29 July 2019 | boblipton
Baker Geoffrey Keene has rats in his store room, and the municipal rat catchers are away on their honeymoon. He's recommended Dermot Kelly who, unknown to Keene or wife Jane Hylton, uses potassium cyanide; even worse, when he breaks the dish he was going to lay poisoned bread in, he uses a baking pan and forgets to wash it out before he goes to spend his money on a spree. As a result, there's a poisoned loaf of bread among the fresh-baked offerings the next morning.
It was a very pleasant mix of comedy and terror. Rat-catcher Kelly, is one of those twee little fellows, playing a practitioner of one of the more grisly professions as the most inoffensive of alcoholics, as one might expect an undertaker or hangman to be in a comedy.
Like my mother used to say, it's all fun and games until someone eats a lethal dose of potassium cyanide and dies in agony, and the film maintains that black comic tone until one of the gossiping women in the shop chooses the deadly loaf and there's a blare to warn the inattentive audience that it's no longer a joke.
Could it have been done better? Yes. Have the women come in a group, gossiping, gossiping; baker's wife Jane Hylton saying "Why don't you choose your own loaf," and we don't know if it's still there, like the bullet in a game of Russian Roulette, until they leave, and the empty spot is revealed.
I'm sure the film makers toyed with the idea of calling this DEVIL'S BREAD, decided it wouldn't fit, because that's specifically hemlock, and settled on the actual coy title. Still, despite a couple of small issues, there's a lot to admire in this tiny British second feature.