Made at Nettlefold Studios. Location scenes filmed in France. Producer: William Gell. A Monarch Production, released in the U.S.A. by RKO- State Rights Films: September 1959. No New York opening. U.K. release through Monarch: 3 June 1957. Australian release through 20th Century-Fox: 16 October 1958. 7,510 feet. 83 minutes. Cut by 20th Century-Fox to 74 minutes in Australia. U.S. release title: City After Midnight.
SYNOPSIS: A jewel thief's ex-wife is accused of killing her fiancé's father. That's simple and easy to comprehend, isn't it?
NOTES: A film version of a John Dickson Carr novel is such a rarity, it should not go unnoticed, even when the film is not quite up to scratch. In fact, the only other film adaptation of a Carr novel that I can recall is a French movie directed by Duvivier, called "The Burning Court" (1963), starring Nadja Tiller and Jean-Claude Brialy.
Yes, I know about "The Man with a Cloak" (1951) — that's taken from a Carr short story — and "Dangerous Crossing" (1953) — originally a radio play. Which all adds up to four movies all told. Not exactly a roll-call tribute to one of the best thriller writers of the 20th century.
COMMENT: Fair detective yarn. The mystery itself is unusually unexciting for a John Dickson Carr puzzle and though there is a bit of action, proceedings are not helped by sluggish and unimaginative direction and some of the dullest photography ever seen in an "A"- feature.
Still, the principals, Dan O'Herlihy and Phyllis Kirk, are likable, and Petula Clark looks delightfully decorative in a non-singing role.
Unfortunately, a lot of the dialogue is repetitious. The film could be improved by some judicious cutting, particularly of the scenes involving Guido Lorraine's theatrically exaggerated French detective.
OTHER VIEWS: If unsubtle, the many false trails are cleverly devised and dramatically quite effective. The pace is too slow for suspense, but the photography is excellent and the backgrounds authentic. — Monthly Film Bulletin.
A flat, not fully realized adaptation of Carr's novel. — Chris Steinbrunner & Otto Penzler in the "Encyclopedia of Mystery & Detection".