the star even when "disguised" as a teenage lad in shapeless male garb and her beautiful locks cropped. Some might scoff at the closing scene where she can't outwit her pursuer on dockland rooftops, but it's an exciting finale all the same.