2 December 2013 | Goingbegging
Agatha Christie mix
If, like myself, you were just wanting a glimpse of Stanley Baker before he was famous, don't bother. The man is literally unrecognisable, both facially and in screen personality, playing a mentally sub-normal servant in an elegant country house. Unfortunately he doesn't carry much conviction in the role, and just trogs about like the Holy Fool with Frankenstein thrown in. The Baker we love to hate was still a year or two away.
You should remember that this was only a supporting feature, just over an hour long, and as such, it provides undemanding fare. Sixty years on, this is its charm, with every cliché in place, almost an Agatha Christie story, with a shooting-party, the regulation retired major, some deferential police, and an upper-class smoothie (Guy Rolfe) squiring an impossibly beautiful Rona Anderson as the heiress whose new fortune has suddenly put her life in danger. All flavoured with the blend of cut-glass English and Shepperton cockney, without which no 1951 thriller was complete.
Alan Wheatley is just a little too unctuous as the boss of a children's charity, so we're not exactly unprepared for trouble in paradise. Terence Fisher's direction was generally praised, though it didn't really need that opening scene at the airport to establish that the young lady was returning from abroad. And Francis Lister fans may be interested to catch him here in his last film, still on fine form.