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The Last Page

Man Bait

UK 1952
produced by
Anthony Hinds for Hammer/Exclusive, Lippert Pictures
directed by Terence Fisher
starring George Brent, Marguerite Chapman, Diana Dors, Peter Reynolds, Raymond Huntley, Eleanor Summerfield, Meredith Edwards, Harry Fowler, Conrad Phillips, Nelly Arno, David Keir, Eleanor Bryan, Isabel Dean, Jack Faint, Harold Goodwin, Leslie Weston, Lawrence O’Madden, Ian Wilson, Eleanor Brown, Archie Duigan
screenplay by Frederick Knott, based on the play by James Hadley Chase, music by Frank Spencer, assistant director: Jimmy Sangster

Hammer noir

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Ruby (Diana Dors), a young clerk at a bookstore, catches a young man, Jeff (Peter Reynolds), as he’s just about to steal a rare book. Now she could have easily reported this to her boss, John Harman (George Brent), which could have furthered her own reputation within the store … but she finds Jeff weirdly attractive and instead tries to be smart and make him fall for her – and before long, she has a date.

What she doesn’t know of course is that Jeff is an ex-con who is just looking for an opportunity to make some easy extra cash, and the naïve young blonde seems just the right person to help him …

One evening at work, Ruby accidently tears her blouse, and before you know it, she and her boss, a married man, kiss. But Harman reacts a little bit shocked to this kiss, and out of bad conscience he gives her money to buy a new blouse, and more than enough money.

Ruby thinks she has acted smart, but Jeff sees only a missed opportunity and persuades her to blackmail her boss. And Ruby tries, too, but Harman will hear nothing of it because in his eyes, he has given her more than enough already, considering it wasn’t even him who tore the blouse. So Jeff has the great idea to have Ruby write a letter to Harman’s wife (Isabel Dean), who is disabled, to tell her what happened – well, what happened according to Jeff – but Harman’s wife gets so worked up by the letter that she, when trying to burn it, accidently kills herself.

Once again, Ruby tries to get some money out of Harman, and he, driven by grief, throws the money at her, much more than she asked for, just to get rid of her. A short time later, Jeff kills Ruby to relieve her of her money, then hides out at his girlfriend Vi’s (Eleanor Summerfield), while he has Ruby’s body delivered to Harman in a box, which he opens just before the police arrives to question him – and ultimately he has just enough time to make an escape … a rather foolish idea, since that makes him guilty of having murdered Ruby in the eyes of everybody – everybody but his assistant Stella (Marguerite Chapman) that is, who has long been in love with him and who now tries to help him solve the crime. But even she can’t help it that they walk into a trap and Harman is arrested eventually. Soon enough though, even the police realize that something doesn’t add up and soon enough too, they get their hands on Vi and make her tell them Jeff’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile though, Stella has already tracked down Jeff on her own – which was not necessarily the best idea since Jeff seems to show little hesitation in murdering her just like he murdered Ruby, and then burning her body.

But thank god he couldn’t strangle Stella quite as easily as he strangled Ruby, thank god the police arrives just in time to arrest him, and thank god they also brought Harman, who dashes into the burning apartment to save Stella from certain death just in time …

 

Terence Fisher’s first film for Hammer is a competently made, suspenseful and entertaining film noir, even if the film at the same time is not terribly original or totally free of kitsch. Still, it makes good entertainment for film noir fans, and Diana Dors as the naïve blonde trying to be a femme fatale gives quite an interesting performance.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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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
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD