Tag Archives: John Loder

The Brighton Strangler (1945, Max Nosseck)

While a lot of The Brighton Strangler meanders, there are some rather effective moments in the film. It's a B picture, with John Loder as an actor suffering from amnesia who imagines himself his latest role–a murderer. The film's set in London, with blackouts and air raids–not to mention service people–all part of the setting and story.

Loder has a difficult part; he needs to be both menacing and sympathetic. Unfortunately, the film doesn't really want to deal with the question of responsibility and hurries through the third act to get the film to a nicely tied conclusion. Also unfortunately… this nicely tied conclusion ties to the inept opening. So the film opens and closes on its weakest points.

The middle section of the film has amnesiac Loder inserting himself into servicewoman June Duprez's life, with only her beau–an earnest but bland Michael St. Angel–suspecting.

Director Nosseck occasionally does wonders even on the low budget. The entire London bombing sequence is phenomenal and clearly the most expensive thing in the film. Except it's only a few minutes and the film really could have used some expense during Loder's vacation in Brighton. He goes from hotel to house to street–the street scenes aren't terrible, but Nosseck doesn't use establishing shots; there's no sense of scale.

Duprez is appealing, Miles Mander and Gilbert Emery are both good in small parts. Loder goes overboard, but it's the script. It doesn't know how to handle him.

Strangler's occasionally boring, but it's got its moments.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Max Nosseck; written by Nosseck, Arnold Phillips and Hugh Gray; director of photography, J. Roy Hunt; edited by Les Millbrook; music by Leigh Harline; produced by Herman Schlom; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring John Loder (Reginald Parker), June Duprez (April Manby Carson), Michael St. Angel (Lt. Bob Carson), Miles Mander (Chief Inspector W.R. Allison), Rose Hobart (Dorothy Kent), Gilbert Emery (Dr. Manby), Rex Evans (Leslie Shelton), Matthew Boulton (Inspector Graham), Olaf Hytten (Banks, the valet), Lydia Bilbrook (Mrs. Manby) and Ian Wolfe (Lord Mayor Herman Brandon R. Clive).


RELATED

Advertisements

Non-Stop New York (1937, Robert Stevenson)

I’d almost say Non-Stop New York has to be seen to be believed, but it might imply someone else should suffer through the film’s endless seventy-some minute running time. It’s a completely idiotic British attempt at an American proto-noir.

The film opens in New York, so you have a bunch of British actors not really even bothering hiding their accents. The opening introduces James Pirrie, Anna Lee and Francis L. Sullivan. All three are atrocious, but only Sullivan is at all interesting in his bad performance. He plays the portly villain a little like a flaming Adam West “Batman” villain. However, being interesting doesn’t make his performance any less awful.

Luckily, Pirrie dies quickly, then Lee’s off to England to be falsely accused in a related manner and she has to get back to the States to save an innocent man.

The idiocy of the script manifests most prominently in Pirrie’s murder case. Lee is a witness to the crime and the entire world (literally) is looking for her. Except, of course, John Loder’s Scotland Yard inspector, who dismisses her.

Loder’s bad too.

Particularly annoying is Desmond Tester (who appears in the second half, which is Grand Hotel with intrigue, set on a double decker airplane crossing the Atlantic).

The only passable performances are Athene Seyler and, to a lesser extent, Frank Cellier.

In defense of Stevenson’s weak direction, he seems to think he’s directing an absurdist comedy.

Unfortunately, the joke’s on the audience (I couldn’t resist).

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Stevenson; screenplay by J.O.C. Orton, Roland Pertwee, Curt Siodmak and E.V.H. Emmett, based on a novel by Ken Attiwill; director of photography, Mutz Greenbaum; edited by Al Barnes; music by Hubert Bath, Bretton Byrd and Louis Levy; released by Gaumont British Distributors.

Starring John Loder (Inspector Jim Grant), Anna Lee (Jennie Carr), Francis L. Sullivan (Hugo Brant), Frank Cellier (Sam Pryor), Desmond Tester (Arnold James), Athene Seyler (Aunt Veronica), William Dewhurst (Mortimer), Drusilla Wills (Mrs. Carr), Jerry Verno (Steward), James Pirrie (Billy Cooper), Ellen Pollock (Miss Harvey), Arthur Goullet (Abel), Peter Bull (Spurgeon), Tony Quinn (Harrigan) and H.G. Stoker (Captain).


RELATED

The Mysterious Doctor (1943, Benjamin Stoloff)

Apparently, the last time I saw The Mysterious Doctor (in 2001), I didn’t think much of it, rating it at one and a half. It’s a little low, since the film transcends propaganda, which many 1940s propaganda films did, but The Mysterious Doctor does it in interesting ways. Its mood isn’t the usual for a propaganda film. Instead of an espionage thriller or a war film, it’s a ghost story. The first time I saw the film, I compared it–as many do–to a Universal monster movie of the same era. It’s actually not. If it emulates any form, it’s a Val Lewton film. While the setting–a small English village–and the frequent fog might suggest the Universal films, The Mysterious Doctor spends a lot of time on bit characters, something the Universal films had long since stopped doing by 1942. There’s also something else… humor. The Mysterious Doctor has some gags and funny lines; there’s a definite emphasis on amusing the audience.

The film’s pace has a lot to do with its success. It runs under an hour and probably has a present action of three or four days yet, there are subplots and, until the awkwardly staged finale, some rather good performances. Warner used to use their “B” pictures to groom actors for the “A” films and, in Mysterious Doctor, it’s pretty obvious who they were grooming–Eleanor Parker. Though she doesn’t show up until ten or twelve minutes into the film (with a fifty-seven minute picture, that delay is considerable), once she does, she’s the film’s protagonist, with a rather forceful performance. She’s got some good scenes and she gives one particularly great speech, chastising the terrified men of the village. John Loder’s perfectly sturdy–until the end, when most things are falling apart anyway–and their two performances make up for the weaker ones… particularly Bruce Lester, who isn’t terrible, but he’s flimsy.

Technically speaking, Stoloff’s is decent, more impressive when he’s not doing the thriller aspects of the film. I can’t remember if the script’s predictable–I remembered one of the major twists a few minutes into the film and it seems pretty obvious, so it probably is an unsurprising experience, which is fine. It’s a nice package.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Benjamin Stoloff; written by Richard Weil; director of photography, Henry Sharp; edited by Clarence Koster; released by Warner Bros.

Starring John Loder (Sir Henry Leland), Eleanor Parker (Letty Carstairs), Bruce Lester (Lt. Christopher ‘Kit’ Hilton), Lester Matthew (Dr. Frederick Holmes), Forrester Harvey (Hugh Penhryn) and Matt Willis (Bart Redmond).


RELATED


THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | ELEANOR PARKER, PART 1: DREAM FACTORY.