Portrait of Alison (1956)

Potrait-of-Alison_DVDAlso known as Postmark for Danger, this  is a typically engaging thriller by Francis Durbridge (1912-1998), for many the heir to Edgar Wallace thriller crown. He first came to prominence with his hugely popular Paul Temple serials for BBC radio. He then moved even more successfully into television and wrote several novels and stage plays too. Over a period of forty years he was so popular, in the UK and on the Continent (Germany and Italy especially), as to constitute almost a genre all on his own, one in which innocent men and women have to prove their innocence of murder by unmasking the leader of a gang of smugglers! We begin with a car driving over a cliff in Italy …

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Posted in Film Noir, Francis Durbridge, Italy, London, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 38 Comments

THE DEADLY CLIMATE (1954) by Ursula Curtiss

Curtiss_The-Deadly-Climate_blackdaggerFor years I’ve been meaning to sample the neo-Gothic romantic suspense of Ursula Curtiss (1923-1984) – and after reading a particularly glowing review of this book by that pretty sinister rascal John F Norris, I knew the time had arrived! After a bout of pneumonia and a failed romance, New Yorker Caroline Emmett leaves her overbearing but well-meaning mother and goes to the small town of Wicklow, Mass. to recuperate. But one foggy evening she becomes the witness to a murder and has to go on the run …

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Friday's Forgotten Book, Gothic, New England, Ursula Curtiss | 29 Comments

The Full Treatment (1960) – Tuesday’s overlooked film

The-Full-Treatment_poster2This tale of psychological turmoil is fairly intriguing to start with but does get a bit bogged down before becoming thrillerish a bit too late in the game. It was the last in a run of popular films that writer-director Val Guest (1911-2006) made for Hammer, having put them ‘on the map’ with his Nigel Kneale adaptation, The Quatermass Xperiment. He made over a dozen films for the company and is second only to Terence Fisher as the most distinctive and successful director to be closely associated with the studio. Also known as Stop Me Before I Kill, this adaptation of Ronald Scott Thorn’s novel The Full Treatment is a melodrama about a man who, after a traumatic car accident on his wedding day, becomes irrationally jealous of his wife. Is he going mad – and will this lead to murder?

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Posted in Film Noir, France, Hammer Studios, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, Val Guest | Tagged | 16 Comments

HE WHO WHISPERS (1946) by John Dickson Carr

Carr_He-Who-Whispers_IPLThis classic Golden Age detective story features a seemingly impossible murder and came top of the 2014 John Dickson Carr poll, somewhat to my surprise. I hadn’t read it in a while (well, try 30 years actually, and only in translation) – in fact, I didn’t even include it in my own top 10! Clearly this was the perfect time to re-read this one – is it as good as everybody said? Set immediate before and after the Second World War, we open with a meeting of ‘The Murder Club’ in London and a discussion on an impossible crime …

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, hosted today by Evan Lewis at Davy Crockett’s Almanack.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Audio Review, England, Five Star review, France, Gideon Fell, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery, London | 62 Comments

The Man Who Finally Died (1963)

Man-Who-Finally-Died_poster2Stanley Baker stars in this above-average conspiracy thriller that boasts Bavarian locations, some neat twists and a first-rate supporting cast that includes: Peter Cushing as a sinister doctor; Mai Zetterling, in one of her last film acting roles, as a femme fatale who may be much more than she seems; Niall MacGinnis as an amiable insurance investigator; and Eric Porter and Nigel Green as a pair of less than friendly cops with their own secret agenda. So, what’s it about? Jazz pianist and composer Joe Newman (Baker) is told that his father, a Nazi officer reported dead on the Eastern Front in 1942, is in fact still alive. So he heads off to Germany … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Espionage, Film Noir, Germany, Spy movies, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 28 Comments

Farewell to Brian Clemens (1931-2015)

ProfessionalsNews has belatedly reached Fedora of the passing of Brian Clemens, the creative force behind such classic British TV shows as The Avengers, its 1970s sequel The New Avengers, the anthology drama Thriller and The Professionals. Equally at home with mysteries, science fiction, war dramas, horror and fantasy (as well as the occasional comedy), Brian Horace Clemens OBE (30 July 1931–10 January 2015) was a purveyor of polished, subtly subversive yet unpretentious entertainment. His career stretched over five decades, from the 1954 BBC TV play ‘Valid for One Journey Only’ to US TV mystery dramas like McBride and Jane Doe. But he did a lot more besides …

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Posted in Brian Clemens, RIP | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

THE OBSTINATE MURDERER (1938) and SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (1941) by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

Holding-Devil-and-Obstinate_StarkKousePressA belated Fedora welcome to 2015 after a fantastic Aussie sojourn. This year we open with a double bill from Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1889-1955) that has just been republished by Stark House Press. In both novels, their respective protagonists certainly have their work cut out for them: The Obstinate Murderer is a ‘country house’ style mystery about a spate of poisonings; while Speak of the Devil is set in a tropical island hotel where some say Old Nick himself walks the corridors!

I offer the following reviews as part of Bev’s 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme hosted today by BV Lawson at In Reference to Murder.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Friday's Forgotten Book, Stark House Press | 42 Comments