11 April 2017 | robert-temple-1
A good old-fashioned action mystery film
This is a good 'rainy afternoon film'. It is harmless, entertaining and well made. It was directed by old pro Richard Thorpe. Robert Taylor plays an independent sailboat owner based on the southern coast of England (with the script explaining why he is an American) who 'takes people where they want to go'. One day a mysterious man with a briefcase who calls himself Mr. Anselm books his boat for a coastal tour. After setting out, he says he wants instead to go to a port in the Netherlands. Taylor is not supposed to do foreign trips without permission from his harbour master, but as he is offered a substantial amount of money by the man (whose briefcase is stuffed with cash), he agrees. The man says he is Dutch and hence does not normally get seasick, but on this occasion he says he does not feel well at all, and goes to lie down in his cabin. Later when Taylor takes him a cup of tea, he finds the man lying dead on his bed. We later discover that he has been murdered by someone tampering with his insulin supply before boarding, as he was a diabetic. Taylor uses the little key hanging round the man's neck on a chain to open the briefcase, and takes the cash owing to him, leaving the rest intact and shutting the briefcase. In using the key, he accidentally discovers that the man has taped to his chest, under his shirt, a small envelope containing a little hand-drawn map. He puts it back and goes back on deck, to steer into the Dutch harbour. Before he can get there, however, a pretty girl comes up in a small motorboat saying that she is the dead man's daughter. Taylor breaks the news to her and she says she wants to look at her father, and goes down below. Taylor follows her after a while and finds her ransacking the cabin, looking urgently for something. She has pried open the briefcase and is searching everywhere. She runs away, gets back in her boat and goes back into the harbour. Taylor looks and sees that the map is still taped to the man's chest, and that she has missed it. He takes it and hides it in his private stowaway with his gun. He later discovers that the girl was an impostor and was not the dead man's daughter at all. The intrigue deepens as Taylor is taken into custody by the Dutch police and removed to the Hague, where a senior Dutch police inspector is played by a gruff Donald Wolfit. He informs Taylor that the dead man was really a Mr Sluiter, who was head of the Hague Police Force. He had made a secret trip to England as part of a confidential investigation. The plot thickens and thickens and thickens, with villains turning up, some unctuous and rich, some thuggish. The fake daughter gets murdered, and there is menace all around. David Kossof is particularly brilliant as a supporting actor, playing a character named Willem Dekker. He adds a great deal of liveliness to the film. This is all good fun and well recommended.