Vampire Over London

The Cold War is a monstrously expensive proposition (cf. Nathan Juran’s The Deadly Mantis), hence a uranium-seeking bloodsucker to Old Mother Riley of 14 Ration Row.

It made no sense to Halliwell’s Film Guide (as Mother Riley Meets the Vampire), “childish farce”, and Halliwell cites the Monthly Film Bulletin, “stupid, humourless and repulsive.”



The jewel robbery that kills the old man but comes a cropper, next time resurgent it suffers a major setback at Gorings Depository on its way to South America and dies the death not long thereafter.

The gangster films from America are made to show their connection to Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (dir. Jack Gold), especially Mervyn LeRoy’s Little Caesar. A notable theme is the alibi of the considerate and well-meaning.

Beautifully filmed in wintry London just before Spring, fog and bare trees mostly in views of the town.

Screenplay by the director, cinematography Monty Berman, Sidney Hayers editor, score Stanley Black.

TV Guide, “taut and action-filled”.


The Gamma People

Charters and Caldicott are the obvious inspiration for the two journalists, American (Paul Douglas) and British (Leslie Phillips), traveling by rail to cover the Salzburg Festival, their car is diverted by misadventure and rolls into Gudavia, formerly a kingdom and now a democratic republic, in any case hard to find on a map.

They see the whole story through to the fiery Frankenstein end.

Prof. Boronski has a mad Experiment X going, bombardment of children by gamma rays to produce “genius”-brutes as “future rulers of the world”, sometimes “imbeciles” or useful “goons”.

These Hitlerjugend get described as “the local Teddy boys”, and since Walter Rilla has the role of Boronski, there is a link to Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned, as well as Losey’s The Damned, however remote.

The wit was utterly lost on Halliwell’s Film Guide, “artless”, it says.


An Adventure of the African Frontier

A sublime and redoubtable analysis full of charm.

The game warden, the zoo collector, and the lady veterinarian.

To effect a rapprochement is easier than an understanding, failing which the whole thing goes a bit haywire.

“Cheerio,” says the English lad fresh from the tortures of school, “I hear Mum calling.”

The title character tends the animals, only a cub himself, addressing them all by name.

“Elementary”, says Halliwell’s Film Guide, fiddling.


Pickup Alley

The boredom felt by G-men in Seiter’s Borderline has passed into disgust, it’s the dealer now who suffers from the routine “like clockwork”, it’s a mystery to all what attracts people to the stuff.

A vivid atmosphere, those in the trade accurately noted, the ragged G-men adhering to the fight against importation (cf. Benedek’s Port of New York).

In Britain and originally, Interpol.

The top of the racket’s a black-tie affair, an ongoing party hosted by a murderer “certified sane”.

Gilling of Scotland Yard. Morphine and heroin, the latter “bringing better prices in the States.”

“Who would suspect Lebanese opium, processed in Naples, to go to New York by way of Athens?”

The action thus shifts to the Continent ahead of Young and Friedkin and Frankenheimer.

Moore cinematography, Bennett score, Paxton screenplay. Ekberg on the Campidoglio, tailed by Mature ahead of Fellini. “The Catacombs, please,” follow that carriage, I bambini di Roma.

You look like a man who writes home, how about a pen?” Hamer’s Father Brown (The Detective). Ruins, night, a tolling bell.

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “drearily routine”.

S.S. Reo Allego (Buenos Aires) out of Athens at the pier in New York is remembered in John Furia’s “Follow the White Brick Road” for Hawaii Five-O (dir. Michael O’Herlihy).


High Flight

The three-year course at RAF College Cranwell.

The BSc (Hon) dreams of flying saucers, another cadet blacks out after dislodging his oxygen tube, a difficult case flies onto the field his first day carrying a tale about the wing commander.

Winner’s You Must Be Joking! might have been born with the “survival forfeit”, Hawks’ Hatari! remembers the test flight.

The navigation sequence (cf. John Boulting’s Journey Together) calculates the North Sea for Lincoln Cathedral, the Irish Sea for Blackpool Tower, and Cranwell for Hyde Park.

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “simple-minded”, Leonard Maltin, “stale”.


The Man Inside

A blue diamond worth fairy-tale kingdoms, stolen in New York by a bookkeeper who is English, sought by a Dallas dick and a German crook and an Austrian dame who says she lost it to the Nazis, from London to Lisbon, Madrid and Paris, then the boat-train for England (but not South America) by night.

An inside job, but the inner man is expressed in the title.

Halliwell’s comment is amusing, “fairly modest and unenterprising British thriller which hadn’t much hope of the world market it was aiming at.”

A.H. Weiler (New York Times) said no dice, pure and simple.


The Flesh and the Fiends

The object lesson of Dr. Knox, whose ethical surdity laid a snare for Burke and Hare, the resurrectionists wont to transact business with the woefully unqualified.

The interesting symmetrical structure has a vertical-horizontal arrangement, with two parallel love affairs giving lateral interest, and Dr. Knox’s ascent into prideful heights of medical Quixotism matched by Burke and Hare’s descent through grave-robbing to euthanasia and crimes of passion and necessity and advantage against increasingly lively victims. The background is Dr. Mabuse, culminating in Bowery at Midnight, ably filmed with a good deal of Rembrandt (or rather Hals) lighting.

The coda opens with Frankenstein’s popular revulsion, and passes through Burke and Hare’s end to Dr. Knox’s redemption in the Hippocratic oath. With George Rose as Burke, Peter Cushing in one of his best performances, Billie Whitelaw in a fine turn as a sprightly barmaid, and Donald Pleasence working up a brilliant representation of the Irishman Hare.


Fury At Smugglers’ Bay

A beautiful eighteenth-century mise en scène in Panascope and Eastmancolour for Gilling’s broad analysis of Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn.

Heavy taxation, a squire blackmailed, the redress of thievery in the line of French coasters, and another line, murderous and savage, wrecking ships for plunder.

A very touching balance of accounts. Halliwell’s Film Guide notes the variant, “watchable, then forgettable.”

Lang’s Moonfleet is the catalyst, unmistakably.

Odongo as Juma, in a manner of speaking. Notable location cinematography (a Hitchcock hallmark). The Flesh and the Fiends is the point of departure.


The Shadow of the Cat

In the attic of “a stately house of England”, the old lady’s murdered by her husband and his household allies, her beloved cat is a witness.

Pussy kills them all.

Carriages and the new automobile pass through the gates, there’s a nearby swamp, the larcenous gang all want her money, the cat fills them with terror, a simple house cat.

Its mistress had been reading Poe aloud, “The Raven”.

Superb film, excellent cast, great cat, score by Mikis Theodorakis.


The Pirates of Blood River

A superfine allegory of America with Kerwin Mathews and Glenn Corbett as Huguenots in the land of the piranha, by John Hunter and the director from the pen of Jimmy Sangster.

Reviews and notices have been laughable to a corresponding degree.

A certain relation to Herzog’s Aguirre der Zorn gottes will be noted in the long run, among the facets.


The Brigand of Kandahar

The half-caste or mixed-blood joke is from Hitchcock’s Murder! and signifies here that much of this film is taken from Terence Young’s Zarak, for which Gilling served as associate director and of which this, in light of that film’s abstruseness (vide the critics), is a further analysis.

The journalist from the Times is the remote link to Stevens’ Gunga Din, he gets the lowdown on the title character, a man traduced and betrayed.

Gilling adds the notion of Samson “at the mill with slaves” to a sense of David amongst the Philistines to complete the allegory.


the night caller

The Lodger figures significantly in the title character’s description, he abducts girls to people Ganymede with, that moon of Jupiter.

They answer an advertisement in Bikini Girl, go to Orion Enterprises and are hypnotized during an interview.

Letters for the firm are picked up at a very shady bookshop in Soho.

The girls have their pictures taken on plastic in 3-D, these pictures have a compelling power over them.

A frozen ball aimed at London lands on the heath to begin with, later it departs, a ball of fire.


The Plague of the Zombies

A village in Cornwall, 1860.

The mines are disused as unsafe. The new squire works them at night for his mysterious income, flogging zombies created one by one from the living townsfolk, first he gets a bit of blood for the ritual that places them under his spell, they weaken and die or he kills them on a sacrificial table, the graves are empty.

A vision of the afterlife, by day the squire’s henchmen ride to hounds without any, the undead have white staring eyes and a somewhat listless manner.

Variety considered this “formula scripting”, the film’s minor reputation rests there.


The Reptile

A single recurring image forms the three parts. Cornwall, village, small cottage known as Larkrise. A note is received, the occupant goes to the great house across the moor. Inside, a warning is shouted, a swift attack turns the caller’s face black and he dies foaming at the mouth (first version), or he lives to have the poison removed, or an alarm raised from outside interrupts the scene.

This is recondite, the explanation concerns a snake cult in Borneo and a punishment for secret knowledge revealed.

The second victim is the brother of the first and formerly a Grenadier, the third is the Grenadier’s wife, gentle as a dove.