18 June 2016 | Leofwine_draca
Forgotten but intriguing British thriller
An interesting murder mystery that plays havoc with a conventional narrative, THE THIRD ALIBI is one of those intriguing, long-forgotten British thrillers that's well worth a watch for modern audiences. The plot involves the thorough scoundrel Laurence Payne and his efforts to do away with his lovely but ailing wife, played by the eternal Patricia Dainton, so that he can be with lover Jane Griffiths.
There's a neat preamble to the central murder as the characters go through rehearsals; the COLUMBO writers would be proud of the painstaking attention to detail here. In the second half, things become more confused when they don't go exactly to plan, and the film becomes both unpredictable and appealing. My only real complaint is with the moral code of the time which means that certain plot events are easily guessable and quite contrived.
The film was made by the short-lived Eternal Films, who seemed to routinely employ the workmanlike Montgomery Tully as director. They mostly put out low rent crime films although they also dabbled in horror (THE HOUSE IN MARSH ROAD) and comedies (THE CUCKOO PATROL). Dainton gives a fine, fragile performance in this movie, and Griffiths (TREAD SOFTLY STRANGER) does well as the third party involved. Watch out for cameos from singer Cleo Laine and the one and only Dudley Moore, the latter uncredited, but you can see him playing the piano in one scene.