This may be included in the Edgar Wallace Mysteries set but it
garnered high praise at the time from critics, even scoring a thumbs
up from the prestigious Films and Filming.
It starts ambiguously with some sexy banter between Ann and Tim -
Tim trying to persuade her to return to the West End in his new play
"you're miscast here among the plants and chickens"!! A stoical Ralph
(Anthony Bates) looks on - for now, Ann is content to be his wife and
they have been planning a holiday house swap - which goes horribly
wrong. Thinking they're getting a posh West End flat with London views,
they get the run around - a bogus address and their own stately home
being fleeced of all it's valuables (even the police sneer at "people who
happily hand over their keys to strangers"). However by the time the Longmans arrive home the contents have been mysteriously
But things are all wrong - Ann's beloved garden has been vandalized, the
chickens and pet canary have been poisoned and during a riotous party
one of the drunken guests stumbles on their little dog - dead. I think the
one hole in this story is that they don't immediately suspect Tim who was
the only person who knew the deep affection that Ann felt for the garden and her little peke. Certainly not the people who were going
to house-sit, the very working class Dandy Nichols and Duncan Lewis -
what would they be doing with posh digs in the theatre district!! - alarm
bells should have been raised!! Ann can't cope with anything and goes
rushing off to - Tim, who she had had an affair with before her marriage.
Ralph does some sleuthing when he finds out from the police that
another house in the area had been burgled by the same "house swap
gang" which starts him thinking - why was their house spared? It leads
him to a shady antique dealer who finally admits their house had been
targeted but a man returning for his overnight bag had stopped them
in their tracks!!
Some fabulous scenes - the opening shot as Tim pursues Ann through
the garden, a scene in which Ann is dressing for bed, she is chatting
but there is no response, someone trips over in the dark - but it's only
Ralph. Ann's face has ran the myriad of emotions. And because of Ann
and Tim's theatricality Ralph comes across as taciturn and moody, making
him a good red herring!! Also for a cheap production, Tim's flat was
incredibly stylish with a elongated couch and a long narrow glass
top coffee table that really made the seductive scenes between
Ann and Tim pretty suggestive!!
Both John Carson (the man with the James Mason voice) and Anthony
Bate could play their roles in their sleep - they are in top form here.
Justine Lord was terrific as the shallow and weak Ann. In lots of series
she was often pretty window dressing but here she shows real acting
depth. After this, TV director Alan Bridges was compared to Losey and
Antonioni but he never reached those heights - his big movies were
"The Return of the Soldier" and "The Shooting Party" from the 1980s.
Very, very recommended!!