blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It (1941, Walter Forde)

Gordon Harker and Alastair Sim star in INSPECTOR HORNLEIGH GOES TO IT, directed by Walter Forde for 20th Century Fox.

For the final Inspector Hornleigh picture, the filmmakers go propaganda. They do have some fun with it—the film’s first sequence is Gordon Harker and Alastair Sim on an army base, undercover as aged privates, investigating scrounging. It’s all played for laughs, sort of wasting some of the running time before Harker and Sim can get onto the bigger case (Nazi spies).

Unfortunately, the Nazi spy part of the film is never particularly interesting. Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It feels like a sequel where no one involved with the previous two worked on it (though they did). Harker’s character spends multiple scenes impersonating other people, hiding his identity as a police inspector—it’s as though the filmmakers decided to make that method his gimmick. As for Sim, as the bumbling sidekick, he has slightly less to do. The film’s rather disjointed; there’s no nice transition between the army base part and the remainder (in fact, I’m pretty sure the two of them are AWOL).

Forde does a fine job directing, even though he doesn’t have much interesting to shoot. The conclusion has a lot of potential but it’s too short; there’s no time for it.

There’s some bad acting too. Percy Walsh is Harker’s rival—apparently, Harker’s the joke of Scotland Yard and just doesn’t realize it, which also goes for making the film’s place in the series perplexing. The rivalry is lame and Walsh is awful.

So’s Raymond Huntley.

It’s got some charm, but it’s a worn out franchise.



Directed by Walter Forde; screenplay by J.O.C. Orton and Val Guest, based on a story by Frank Launder and characters created by Hans Wolfgang Priwin; director of photography, Jack E. Cox; edited by R.E. Dearing; produced by Edward Black; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Gordon Harker (Inspector Hornleigh), Alastair Sim (Sergeant Bingham), Phyllis Calvert (Mrs. Wilkinson), Edward Chapman (Mr. Blenkinsop), Charles Oliver (Dr. Wilkinson), Raymond Huntley (Dr. Kerbishley), Percy Walsh (Inspector Blow), David Horne (Commissioner), Peter Gawthorne (Colonel), Wally Patch (Sergeant Major), Betty Jardine (Daisy) and O.B. Clarence (Professor Mackenzie).


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