Alias John Preston (1955)

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Alias John Preston (1955) Poster

Wealthy John Preston arrives in small town Deanbridge. He invests in local businesses and gets involved in community affairs. Eventually, he meets a local belle, Sally, and wins her from ... See full summary »


5.8/10
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12 July 2015 | Bunuel1976
6
| ALIAS JOHN PRESTON (David MacDonald, 1955) **1/2
This obscure psychological thriller, a typical "quota quickie" of British cinema during that period, is notable in hindsight for giving the late Sir Christopher Lee perhaps his first genuine star part; while the film's veritable protagonist, he still receives third (albeit above-the-title) billing after female lead Betta St. John (she would be reunited with the future horror icon on both CORRIDORS OF BLOOD {1958} and THE CITY OF THE DEAD {1960}) and Alexander Knox (who turns up well into the proceedings of this modest 66-minute offering in a role that is basically an extension of his character in Joseph Losey's THE SLEEPING TIGER {1954})! Other respectable names are those of cinematographer Jack Cox (responsible for Alfred Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES {1938}) and director MacDonald (who, after a promising career, seemed unable to surmount the commercial failure of CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS {1949} – which led to him being reduced to helming the likes of DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS {1954}!).

Anyway, while the film under review is bracketed within the horror genre in the few reviews I could find, as I said, it really treads suspense territory – as the ambitious (and, unsurprisingly, supercilious) Lee begins to crack under the strain of a hazy past intermittently re-awakened in a series of "realistic" nightmares. While the first half is somewhat ordinary (another suitor for St. John, smitten since childhood, seems to be on hand merely as someone for her to fall back on after Lee – here in atypically romantic mode – finally goes off the deep end!), the couch sessions between doctor Knox and employer-cum-secret patient Lee (and which, more often than not, take the form of confrontations) grab the attention well enough. Similarly, though the dream sequences are necessarily not of the (perhaps expected) ethereal kind, the revelation packs a definite punch…though, in truth, the movie's title does rather give the game away too readily!

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