Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Undercover Agent aka Counterspy

Husband and wife team Dermot Walsh and Hazel Court star in Vernon Sewell’s (The Man in the Back Seat) 1953 cold war drama Undercover Agent, which was wildly known as Counterspy. The drama begins when we witness papers stolen from a safe in a large country house. Dermot Walsh plays the accountant Manning who unwittingly becomes involved in a spy ring that are hell bent on passing the secret plans for a new jet engine, along with the details of a new material out of which it will be constructed, on to a foreign power. Hazel Court plays his anxious wife.

Dermot Walsh was a promising actor who like many stars of this period had more success in B-movies than he did in main features, his wife, who had spent the 40’s in ‘A’ films, also found more fame as the sophisticated lady of the B-movies in the 1950’s.  
Hazel Court and Dermot Walsh.
Well received by the critics with the general consensus being that it was “a typical thriller with an unusual impact” At times the ‘queer goings on’ can feel a little bit like amateur theatricals but it’s genuinely not a bad film. Hermione Braddeley as Del Mar and Alexander Guage as a Sydney Greenstreet type villain add to its authenticity. We also get treated to an exciting chase round the Fun Fair at the Festival Pleasure Gardens Battersea Park that would eventually become known as Battersea Fun Fair, which did not close until the mid 1970’s.
Things turn nasty!!

Guy Elmes and Gaston Lazare wrote the screenplay based on a short story Criss Cross Code by Julian Symons. The DOP was A T Dinsdale who also worked with Ken Hughes on Timeslip (1955) and the music was by Eric Spear, best known for composing the original theme tune for the British soap Coronation Street which it is alleged he was paid the princely sum of six pound. The quaintly named William H Williams produced it. 

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