Tag Archives: John Hamilton

The Back of Beyond (1955, Arthur Ripley)

The Back of Beyond has perfectly good production values–it takes place in the West Indies, at a British protectorate island (it’s a Maugham adaptation, where else would it take place)–but director Ripley doesn’t have much going for him.

It’s a play on TV, sure, but he doesn’t know when to use his close-ups and when not to use them. He’s got a fine lead in Alexis Smith as an unfaithful wife (cavorting with her husband’s assistant) and George Macready is great as the husband. Even though Ripley’s direction lacks subtlety, the strange relationship between the couple comes through in the performances.

And Smith does get one rather good monologue towards the end.

Once it becomes clear nothing interesting is going to happen in Beyond, it becomes tiresome. There are all sorts of innuendoes no one ever delivers; Ripley’s not an imaginative director. His actors are good though.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Arthur Ripley; teleplay by Frederick Brady, based on a story by W. Somerset Maugham; director of photography, George E. Diskant; edited by Samuel E. Beetley; produced by Warren Lewis.

Starring Alexis Smith (Violet Saffrey), George Macready (Roger Saffrey), Robin Hughes (Tom Clark), John Hamilton (Fraser), Leonard Mudie (Gannon) and Victor Sen Yung (Peng).


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The Studio Murder Mystery (1932, Joseph Henabery)

The Studio Murder Mystery is a lame little short mystery. It takes place at a Hollywood studio, just before and after a troublesome star is murdered. The before parts aren’t so bad–Henabery has a little fun with the movie in the movie stuff and the scene at the commissary where the cast’s gossip establishes the ground situation works too.

But then there’s the murder and the detectives arrive. Donald Meek’s the criminologist, John Hamilton’s the experienced copper. They have absolutely no chemistry together and Burnet Hershey’s script toggles between the two investigating. They never work together on the case.

The conclusion has a meager chase scene. Studio was obviously done cheap and Henabery just doesn’t have the chops to make a cheap chase work. He also can’t get it to pace well–the mystery is too thin–and Studio drags at nineteen minutes. The last handful are agonizingly boring.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Joseph Henabery; screenplay by Burnet Hershey, based on a story by S.S. Van Dine; director of photography, Edwin B. DuPar; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Donald Meek (Dr. Crabtree), John Hamilton (Insp. Carr), Robert Middlemass (Boris Seminoff), Thelma Tipson (Dolly Demarest), Walter Fenner (Ian Stevens) and Jane Bramley (Mae Norton).


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The Trans-Atlantic Mystery (1932, Joseph Henabery)

The Trans-Atlantic Mystery is an early thirties mystery reduced to two reels. Gone is personality for the protagonist, gone is any humor between protagonist and sidekick; forget about a romantic interest or even any actual investigation.

Instead, it’s some scenes of criminal plotting, some violent activities, introductions to the suspects and then a little bit of suspense.

And, until the finale—when the detectives catch the criminal—it works really well.

But Trans-Atlantic has the benefit of good production values (though director Henabery is mediocre) and some excellent performances. Ray Collins is a vicious criminal who cajoles a victim’s valet into his criminal enterprise. Walter Kingsford is great as the valet (after the first “act,” he has more to do than Collins).

As the detectives, John Hamilton and Donald Meek are too tepid. They—and the rushed resolution—ruin the finale.

It’s too bad, it was rather neat.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Joseph Henabery; screenplay by Burnet Hershey, based on a story by S.S. Van Dine; director of photography, Edwin B. DuPar; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Ray Collins (Waite), Walter Kingsford (Dodge), Betty Pierce (Daisy), John Hamilton (Inspector Carr), Donald Meek (Dr. Crabtree) and Harry T. Morey (Ship’s Captain).


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