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  • The theft of an emerald coincides with a policeman's murder by a serial killer in "The Hour of 13," starring Peter Lawford, Dawn Addams, Roland Culver, and Derek Bond. Lawford stars as Nicholas Revel, an attractive young man in league with a ring of thieves that steals jewels and then gives them back to the insurance company and collects the reward. Unfortunately, "The Terror," a murderer who targets the bobbies of London, has just struck his latest victim on the property Revel is inside robbing. The police assume the murderer also stole the emerald. Revel needs to solve the case, or help the police solve it, so that the stone can be delivered without anyone being arrested. Scotland Yard becomes suspicious.

    Peter Lawford is plenty dreamy-looking in this film and his speaking voice is devastating. What a shame he was content to drink, hang with Frank, and play "Password." He was really something.

    "The Hour of 13" is entertaining, though no great shakes. Its atmosphere is studio-manufactured and loaded with dry ice for fog effects. If you like the urbane, Raffles type of thief, you'll enjoy this.
  • The Hour of 13 is directed by Harold French and adapted to screenplay by Leon Gordon and Howard Emmett Rogers from the novel "Mystery of the Dead Police" written by Philip MacDonald. It stars Peter Lawford, Dan Addams, Roland Culver, Derek Bond, Leslie Dwyer and Michael Hordern. Music is by John Addison and cinematography by Guy Green.

    1890, London, and a serial killer known as The Terror is murdering policemen. When gentleman thief Nicholas Revel unwittingly becomes the chief suspect, he must use his guile and wits to prove he's not the killer; whilst also not getting caught for a jewel robbery he has just committed.

    A dandy thief and a serial killer on a collision course.

    Philip MacDonald's novel had already been adapted to screen for the 1934 film, The Mystery of Mr. X, making this a remake. The Hour of 13 is a little cracker of a movie, a genre splicer of some worth, it's part murder mystery, part police procedural, part romance, part robbery and also funny as well. These all make the picture narratively strong, the threads running concurrently but never once threatening to be complex or cloy the picture.

    The backdrop is Victorian London, resplendent with glistening cobbled streets, bulbous street lamps and drizzly mist, where horse drawn taxis thunder down the roads. The protagonists are dandy gents, chirpy workers or beautiful ladies. The antagonist is a Jack the Ripper type, stealthily moving about the murky streets on a mission to kill policemen. We are in a time when wearing a policeman's helmet can land you one day in prison, where the British Bobby patrols the streets to make the locals feel safe, but they themselves are now not safe.

    There's splendid performances across the board, with a chance to view the gorgeous Dawn Addams in one of her very first roles, a potent score from Addison and the work of French and Green is atmospherically tight to the plotting. Delightful film that deserves to be better known. 8/10
  • Just saw this film for the first time since it's release in 1952. I was 10 years old then and quite enjoyed it. I must say that it has held up pretty well. No great entry in the Victorian, foggy street mystery genre, but it keeps ones interest throughout.

    This movie, by the way, was shot in MGM's British studio and features a fine line up of English actors who turn in typically solid performances.

    One more thing: this was by no means one of MGM's major productions for 1952. In fact, it pretty much qualifies as a B movie (except for running time); that is, a second, and cheaper, feature on a double bill. By 1952, the traditional B movie (as opposed to pictures that merely had lower budgets than the headlining A efforts) had just about disappeared. Soon, virtually all movies could be classed as A pictures, with the possible exception of the shoestring productions by little companies that often ended up at the local drive-in.

    My point is this: studios such as MGM, when they consciously turned out the 60-65 minute movies that were shot in a couple of weeks at most, still maintained a fairly high standard of quality. One can think of the Val Lewton horror films at RKO-Radio Pictures or. . . well, or "The Hour of 13!"
  • Love murder/detective mysteries, particularly ones in period settings (Agatha Christie springs to mind), loved the idea for the story and while not usually a fan of Peter Lawford the intriguing cast (have always liked Michael Hordern) promised a lot. 'The Hour of 13' was one of those films that seemed like it would be right up my alley.

    'The Hour of 13' turned out to be enjoyable, diverting and well done, was hoping that would be the case and it was. It will never be one of my favourites and it doesn't blow the mind, but there is a lot to enjoy and fans of the genre won't be too disappointed. Also liked that 'The Hour of 13' didn't try to do too much, knew what it wanted to be and didn't try to be more than it needed to be.

    Sure, there could have been more suspense and dread and parts are a little too heavy on the seriousness making one feel that the lightness seen in other parts was more consistent and that one could invest emotionally a bit more.

    Occasionally, the pace could have been tighter.

    However, 'The Hour of 13' is a handsome-looking film, with atmospheric and handsomely crafted period detail, an appropriate moodiness in the photography and lighting and editing that is never sluggish or frenzied. The music is suitably haunting and while the direction is not especially distinctive it still keeps things interesting.

    Much of the time, the script is thoughtful and doesn't get limp or confused. The story may not be much new but has a nice atmosphere and it avoids over-simplicity and convolution, more often than not engaging. The villain does carry off the right amount of menace. The characters carry the film well as do the cast. Lawford's performance is one of his better ones, and classy Dawn Addams and authoritative Michael Hordern are standouts of the accomplished supporting cast.

    Concluding, enjoyable fun and works nicely as a film of its genre. Just don't expect anything exceptional. 7/10 Bethany Cox
  • Panamint4 September 2015
    This film features quick, effective editing of sometimes rapid-fire scenes that were obviously well thought out and sequenced with care. The black and white cinematography is good and I believe the whole production is finely crafted. The potential for any real emotional depth of feeling is somewhat stifled overall by the recurring criminal murder subject matter, which is persistently heavy and serious throughout the movie. However, the related jewel thief angle is lighter in tone and is done in an intricate cat-and-mouse manner that I really enjoyed.

    After the early pretty-boy stage of his career delivering Technicolor "first kisses" to teenage actresses and such, and before his post- 1960 period of boozy hipster parts culminating in his final downward spiral into drug abuse and drunkenness, Peter Lawford did a lot of TV and made some films on both sides of the Atlantic including this one. In "The Hour of 13" (a title of significance to the story, to be explained late in the film) Lawford portrays a charming jewel thief. He does a workmanlike job, is very charming and handsome as always, and is fine as long as you don't stop to ponder how superbly Rex Harrison would have played the part.

    Dawn Addams is perfectly cast as the intelligent, classy daughter of Michael Hordern's Scotland Yard inspector. Other first rate British actors contribute solid performances.

    The Victorian London streets, fog and ambiance are well done. The era is depicted as a real time and place, not a nostalgia trip, and is devoid of any mimicry or denigration of Victorian stereotypes.

    The general viewer will probably enjoy this film as I did if they can appreciate older, very British movies and are interested in seeing Peter Lawford at this stage of his career.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although "The Hour of 13" doesn't top its predecessor, this polished but minor MGM item still qualifies as an entertaining, above-average, mystery thriller with a good cast, atmospheric studio settings, and competent direction. Arguably, "The Hour of 13" ranks as one of Peter Lawford's better starring roles in his extremely uneven and spotty career as a leading man. Released in 1952, during the notorious McCarthy era, this Harold ("Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue") French directed film looks as if it were subjected to harsher censorship than its 1934 original. Nevertheless, scenarists Howard Emit Rodgers & Leon Gordon integrate the approved social propaganda seamlessly into their screenplay about what happens when a vindictive serial killer who ices British Bobbies on the beat in cold blood crosses paths with a handsome gentlemen jewel thief in London sometime during the 1890s. The Terror, the name by which the killer is known, murders a policeman near a house where a dinner party is in progress. As it turns out, the Lawford character has just filched a valuable jewel from around a lady's neck and is in the process of making good his escape when he stumbles onto the dead bobby. Mistakenly, the police suspect that the serial killer and the jewel thief are one in the same. As Connor, a high-ranking Scotland Yard inspector, actor Roland ("Thunderball") Culver makes a tenacious adversary. When Lawford comes forward to testify that the British officer that the police have arrested could not have been the murderer, Connor suspects that the Lawford character may be the killer himself in this cat & mouse Victorian mystery-thriller. The Rodgers and Gordon dialogue is very British and wonder to listen to.

    Between 1935 and 1968, the Catholic Church forced Hollywood filmmakers to alter their movies to accommodate the Legion of Decency or weather a boycott. This pressure advocacy group demanded that Hollywood show the police in a positive light and that criminals must be punished for their crimes. "The Hour of 13" does a splendid job of observing the Production Code while allowing us to sympathize with Peter Lawford's urbane jewel thief Nicholas Revel. No, I won't divulge the surprise ending, since it needs to be experienced first-hand to be enjoyed, but "The Hour of 13" should leave you satisfied. Incredibly, the police are smart for a change, though they make an occasional mistake (check out the 'switch the liquor glass' scene), and the Peter Lawford anti-hero (he does steal for a living) often finds himself in several suspenseful tight spots. When he isn't tangling with the serial killer, he is dodging the nimble-witted Connor and a number of undercover London policemen assigned to shadow his every move. Dawn Addams provides the romantic interest as the daughter of a London cop who is engaged to marry an Army officer. Initially, Scotland Yard suspected the Army officer because he was found with the dead policeman's helmet in his hands. It is interesting that the Lawford character has no love interest and that the Dawn Addams character remains devoted to her husband-to-be. Of course, when the suitor discovers that Revel and his intended have dined together often he is disturbed. The revelation of the serial killer's motives is a nice touch. The Connors character poses more of a threat to Revel than the serial killer.

    Anybody who has perused any books about Frank Sinatra and the infamous Rat Pack, of which Lawford was a member until Frankie gave him the boot) or books about MGM stars will really enjoy "The Hour of 13." According to books like The Rat Pack and The Men of M-G-M, Lawford severely damaged his right arm during his youth. Reportedly, he smashed it through a French door and did more damage to it when he extracted it. Consequently, his right arm remained virtually useless, except for minor things such as shaking hands, opening & shutting doors, and holding books. He relied visibly on her left hand and often anchored his right in his pants pocket. Armed with that knowledge, you'll be able to fully savor Lawford's performance. In the long shots, in a scene set in a darkly-lit warehouse, our heroic jewel thief fights with the villain and uses his right arm. Clearly, this was a double, because Lawford could not have perfromed in this on-screen fracas owing to his physical impairment. If you like inside production information, background stuff like this will elevate your appreciation of all things Lawford.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Photographic effects: Tom Howard. Music composed and conducted by John Addison; played by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Produced by Hayes Goetz (pronounced "Gets").

    Copyright 19 September 1952 by Loew's Inc. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture. New York opening at the Little Carnegie: 27 October 1952. U.S. release: November 1952. U.K. release: 8 December 1952. Australian release: 21 November 1952. 7,031 feet. 79 minutes. Censored by one minute in Australia in order to gain a "G" Certificate.

    SYNOPSIS: In 1890, London is shocked at the number of murders of policemen taking place in varied sections of the city. They are always advertised beforehand by a postcard sent to Scotland Yard and signed "The Terror". On the day that the newspapers announce the murder of the eighth policeman, Nicholas Revel (Peter Lawford), an insurance assessor named MacStreet (Colin Gordon), and Ernie Perker (Leslie Dwyer), a hackney cab driver, conspire to steal the immensely valuable Calgurie Emerald at a society ball given by its owner, Mrs. Chumley Orr (Heather Thatcher). The ball is an important affair for other people besides Revel and his accomplices because Jane (Dawn Addams), daughter of the Commissioner of Scotland Yard, Sir Herbert Frensham (Michael Hordern), had decided that her engagement to Captain Sir Christopher Lenhurst (Derek Bond) will be announced there. Revel succeeds in stealing the emerald, but makes one blunder. Having hidden the jewel, he throws its chain and clasp out of a window and it lands at the feet of the ninth of the "Terror's" victims. Thus, when the police find the body, they associate the murderer with the robbery.

    COMMENT: Good thriller, smoothly directed and agreeably acted — a bit disappointing though for a Philip MacDonald work and the director could have made more play on the suspense and mystery element of "The Terror".

    OTHER VIEWS: When Dawn Addams stepped before the cameras in England for her role opposite Peter Lawford in M-G-M's mystery-thriller "The Hour of 13", it marked a gratifying moment for the attractive young actress. It was little less than two years ago when Miss Addams first set foot in Metro's London studios to be tested for the role of Judy Miniver in The Miniver Story. Although her test was praised the role subsequently went to Cathy O'Donnell.

    After that disappointment, Miss Addams went to Hollywood, where she made another test for M-G-M and this time was signed to a long-term contract. She made an auspicious debut as the young college girl who became involved in an auto smash-up with Ray Milland in "Night Into Morning", and followed with the role of Richard Anderson's fiancée in "The Unknown Man". She was next be seen as a member of the all- star cast in "Plymouth Adventure".

    Born in Suffolk, England, Dawn spent the first five years of her life in India, where her father was stationed with the Royal Air Force. During the war years she lived for a time in England, was evacuated to Wales, spent two years in the United States, then returned to England in 1945. She subsequently studied at the Royal Academy of Drama in London and won her first stage role at the famed Drury Lane Theater. - MGM publicity.
  • Peter Lawford stars as Nicholas Revel, a jewel thief who is mistaken for a serial killer of London police officers. To clear himself, Revel has to catch the real killer. An improbably plotted, cliche-ridden, mildly entertaining mystery with Lawford as his usual handsome, debonair, bland self. Not much action except for an effective fight between Revel and the murderer at the film's climax. The cast wanders through a foggy, gaslit studio set that looks like it was left over from a Sherlock Holmes film. This sort of story has been done worse, but it has been done better, too. Mostly it has been done too often.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yet another London fog mystery. And channeling the Jack the Ripper story to some extent, The Hour Of 13 uses one criminal (a thief played by Peter Lawford) to catch another (a serial killer of policemen known as The Terror).

    Sir Herbert (Michael Horndern) runs Scotland Yard. His daughter Jane (Dawn Addams) is betrothed to Sir Christopher (Derek Boyd). Nicholas (Lawford) gets in Jane's good graces by clearing her fiancee as a suspect. He then proposes that he has a plan to catch the Terror; is her father interested?

    Indeed he is. Nick's plan "shows a knowledge of the criminal mind." Wonder why that is. Jane supports him, but the cops aren't biting just yer; Jane basically says she'll collaborate with him. After all, she's privy to a loftof police business. Almost seems that Nick is playing another angle with her; that is, he's probably as interested in her as he us in finding out who the murderer is.

    Not being dumb by any means, the cops pretty much figure out his game. Anyway, Jane invites him to meet Sir Christopher. The detective, Conner (Roland Carver) gets the idea of shadowing Nick. Nick tells Christopher of his vague plans. Oh, man here's another constable bobbing through his beat in the middle of the night: The Terror gets him.

    Conner comes calling on Nick for a little "chat." Suddenly, Conner announces that they're going to implement his plan after all. It sounds like a set-up. On the way to Scotland Yard, Nick fobs off the priceless purloined emerald in the care of his cabbie friend, Ernie (Leslie Dwyer). We find that there's always a cryptic clue before each murder (we're up to 13 of those now).

    Jane's still hanging out with Nick. And he's back to being at least a person of interest to Conner. I can't figure out how Nick is found more often in Jane's company than her actual fiancee. He admits to her that he's "a fraud." He tells Christopher that he's backing off of her, at any rate. She's not happy with that; she thinks he's in love with her, or was. Another warning, that is, another cop might get murdered. The cabbie tells Nick that they're "done for" as the police have connected both of them to the jewel robbery.

    Nick literally connects the dots, and comes up with a cunning plan. The murders' locations make the shape of a 'T' geographically ('T' for The Terror). If Nick can foil the upcoming murder attempt, the police will look the other way on his little heist. Nick, dressed up as a constable, positions himself in the likely area for the murder. How he's going to deal with The Terror is a different question. So, the police, believing that Nick is the Terror, seek him out.

    He relieved the officer who's actually on that beat: basically putting a target on his back; also, the regular cop doesn't buy Nick's story, and reports it. The Terror attacks Nick art right, but a ride let's Nick avoid getting speared by a sword. Nonetheless, the guy manages to shoot Nick. In a protracted chase and fight, Nick finally overcomes the Terror, who falls to his death. Somehow the emerald is found on the murderer. Nonetheless, Max confessed to his part in the theft; so Nick is still down on that count. The end.

    It's fairly clear that Nick will probably not lose too much sleep from the robbery indictment; but it looks like the game is up with Jane. I kind of wish there was another scene with him and Jane; their would-be romance is a major subplot, although he has tactical reasons for shutting her out, it seems that they're well-suited to each other. Then he just loses interest.

    Having said that, this was much better than I expected. The premise of criminal chasing criminal is slick; at the same time, Nick is a sort of 'gentleman' crook, as opposed to the obviously psychotic Terror. The Jane/Christopher/Nick triangle adds another comparison of opposites, as well as its level of drama. Lawford has a role that he's best at, Addams makes a trusting yet beguiling love interest, and the supporting cast is uniformly up to the task.

    The foggy sets provide the authentic atmosphere--never mind that were probably dealing with a studio version of Victorian London. The screenplay, plot, and pacing fit together well (aside from my issue with the romance). A well-conceived and and entertaining murder mystery.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . "London," where people are constantly knifed, bombed or run over on bridges, where mobs of terrorists wearing identical mustache-and-goatee masks love to stash explosives under the governing chambers, where people drive around in cut-off vans in order to lob mortar shells up at the Executive Row-house, where subway trains sometimes go off like strings of firecrackers, where detached celebrity noggins are traditionally left outside to rot on pikes, where plagues and fires frequently clean the collective house and where Crown Princes often are suspected of carving up the working gals of the Red Light Districts. Tabbed with keeping order here are washed-out golfers who retire to "Scotland Yard," augmented by the original inspiration for the hapless, hopeless Keystone Cops, nicknamed the "Bobby's." Since these sorry lots are totally ineffectual when it comes to both crime detection and crime prevention, altruistic outsiders such as Sherlock Holmes, Ms. Marple and that Belgian dude with the hard-to-spell name feel compelled to help keep a smidgen of order by solving a few of London's more notorious crimes during their Amateur Hours. THE HOUR OF 13's Nick Revel is just another sleuth goof running circles around the official authorities out of his sense of Civic Duty.
  • In 1890 London, an 8th policeman is murdered by a serial killer. High class jewel thief Nicholas Revel (Peter Lawford) gets pulled in as the police tries to connect the murders with a stolen emerald.

    It has a bit of the Sherlockian vibe. By no means am I saying that the character is Sherlock. It's the Victorian London murder mystery aspect. It does meander around with the trial and after it. Honestly, I'm not following some of this. It does end with thrilling action. All in all, I like tone and the style of this.
  • bkoganbing24 November 2020
    The Hour of 13 casts Peter Lawford as a man who has lived beyond his means in Victorian London and has embarked on a life of crime. He decides with a pair of confederates to steal a most valuable emerald.

    Lawford has thought this one through and at the same time he's doing his thieving there's a madman, a jack the ripper type using a sword is tabbing to death as many of London's bobbys as he can find. Lawford reasons that Scotland Yard is way too busy looking for this maniac to devote too much time to a jewel robbery.

    Not telling any more other than Lawford's scheme nearly blows up in his face with all his fine finessing.

    This MGM film was done over in the United Kingdom where Lawford returned to the old country to work with Dawn Addams, Derek Bond, Roland Culver, and Michael Hordern. Lawford fits well into the era along with his fellow British players.

    Nice slice of late Victorian London.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A bobby, I learned , is a British slang word for cop, which itself is a slang word for policeman. In London, they are actually constables who work for Scotland Yard, and one by one, a dozen of them have been bumped off, stabbed to death by a vicious killer. Jewel thief Peter Lawford happens to commit a burglary (stealing a valuable emerald), and in his escape attempt, comes across the body of the latest victim. The necklace is left behind minus the emerald, and the jewel theft and murder are all of a sudden tied together. Lawford cleverly comes up with a way of both finding the killer and getting away with being able to get rid of the emerald and end up with double the profit, not only via the reward, but by the sale of the gem as well.

    While there is definitely some cleverness to this, it takes a while for that to settle in, the first quarter of this film being rather dry and humorless. Lawford does make fun of himself though in a scene where his character breaks into song and he is clearly off key, one of the listeners telling him politely how truly horrible he is. Dawn Addams plays the pretty daughter of the head of Scotland Yard (Michael Hordern) who is grateful to Lawford to coming to her fiancée's rescue. Roland Culver is the other officer whom Lawford turns the tables on after trying to give him a knock-out drug.

    The result of this remake of "The Mystery of Mr. X" is that it isn't at all spooky, eerie, foggy or really even a mystery because you know who's guilty of what, but in the case of the killer, you just don't know why. It isn't dreary, just nothing out of the ordinary.