Inspector Lawton (Dennis Price) and Sgt Todd (Rex Garner) investigate a series of murders, in which well off young women are being attacked and robbed after leaving London's trendy nightclubs in the wee small hours. Lawton's younger sister, Joan (Peggy Evans) is engaged to be married to a hard up novelist called Teddy King (Philip Saville) and Lawton is shocked when the evidence points to him as being the killer. However, in a showdown at the docks, it transpires that Teddy has a twin brother who turns out to be the culprit.
Overall, Murder At 3AM is a competent British b-pic that more than served its purpose at the time - to fill the lower half of the double bill and to enable British studios to fill their quota of movies, which The Cinematograph Act of 1927 passed by parliament stated they had to produce. Films like this became known as quota-quickies for that reason and the greater majority of them had a reputation for being awful but from time to time you did get the odd gem that sometimes outshone the main feature. This particular film was released as the supporting feature to Genevieve in 1953. I remember reading a review for this film somewhere stating that it was among the worst of these films made at that time but having seen it I would say that it was competent and entertaining if only in an undemanding way. Mainly because the story is simply your run-of-the-mill murder mystery and there is nothing for which the film can claim any originality and the motive behind the crimes when it comes leaves you thinking "Yeah so what?" I was attracted to it because of the presence of the late but great Dennis Price who sadly gets very little to do here in the role of a Scotland Yard detective but then again the film did not really demand much. The film's best performance comes from Leonard Sharp in a light comedy relief role as an elderly sailor who assists Lawton in tracking down the killer's hideout on the docks. But Old Skip is only willing to help when he is bribed with brandy from Sgt Lawton's hip flask who is annoyed when at the end of it he has none left for himself. The film was directed by quota-quickie specialist, Francis Searle, who keeps the proceedings moving along at a brisk pace ensuring that the audience was kept mildly entertained for the hour and it does not looked as rushed as a number of these pictures all too often did.
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