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  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have only seen this film once, and that was over two decades ago. Channel 9 in New York, one August, decided to show only British movies all month, and I happened to see this one. I wish it was revived on cable or Channel 13, but it is relatively obscure - unfairly so.

    Herbert Lom has been romancing Eileen Moore, whose father is a wealthy airplane manufacturer played by John Mills. Mills and his wife, Phyllis Calvert, don't like Lom who is older than their daughter, and who is too mysterious in his background. Mills has Lom checked out, and discovers that he is a bad lot. So he goes to Lom to pay him off to leave his daughter alone. But Lom refuses, and in a confrontation, Mills accidentally causes Lom to fall and hit his head (killing him). Mills comes up with a plan to drop Lom's body off on a road and let it look like Lom was the victim of an auto accident.

    Time passes, and for some reason the police fail to notice Lom's absence. Mills grows increasingly nervous - what if they don't discover the corpse. What if they check out Lom's apartment and find some clue that leads back to Mills. Moore, in the meantime, begins to show curiosity about Lom's disappearance. Not that she wanted to continue the relationship with Lom - she has met Sam Wanamaker, an American born attorney who is far more acceptable material as a potential husband.

    Mills tells Calvert about the truth and they start trying to push the authorities (subtly, of course) into attending to the area where the body was dropped. But the details that they manage to drop have an effect that they did not expect. Moore starts wondering if Lom has been killed, and Wanamaker (to show his care for her feelings) takes it upon himself to REALLY push the police into investigating the disappearance. Soon the police do find traces of the incident, but they are looking at it rather darkly - like a murder (which it was). Mills keeps taking time to parry the police thrusts, but finds he has no way of covering up anything from the overly eager Wanamaker. Soon he is in for a second shock, when the dead man's brother shows up (played by Lom again). Now there are several interested parties in the search for the missing man. And the issue is, has Mills plan slipped up, or will he get away with it.

    If the film had been made in America in 1952 the ending would have not been the same. This film had a very satisfactory, surprise ending - if you can catch it do so.
  • Mr. Denning Drives North is directed by Anthony Kimmins and adapted to screenplay from his own novel by Alec Coppel. It stars John Mills, Phyliss Calvert, Eileen Moore, Sam Wannamaker and Herbert Lom. Music is by Benjamin Frankel and cinematography by John Wilcox.

    A splendid collage of murder mystery, noir and thriller - with a slice of Hitchcockian black humour thrown in for good measure, Kimmins' film deserves to be better known. Plot finds Mills as the Mr. Denning of the title, who after accidentally killing what he believes to be his daughter's unscrupulous boyfriend, dumps the body and then finds himself in a whirl of stricken conscience and panic.

    To say more would be to spoil the fun for there are plenty of interesting roads on which the story travels, but it's safe to say the investigation of the missing body is gripping and has a delicious slice of ironic fate about it. Cast are excellent, particularly Mills, with the leads boosted by a roll call of British greats in supporting roles. Frankel provides a very lively musical score and Wilcox's photography has the requisite tonal accompaniments for the unfolding plot. Hats off also to Kimmins, who keeps a tight hold on things to let the drama flow naturally without histrionics.

    From a nifty expressionistic opening to a very cheeky and fulfilling finale, this very much is one for murder mystery, noir, thriller fans to seek out. 7.5/10
  • Somewhat under-rated British suspenser.Mills gives his usual excellent performance, and though the scene where he flies the plane doesn't come off, the film has more than enough compensations. Ending is a little hurried, but this a very watchable movie especially for we lovers of the 1950s British suspense genre.
  • When Tom Denning ( John Mills ) accidentally kills his daughter's boyfriend, he panics and dumps the body in a country lane, hoping that it will be found and thought of, as a hit and run accident. Later when there is no news of the body, being discovered, he and his wife (Phyllis Calvert) start to investigate, along with his daughter's new boyfriend (Sam Wanamaker) ,who is an American lawyer, they get drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery.

    Excellent 50's drama,with good performances from John Mills and Herbert Lom. Only film that I know of with off screen spoken credits.
  • John Mills stars in this excellent suspense picture, very reminiscent of Hitchcock, infact, you'd think it was Alfred directing this, it features some of his trademarks!

    John Mills is excellent, as is the entire cast.

    The screenplay in parts is a little disappointing but overall the picture works. I quite enjoyed the finale, classic stuff!

    Check this film out!
  • AlsExGal21 November 2009
    ...that I remember 27 years after I last saw it anywhere. John Mills plays Mr. Denning the father of a young woman who is seriously dating a mysterious character. Mills investigates his background and doesn't like what he finds, he has an argument with the young man and the fellow falls, hits his head, and dies. Thus Mr. Denning "drives north" into the rural English countryside to dump the body and make the death look like the result of an automobile accident.

    Alas for Mr. Denning, nobody seems to notice this guy's absence, not even his daughter, who tells her Dad - shortly after he has accidentally killed the bad boy boyfriend - that he was right all along about her former boyfriend and that she has fallen for an American attorney. Thus, Mr. Denning's interference, fight with the young man, and cover up of his death were all unnecessary in the first place. Past that point I don't remember too many details except that there were several unexpected twists and turns in the plot and that the end could have not happened in an American film in the 1950's due to the production code.

    What a shame that we have reality TV as far as the eye can see - and even on DVD - and yet this fine old British noir seems to have disappeared off of the face of the earth.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Our local TV station seems to have got hold of a lot of vaguely remembered films - I'm pretty sure I saw this one in the early 70s and vividly remembered the noirish drive as Mr. Denning headed north in the dark. After a novel opening in which a "veddy veddy" English gentleman reads the credits and a dream sequence in which Tom Denning (John Mills) dreams that he is on trial for murder, the film jumps right into the action. Tom is nervous, edgy and a horror to his work mates, something is obviously on his mind but the film goes off the boil a bit for me when he confesses to his wife that he has committed a murder. Phyllis Calvert who would have to be 1940s Britain's favourite movie wife is just a bit too perfect here. After Mills has harrowingly told her the story of his going to warn off sleazy Mados (Herbert Lom) the boyfriend their daughter Liz imagines herself in love with, how a fight starts and Mados is accidentally killed and then Denning drives north so he can dump the body in some out of the way place!! He has been battling the secret for months, thinking initially that the body would soon be found but it hasn't and he is at breaking point!! Apart from the first shock I actually thought Kay Denning was going to say "let's all have a cup of tea". She doesn't but she almost tells Tom to snap out of it and convinces him they should drive to the spot to see if they can locate the body which she half believes is a figment of her husband's imagination.

    Meanwhile flighty Liz finds another boyfriend, Chick Eddowes (Sam Wanamaker), an American attorney who becomes like a dog with a bone when he is initially asked by Denning to try to find out what happened to a missing enamel ring that Tom had put on the dead man's finger to throw people off the scent. Yes, that's right, Denning could not leave well enough alone because when they drive to the spot and find no body there he is determined to leave no stone unturned in his effort to find that body!! Even disguising himself in a pair of thick glasses to question the local mortuary attendant (Wilfred Hyde White is always splendid and then keeps popping up through the movie in the most unlikely places!!). On one hand I'm thinking, like Kay, just forget about it, the body has conveniently disappeared but Tom's job as a high powered aeronautical engineer means he has to find a logical and perfectly sensible reason why!! Meanwhile daughter Liz is completely oblivious to just what is happening to her parents but once the case is in Chick's hands events snowball and Denning can only watch, ready with his confession, until the twist in the tail!!

    The director Anthony Kimmins had a very diverse career, kept busy writing and directing a swag of George Formby films in the late 1930s, then suddenly being handed "Mine Own Executioner" in 1947, a confronting look at the way psychology was used to help a traumatized P.O.W. victim. It proved he could handle meaty drama like "Mr. Denning Drives North" but he ended his career directing light weight comedy and a couple of "Smiley" movies.
  • Perhaps it's in part because the acting is so fine - playing characters we like, yet in a very unsavory situation - this movie stays with me these 20 or so years since I saw it on television.

    This is also one of the relatively few movies before the late 1950s that I can recall that really (purport to) go out into the British countryside: The Clouded Yellow is another example - and a similar style of movie to this (and also very good). Aside from these, I can think of only the Scottish scenes in The 39 Steps, I Know Where I'm Going, How Green Was My Valley, The Stars Look Down. (Suddenly in the late 1950s/1960s, British movies exploded out of London and went a-venturing - in such as This Sporting Life, Look Back in Anger, Tunes of Glory, A Kind of Loving, Room at the Top, Billy Liar, Whistle Down the Wind, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Becket, The Lion in Winter, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tom Jones, Get Carter, Alfie).

    Like The Clouded Yellow, this is the kind of movie patented by Hitchcock - filled with psychological suspense, fast moving plot, attractive actors, physical danger, significant looks, deception.

    I've never seen a video or DVD available - but it's definitely worthwhile seeing it if you get the chance (perhaps on television).
  • pnpete921 December 2019
    This is a well crafted story with many a twist. A lot of b movies were made in this era but would surely have made an excellent main feature with plenty to talk about after. Well worth a watch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    MR. DENNING DRIVES NORTH is an atypical British suspense thriller of 1951, quite unlike anything else I've watched from the era. John Mills plays the everyday hero who accidentally murders his daughter's ne'er-do-well boyfriend, played by the usual scheming Herbert Lom. Instead of going to the police he decides to hide the evidence of his crime, and the story develops from there as the guilt gets to him. It's very unusual to have a murderer characterised as a sympathetic protagonist, but that's the case here.

    Mills eventually turns amateur detective and ends up making a lot of things worse. The film becomes a legal drama in part, as well as a whodunit, but overall this is about suspense. Like other classics such as SOUTHERN COMFORT it keeps you guessing right until the last frame. A fine cast do justice to all their roles, with too many strong performances to pick out any in particular.
  • JohnHowardReid16 September 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    Producers: Anthony Kimmins, Stephen Mitchell. London Film Productions. Copyright 18 December 1951 by British Lion Film Corp., Limited. U.K. release through British Lion: 21 January 1952. U.S. release through Carroll Pictures: floating from January 1954. New York opening at the 72nd Street Trans-Lux: 1 September 1953. Australian release through London Films/Universal Pictures: 24 July 1952. 8,362 feet. 93 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: A successful English industrialist accidentally kills a blackmailer who intended to marry his daughter.

    COMMENT: A little over-weighted with dialogue. And sometimes the humor sits uneasily alongside the drama (and vice verso). But there are still some genuinely suspenseful as well as some genuinely funny moments in "Mr. Denning Drives North".

    Most of the acting is all very earnest — and very pedestrian. Phyllis Calvert's performance especially falls into the latter category. Most of the players lack the right emphases and subtleties of delivery and expression that Sam Wanamaker and Wilfrid Hyde-White bring to their material.

    Still, the plot does contrive several suspenseful twists, and the court-room scenes come over in a moderately exciting fashion. Alec Coppel was later to use the basic idea of his novel and screenplay for a stage item called "The Gazebo" (which was itself made into a movie in 1959 with Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds).
  • I'm a big fan of John Mills, he's made some masterpieces in his time. Sadly, "Mr. Denning Drives North" isn't one of them. The plot can't seem to decide whether to focus on Mills and his mental strain after the tragic events from the film's beginning, or on Sam Wanamaker as the ambitious solicitor who's determined to unravel the truth about John Mills's plight. Frankly, I grew quite irritated with the film. The opening 15 minutes offered a vague hint of something which might have been good. Alas, this was not the case. The conclusion is one of the most ridiculous I've ever seen - and there are plenty to choose from! The supporting cast are wasted. The likes of Raymond Huntley, Wilfred Hyde White and Herbert Lom have little to do. Why couldn't the scriptwriter incorporate their characters into the story properly? John Mills does his best with such bland material and he's the only reason to give this film so much as a side glance.
  • Is this Hitchcock incognito or the Hitch you have when not having Hitch? I'm not always a fan of Hitch but I could imagine him wishing he might have made this movie. Mr Denning certainly offers more than a fair share of suspense and visual challenges to keep the viewer intrigued, and just when it looks like it's all sorted it rolls backwards to challenge us over again. There's also a smart script by the original story writer Alec Coppel (Vertigo)

    It offers nice touches, excitement, good performances (from a fine cast), and some stylish direction and cinematography to keep the mind and eye alert. Whether it ends quite right is up to your own thoughts, but it's so well done you can hardly mind. The new Netwerk transfer to DVD is most pleasing with sharp quality B/W and reasonably priced.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mr Denning played by that nice, lovable Mr Mills, murders his daughter's lover because he's a bit too shady and a bit too foreign. Mills then loses his marbles because he's managed to get away with it, but there's no escaping his own conscience.

    Mills' then undertakes some hapless wanderings about the countryside with ridiculous spectacles and a large trench coat. He starts to get us to sympathise with him, and never mind what happens to the gypsies he drags into the affair.

    By the end of the film, despite Mills' best attempts to get himself hung for murder, he gets off Scot-free with his family willing to go home and forget all about how daddy cracked a man's head open and dumped his body in a ditch.
  • An aircraft designer (John Mills) is edgy and nervous after he accidentally kills his daughter's (Eileen Moore) scheming and duplicitous older boyfriend (Herbert Lom). After he kills him he hides the body in a ditch, but a short while later the body has disappeared. He becomes obsessed in finding out what had happened threatening the relationship with his family.

    A twisty and suspenseful thriller if a little heavy handed in places and has an edginess to it. Written by Alec Coppel, the film balances well the mystery itself with the strain of the incident has on his marriage and family.
  • writers_reign26 October 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Trivia question. What did Ralph Richardson and John Mills have in common? Answer: They both played aircraft manufacturers on screen in subsequent years. Richardson in The Sound Barrier in 1952 and Mills in this movie one year earlier. Actually only Richardson's job had any relevance to the theme of the movie, as Mr. Denning Mills could just as easily have been manufacturing shoe laces as aircraft. A weakness in the plot is having an American lawyer at all then having shoe-horned him into a very English setting, naming him Chick Endicott, as all this does is draw attention to the fact that Alec Coppell knows as much about America as I do about the life cycle of the Liver Fluke. Not that the plot itself is either realistic or credible despite which it holds our attention. Reasonable time-passer.
  • evans-1547510 January 2021
    Probably the worst piloted film I've ever seen John mills actions made absolutely no sense