All directors have to start somewhere and many honed their skills on British B-movies. This included Guy Hamilton who eventually became best known for helming four James Bond movies. He also directed the British cult movie The Party’s Over in 1962 and Len Deighton’s spy drama Funeral in Berlin (1966). Hamilton previously worked as an assistant director to Carol Reed on two films 1948’s Fallen Idol and 1949’s award winning The Third Man. It was Reed that got Hamilton his first directorial position on The Ringer (1952) a B-movie that did nothing to hide Reeds influence!
This classy adaptation of one of Edgar Wallace’s best-known stories is about an elusive international criminal known as the Ringer. Originally reported to have died in Australia he is now believed to be alive in London. Because of the mysterious drowning of his sister Gwenda, who was left in the care of the unscrupulous criminal lawyer Maurice Meister, Scotland Yard warn Meister that his life is in danger and mount a guard around his house. An alarm system is set up and steel bars fixed to all the downstairs windows. It is suspected that the Ringer, whose beautiful wife has turned up, must be one of the close circle around Meister as no one can get into the house. Or can they?
This excellent new transfer from Network does credit to both the look of the film and the great cast that appears in this B-movie. Herbert Lom as always plays the slimy villain in the guise of Maurice Meister with the style we have come to expect from this great actor, Lisa a houseguest of the lawyer is played by the Swedish born Mai Zetterling who appeared in Desperate Moments opposite Dirk Bogarde in 1953, the Ringer’s wife is Oslo born Greta Gynt, another international actress that made many British movies including Three Steps in the Dark (1953). Also on screen are other well known names including Donald Wolfit as a police doctor, William Hartnall as a small time crook, and Denholm Elliott and a 29 year old Dora Bryan. A unique example of the British B-movie at its best, and with its gradual build up of tension and its surprise ending would certainly pass muster as the main feature.