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  • malcolmgsw6 July 2020
    Warning: Spoilers
    This plot had whiskers on it back in 1937.The plot device of a supposedly dead person reappearing when presumed dead is suspending belief beyond reasonable portions.The director fails to restrain his leading man who goes way over the top.Incidentally the £12000 blackmail is equivalent to £570000 today.
  • If we were reviewing this 51-minute mystery/drama in 1937, when it was released, we might have been inclined to give it an 8 out of 10 rating overall. But it's about 80 years later, and as much as we may try to keep art in its own perspective, most of us are jaded by the slicker films produced since then.

    The screenplay was an adaptation of the play "Double Error" by John Lee Thompson. When a screenplay is faithful to a play, immediate objections are raised. But "talkiness" and "static set" charges are not flaws to the entire audience - some may prefer dialogue to sensational effects. Welwyn Studios, where this was shot, had thin walls and inferior acoustics - originally it was a base for the production of silent films. It was susceptible to regular unwanted sound effects, speaking of effects, being situated near a noisy Nabisco shredded wheat factory and a noisy main-line railroad.

    Colin Keith-Johnston as Martin turns in a fine nervous desperation performance, with only a couple of short lapses into melodramatic "moments of epiphany," staring too long to absorb shock, and leaving his mouth open a bit too long than modern audiences will tolerate as normal response to horror. Keith-Johnston makes us feel his pain, so his acting mission is accomplished, I'd say. A nice counterpoint to his well- and reasonably-sustained agony is Leslie Perrins' (Owen's) laid-back delivery.

    There's an original plot. Keith-Johnston makes two dreadful discoveries as he careens into insanity, hence the title of the play, double error. We wonder how he'll fight back. Shoot Owen? Skip town? Shoot himself? We really don't know until the end, and we remain interested in his fate.

    There's only one clear implausibility, having to do with the "window seat/chest," but to tell you about it would be to commit a "spoiler." Without it, I would have given the film a 9 out of 10.

    It's directed by Walter Summers, who has a horror/mystery track record of 1920s and 1930s movies.

    Suffice it to say this one is worth 51 minutes of your day. Unfortunately it's not available on VHS or DVD, and you must wait for some kind soul to upload it to You-Tube from the nitrate print, which still lives, parked in the British Film Institute files.
  • When Leonora Corbett phones Colin Keith-Johnson that she wants to give their marriage another chance, he tries to buy off his lover Judy Kelly. She wants to stick around for the wife, with a gun. There's a struggle, and Keith-Johnson sticks the inconvenient body in a trunk and begins to figure out how to get rid of it.

    The 1930s seems to have had a rash of people trying to meld these melodramatic situations and climaxes with a more grounded base and some Grand Guignol accents. In America we got bodies stuck in trunks in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, and in Great Britain, the Boulting Brothers early tried their hand with DESIGN FOR MURDER. This particular movie is based on a stage show by J. Lee Thompson, who went more whole-heartedly into films, most memorably with international productions like THE GUNS OF NAVARONNE.

    This one is short, with a decent twist, and some reasonably insane cackling.