Penny and the Pownall Case (1948)

  |  Drama, Mystery


Penny and the Pownall Case (1948) Poster

A glamour model helps Scotland Yard to catch a criminal gang.


5.8/10
122

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18 July 2015 | Bunuel1976
6
| Penny AND THE POWNALL CASE (Slim Hand, 1948) **1/2
This 45-minute (i.e. barely feature-length) thriller is odd for being a Rank Organization release – perhaps it was just an experiment to test the possible star qualities of a number of talents: if so, this would certainly prove true for an impossibly-youthful Christopher Lee (rather stiff in his first villainous role) and Diana Dors (then still a brunette). For the record, these two would be credited (as opposed to appearing, since they share no scenes here) together again in HANNIE CAULDER (1971; which I eventually caught up with at a later time on the same day as this viewing) and NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT (1973; Lee's solitary foray into production).

The narrative recounts a most typical detective yarn: World War II was still fresh enough to make the baddies fugitive Nazis passing on their coded messages via cartoons (drawn by Lee) innocuously inserted in periodicals – shades of Ealing's seminal comedy HUE AND CRY (1946). Another much-abused element is the fact that the heroine, a fanatic of (and even model for) the animated form, eventually assumes amateur sleuth duties – thus looking forward to the best Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis vehicle, i.e. Frank Tashlin's ARTISTS AND MODELS (1955) – and effectively solves the case for Scotland Yard (while conveniently winning the affections of the Inspector probing the mystery, whose secretary {Dors} happens to be her flatmate).

Ultimately, the film is no lost classic – but it is certainly harmless, if anything, worth viewing in order to catch Lee and Dors at the start of their respective careers. While this was the curiously-named Slim Hand's sole effort as director, it is interesting to note a Philip Saville among the supporting cast – soon to take up a directorial vocation himself, and among whose most notable work is an acclaimed BBC rendition of Bram Stoker's COUNT Dracula (1977)…which, of course, would eventually also become Lee's signature part!

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Drama | Mystery

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