Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Three Steps in the Dark.

How nice a wee family get together.
The usual suspects were involved in the making this Corsair Productions B-movie from 1953. Helmed by Daniel Birt (The Night Won’t Talk 1952, Meet Mr Malcolm 1954) adapted by Brook William from story by Roger East with quality black and white photography from the reliable Hone Glendining.
Surely the elderly housekeeper is not going to murder Uncle?
A drawing room whodunit where a rich, but intensely disliked uncle (Nicholas Hannen) calls a family reunion to tell his baying relations that he’s about to change his will. But low and behold he’s shot dead before he can complete the task. Of course there’s plenty off suspects even if we ignore the Butler and the elderly housekeeper played by Katie Johnson, who you will recognise from Ealing’s 1955 black comedy The Ladykillers. There’s the cousin Sophie Burgoyne (Oslo born Greta Gynt) the amateur sleuth and crime writer who knows a lot about murder, stables owner Philip Burgoyne (Hugh Sinclair) who has money problems and his wife the hateful Dorothy (this blogger’s favourite B actress Sarah Lawson). Then there’s the relation who expects to inherit the old mans estate, Henry Burgoyne (John Van Eyssen) whose last hope of riches rests with Uncle’s money, not forgetting his fiancé Esme (Helen Cordet the French television actress in her debut feature film role) who has one too many secrets.  And if any B-movie has Elwyn Brook-Jones in the cast then you automatically have a suspect, he plays the murder victims lawyer, Wilbraham.
'Perhaps Uncle shoot himself?'

Not according to the police he didn't.

Some well above average acting from this ensemble B-movie cast and certainly one of Birt’s better examples from this genre. Up until recently we would not have had the chance to see it.  There is no indication that the film was ever shown publicly again in cinemas after its initial release or on television. The British Film Institute included the film on its "75 Most Wanted" list of missing British feature films, due in large part to interest from film historians in Birt's relatively brief directorial career, which as I have said previously was cut short by his death at the age of 47 in 1955. The National Film and Sound Archive in Australia subsequently informed the BFI it has the film[1]. So thanks to Odeon Entertainment for painstakingly restoring this ‘missing believed lost’ movie to life for us to all to enjoy.

Esme is not about to divulge her secrets!

[1] The BFI November 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment