Friday, 14 December 2012


Jack Warner as DI Fred Fellows.
Detective Sargent Jim Wikes (Ronald Lewis) is sent to an estate agents in Queens Road Brighton that has been broken into. The only thing that appears to be missing is the lease of some rented properties.  On checking one of the houses it’s discovered that there has been a murder of a young women and an attempt to dismember and hide her body.  Sending one of the East Sussex Constabulary’s most experienced police officers Detective Inspector Fred Fellows (Jack Warner) to investigate, who determines that they have no idea of the deceases identity only her initials and they are also unable to trace the man whose name appears on the contract. A jigsaw of clues is laid out for both the police and the more observant viewer but can they be pieced together to find out who carried out this awful crime? 

Ronald Lewis as DS Wilkes.
Made with the full cooperation of the Chief Constables and Officers of the County Borough of Brighton Police and the East Sussex Constabulary, Val Guest’s 1961 police procedural Jigsaw has not aged as well as Hell is a City, which was made two years prior to this murder mystery. The director returned to the police perception of the 1950’s, for example the insistence that the police are all good sorts who ‘endure the arrogance stupidity and apathy of the public’[1].

Again made on location in a provisional town and superbly photographed by Arthur Grant, who took over as Hammers regular cameraman in 1961.  Jack Warner was at this time the face of the popular TV series Dixon of Dock Green (1955-1978) appearing in 432 episodes as the formidable George Dixon until he was eighty years old. As you would expect Warner looks like he was born to be a no nonsense copper, but Guest gives him human sensibilities, a love of football, a wee weight problem and the difficulties he has with giving up cigarettes, and a man who finds it difficult to delegate. 

A suspect is questioned!
Guest’s screenplay, which was based on a Hilary Waugh novel Sleep Long My Love includes some great characters that could only be found in a British movie and seem to live in a vacuum of their own making. There’s the slimy salesman who uses his sales techniques to entice lonely women into bed, a colour-blind deliveryman who says he has a photographic memory but only in black and white, a fussy little teacher who is excited to be involved in a murder investigation, a life long virgin played by Yolande Donlan, and if you think you have seen the ‘glazier’ before its Gerald Campion who played the perennial schoolboy Billy Bunter in the TV series between 1952 and 1961. Its these kind of character study’s that makes this neatly plotted murder mystery so interesting.

[1] Robert Murphy - Sixties British Cinema. 

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