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Father Brown
The Detective

UK 1954
produced by
Paul Finder Moss for Facet Productions
directed by Robert Hamer
starring Alec Guiness, Peter Finch, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Bernard Lee, Sid James, Gérard Oury, Ernest Clark, Aubrey Woods, John Salew, Sam Kydd, John Horsley, Jack McNaughton, Hugh Dempster, Eugene Deckers, Betty Bascomb, Diana Van Proosdy, Dino Galvani, Launce Maraschal, Noel Howlett, Marne Maitland, Austin Trevor, Ernest Thesiger, Hugo Schuster, Guido Lorraine, Jim Gérald, Daniel Clérice, Everley Gregg, Fanny Carby
screenplay by Thelma Schnee, Maurice Rapf, Robert Hamer, based on stories by G.K. Chesterton, music by Georges Auric

Father Brown

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Father Brown (Alec Guiness) is to deliver the priceless Cross of St Augustin to the Vatican, knowing that masterthief Flambeau (Peter Finch), a master of disguise, is after the cross and will try to steal it. So father Brown takes any precaution in the book and uses the power of deduction to guard the cross from Flambeau, as whoever he will appear, only to eventually have to find out the thief is actually a fellow priest travelling with him. And despite of all of his efforts, Flambeau gets the cross.

Father Brown is disappointed, not so much for losing the cross but for not having been able to talk Flambeau out of stealing it. So he sets up a trap for Flambeau when he persuades Lady Warren (Joan Greenwood) to put up her priceless chess game for auction. Flambeau of course shows up in disguise to steal it, and again Father Brown can do nothing to prevent it, but when he and Lady Warren return to Lady Warren's home, they find Flambeau there - who has come to return the chessgame. Brown is so impressed by his sudden act of righteousness that he helps Flambeau escape the police that's already hot on Flambeau's trail. Father Brown promises Flambeau they'll meet again and then he will save Flambeau's soul, but Flambeau insists that will never happen.

For having helped Flambeau to escape, Father Brown soon becomes a wanted man in Great Britain, but he has to go to France anyways to track down Flambeau, while at the same time being on the run from Scotland Yard detective Valentine (Bernard Lee) and French inspecteur Dubois (Gérard Oury), but manages to evade them time and again until his quest comes to an end at a decaying castle, once the home of a noble family, now struck by obvious poverty. There, Brown finds a secret room, in which someone, Flambeau of course, keeps a vast collection of priceless masterpieces of art from all centuries, just for his private amusement. Brown realizes that Flambeau is not really the mastercriminal everybody thinks him to be, just someone who has never outgrown his childhood, and who now collects all these pieces of art as surrogate for toys. He tries to talk sense into Flambeau but can't, so disappointed, he wants to leave empty-handed, even refusing to take back the cross Flambeau is offering ... when the police arrives. Flambeau manages to make a hasty escape, but all of his loot stays behind, and Father Brown is credited with retrieving it. And a few weeks later, during services, he even spots Flambeau in the crowd of listeners ...


In probably the most popular big screen adaptation of Father Brown, Alec Guiness gives a likeable interpretation of the character, and so does Peter Finch as his adversary - but as a whole, the two of them as well as the whole film are a bit too harmless. In part that's due to the rather original approach that puts Father Brown's faith over his crimesolving abilities and makes it an imperative for him to convert a sinner rahter than catch a criminal ... but unfortunately, as unorthodox, even interesting this approach might be, it's just not very cinematic.

That's not to say Father Brown is a bad film, it's brilliantly acted, beautifully directed and moves along very swiftly for most of the time ... it just seems to miss a certain spark that would make it really good.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
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out now on DVD