Muriel Box was one of only two female film directors, the other was Wendy Toye, to sustain a career in mainstream British cinema during the 1950’s and 60’s but the 14 films she made during this period have to date received very little critical attention and she was probable better known for her scriptwriting. One of the films directed by her during this period was the British crime drama set in post war Berlin Subway in the Sky (1959).
It tells the story of nightclub singer Lilli Hoffman who after her divorce rents an expensive apartment from Anna Grant who says she is off to stay with her sister. Lilli has hardly unpacked her cases when her landlady’s American husband suddenly turns up looking for his wife - who he says has not got a sister! It turns out that Major Baxter Grant is on the run from the Military Police as well as the civilian constabulary. He is thought to have stolen drugs from the army and sold them on the black market, the proceeds of which his wife has appeared to runoff with. MP Carson thinks that Lilli is hiding Baxter in the apartment and is forced into telling her that he is also wanted for the murder of an MP that was previously investigating the drug hoist. But to complicate the situation further Lilli Hoffman falls in love with the fugitive!
Jack Andrews wrote the screenplay from a play by Ian Main that in turn was based on a novel by Bruce Birch. The movie, which very much imitates the plays format, is set mainly in the flat where most of the action takes place. But this does not detract from the enjoyment of this well directed, well-acted and well told story with a twist you don’t see coming until just before the end of the movie. The film stars the very attractive German actress, singer and writer Hildegard Neff who led a very interesting life and appeared in films produced in many country’s other than Germany and Britain. Her lover in the film was the popular American actor Van Johnson. Also appearing was Katherine Kath as Anna Grant a French actress whose career as a prima ballerina was cut short by an accident and who turned to acting to earn her living. Carson is played by Cecil Linder, best remembered as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger (1964). Made at the Shepperton Studios England and released on DVD by Renown Pictures in 2009. Incidentally the title comes from the fact that Baxter Grant was stuck in the subway during a power cut and is now stuck in a tower block in the sky – not a lot of people know that! Well worth a look for fan’s of good well-made 1950’s films.