The Impersonator (1961)

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The Impersonator (1961) Poster

In a small English town a schoolmistress meets a sergeant from the nearby U.S. airforce base and they decide on a date. When they miss each other at a cafe as arranged, a train of events is... See full summary »


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20 March 2014 | matthewmercy
| A cup of tea and a suggestive biscuit...
Alfred Shaughnessy's The Impersonator (1961) is one of those thought- forgotten little films that has seen its profile rise in the last few years, in this case because horror film experts like Kim Newman and Pete Walker have praised it and made it clear to their considerable fan followings that it is worth tracking down (for a comprehensive appraisal of the film, check out Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane's excellent book on the history of British B-movies). A lowly supporting feature from cheapjack outfit Bryanston Films, it stars in the lead role Hollywood also-ran John Crawford as a US Airforce sergeant who finds himself accused of murdering a local woman whilst stationed in a small English town. As he tries to clear his name with the help of a friendly schoolteacher (Jane Griffiths), the murdered woman's eight year-old son (John Dare) gradually reveals various snippets of information that will lead the police to the real killer, a psychopathic pantomime dame played by veteran character actor John Salew...

Though hampered by its short running time, The Impersonator does feature some unexpected grace notes that set it at a level above most British B- movie fare; notably, the unpleasant inhabitants of the town in which the murder takes place are economically characterised by various bit-part players through just a few lines of dialogue, whilst the acting of Dare (giving surely one of the most underrated child performances in British film) and Salew (skin-crawlingly perverse as the 'dirty old man' killer) is in both cases excellent. Definitely one of the stronger second features that proliferated in British film during the 1950s and 60s.

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