Thursday, 6 February 2014

Suspended Alibi.

A man comes down a staircase of a large double fronted house, gun in hand, he quietly opens the door ahead of him and is immediately shoot by a young boy in a full Red Indian headdress. There’s a rather good-looking women (Honor Blackman) sitting on the settee doing her mending, the man is the women’s husband, he has a well-paid job as features editor on a large daily newspaper. After wrestling the Red Indian to the well-carpeted floor his son carries on playing on his own whilst dad sits to read the paper.  Domestic bliss: that is until a chain of events that begins when a telephone rings and could quite easily end with a hangman’s noose!
That fatal telephone call!
This middle class crime drama which involves an infidelity between our ‘not quite as content as he seems’ feature editor Paul Pearson (Patrick Holt a actor who was known as the Dennis Price of the B-movie) and the attractive ‘other women’ Diana (Naomi Chance) and dare we forget the real reason for our story the rather unpleasant murder of Pearson’s card school friend Bill Forrest (Bryan Coleman) who always gives Pearson an alibi whilst he carries out his indiscretions.  A series of coincidences leads to a further death and the wrong man standing tall above the trap door on a prison scaffold.  
Questioned by the police as the circumstantial evidence piles up.
Directed by London born Alfred Shaughnessy who was best known for being a script editor on the popular TV series Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) of which he wrote 68 episodes himself. He also wrote for Norman Wisdom and along with other feature films he directed Cat Girl (1957) a horror film with ‘sexy qualities’ and took one of the TV's popular music programmes and made it into a feature film namely the ground breaking 6.5 Special (1968). Even with a minimal budget Shaughnessy succeeds in turning, what on the surface could be a normal run off the mill middleclass whodunit, into a tight and competent thriller that benefits from the familiar face of Blackman who is convincing as the wronged wife who will not believe that her husband is a philandering murderer?  Both the original story and the screenplay are by Kenneth Hayes. One reviewer opined 'Here's one of these brisk, efficiently made pieces of quota entertainment which fill their modest place in the programme so worthily. Modestly produced, it nonetheless provides an hour of honest enjoyment'[1] and theirs nothing wrong with a wee bit of honest enjoyment, unlike Paul Pearson who enjoyed a little too much dishonest enjoyment!

[1] To-Days Cinema 1956.

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