Edgar Wallace Mysteries (1960-1965)

Between September 1960 and October 1965 cinemas in the UK screened 40 films produced by Anglo Amalgamated in their Edgar Wallace Mysteries series. These low-budget movies, more or less based on the works of the celebrated mystery writer, were mainly produced at Merton Park Studios by Jack Greenwood though The Malpas Mystery (1960) was farmed out to Independent Artists and produced by Julian Wintle and Leslie Parkyn. These were made as dual-purpose product, to fit both on the second half of a cinema double bill, but also for potential sale to television overseas. In America they were shown as part of Edgar Wallace Mystery Theater / Hour but with other films thrown in which were not strictly speaking part of the series. For example, Crossroads to Crime (1960), directed by later Supermarionation supremo Gerry Anderson, is often included in the syndication packages but was an otherwise unrelated release given the Wallace imprimatur purely to help with sales.

This was also true of Urge to Kill (1960), a largely unremarkable story of a mad killer on the loose made by Vernon Sewell, but also produced by Greenwood for AA and scripted by James Eastwood, who wrote many of the Wallace films, here though adapting a novel by Gerald Savory. Apart from the Wallace name and the title sequence, which as we see was occasionally added to unrelated material, the films in the series were otherwise mostly one-offs, largely unrelated to one another. The closest thing the films had to regular characters were a pair of Scotland Yard detectives played by Bernard Lee and Stanley Morgan, who appeared together in the first release, Clue of the Twisted Candle respectively as Superintendent Meredith and Sergeant Anson and then paired again in Clue of the Silver Key and The Share Out. However, in Partners In Crime they played the same characters, but were renamed ‘Inspector Mann’ and (obviously John Ford fans at Merton Park), ‘Sergeant Rutledge’. Lee returned to Superintendent Meredith without his sergeant in Who was Maddox?

The films contrast intriguingly with the adaptations being made at the same time by Rialto, who produced nearly three dozen Wallace films between 1959 and 1971. Much jokier and more artificial, these are much more aligned to the horror-tinged ‘krimi’ films that would eventually lead to the Italian giallo thrillers popularised by Mario Bava and Dario Argento. For a good look at what those films are like, visit the Krimi Corner at: www.latarnia.com/krimi.htm. The German series, like the British one, essentially traded on the Wallace name without necessarily paying too much attention to the original sources. Each of the films also beings by introducing Wallace himself, though rather than a bust we usually hear his voice on the telephone (“Hello? This is Edgar Wallace speaking …”) before the usually lurid titles begin over a twangy pop arrangement. Similarly, the Merton Park series spun off a popular theme tune in the shape of ‘Man of Mystery’ by Michael Carr and played over a darkly lit revolving bust of Wallace. Initially arranged for flute, the theme was later turned into a guitar hit by the Shadows, reaching number 5 in the charts.

The films

Here is the complete list of the film, including credits for the author of the screenplay and the director. Hyperlinks will be added as I post reviews of individual titles which are now being released for the first time on DVD in the UK. By the end of 2012 all of the films should be available in 7 box sets from Network DVD through a licensing deal with Studio Canal, who now own the Anglo-Amalgamated library.

N.B. The titles marked with a pair of asterisks (**) are often included in the Edgar Wallace syndication packages but were not part of the series. I have included them below for the sake of completeness.

1960

  • Clue of the Twisted Candle (writer: Philip Mackie, director: Allan Davis)
  • Marriage of Convenience (w. Robert Banks Stewart, d. Clive Donner)
  • The Malpas Mystery (w. Paul Tabori, d. Sidney Hayers)
  • The Man Who Was Nobody (w. James Eastwood, d. Montgomery Tully)

1961

  • Clue of New Pin (w. Philip Mackie, d. Allan Davis)
  • Partners in Crime (w. Robert Banks Stewart, d. Peter Duffel)
  • The Fourth Square (w. James Eastwood, d. Allan Davis)
  • Man at the Carlton Tower (w. Philip Mackie, d. Robert Tronson)
  • Clue of Silver Key (w. Philip Mackie, d. Gerard Glaister)
  • Attempt to Kill (w. Richard Harris, d. Royston Morley)
  • Man Detained (w. Richard Harris, d. Robert Tronson)
  • Never Back Losers (w. Lukas Heller, d. Robert Tronson)
  • The Sinister Man (w. Robert Banks Stewart [& Philip Mackie], d. Clive Donner)

1962

  • Candidate for Murder (w. Lukas Heller, d. David Villers)
  • Backfire (w. Robert Banks Stewart, d. Paul Almond)
  • The Share Out (w. Philip Mackie, d. Gerard Glaister)
  • Flat Two (w. Lindsay Galloway, d. Alan Cooke)
  • Number Six (w. Philip Mackie, d. Robert Tronson)
  • Time to Remember (w. Arthur La Bern, d. Charles Jarrott)
  • Locker 69 (w. Richard Harris, d. Norman Harrison)
  • Playback (w. Robert Banks Stewart, d. Quentin Lawrence)
  • Solo for Sparrow (w. Roger Marshall, d. Gordon Flemyng)
  • Death Trap (w. John Roddick, d. John Llewellyn Moxey)

1963

  • The Set Up (w. Roger Marshall, d. Gerard Glaister)
  • The 20,000 Pound Kiss (w. Philip Mackie, d. John Llewellyn Moxey)
  • Incident at Midnight (w. Arthur La Bern, d. Norman Harrison)
  • On the Run (w. Richard Harris, d. Robert Tronson)
  • Return to Sender (w. John Roddick, d. Gordon Hales)
  • Ricochet (w. Roger Marshall, d. John Llewellyn Moxey)
  • The Double (w. John Roddick & Lindsay Galloway, d. Lionel Harris)
  • The Rivals (w. John Roddick, d. Max Varnel)
  • To Have and to Hold (w. Jimmy Sangster [as 'John Sansom'] d. Herbert Wise)
  • The Partner (w. John Roddick, d. Gerard Glaister)
  • Accidental Death (w. Arthur La Bern, d. Geoffrey Nethercott)
  • Five to One (w. Roger Marshall, d. Gordon Flemyng)

1964

  • Downfall (w. Robert Banks Stewart, d. John Llewellyn Moxey)
  • The Verdict (w. Arthur La Bern, d. David Eady)
  • We Shall See (w. Donal Giltinan, d. Quentin Lawrence)
  • Who was Maddox? (w. Roger Marshall, d. Geoffrey Nethercott)
  • Act of Murder (w. Lewis Davidson, d. Alan Bridges) **
  • Face of a Stranger (w. Jimmy Sangster [as 'John Sansom'], d. John Llewellyn Moxey)
  • Never Mention Murder (w. Robert Banks Stewart, d. John Nelson-Burton) **
  • The Main Chance (w. Richard Harris, d. John Knight) **

1965

  • Game for Three Losers (w. Roger Marshall, d. Gerry O’Hara) **
  • Change Partners (w. Donal Giltinan, d. Robert Lynn) **
  • Strangler’s Web (w. George Baxt, d. John Llewellyn Moxey) **
  • Dead Man’s Chest (w. Donal Giltinan, d. Patrick Dromgoole) **

5 Responses to Edgar Wallace Mysteries (1960-1965)

  1. Pingback: Clue of the Twisted Candle (1960) | Tipping My Fedora

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  4. Pingback: The Edgar Wallace Anthology | Tipping My Fedora

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