A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.
While holidaying in Switzerland, Lawrence and his wife Jill are asked by a dying friend, Louis Bernard, to get information hidden in his room to the British Consulate. They get the information, but when they deny having it, their daughter Betty is kidnapped. It turns out that Louis was a Foreign Office spy and the information has to do with the assassination of a foreign dignitary. Having managed to trace his daughter's kidnappers back to London, Lawrence learns that the assassination will take place during a concert at the Albert Hall. It is left to Jill, however, to stop the assassination. Written by
I must confess that I rather like this earlier version more than the definitely more polished, bigger budgeted 1956 version. Don't get me wrong, that film is a fine film too, but the lower budget, the quick pace, and the presence of Peter Lorre make this one a gem. Alfred Hitchcock, the undeniable maser of suspense, shows his early skills as a director able to create suspense and engineer circumstances that affect individuals who would normally NOT be affected by them - a Hitchcock trademark. Here we have Leslie Banks and Edna Best playing the parents of a young teen girl who has been kidnapped because her parents were the last ones spoken to by a man(a friend) at a party in a European country. Intrigue abounds, the man tells Best who then tells Banks of a note in a brush handle that alerts them to some international incident that will occur in England. Well, the kidnappers alert them of what they have done and shut them up. But through parental devotion, once in England, the father begins to hunt for his daughter. This film has all those Hitchcock trademarks that we know Hitchcock for. We have the normal person(s) put into extremely difficult and complicated situations. We have expressive camera angles. We have humour amidst taut, tense action. We have good, all-around acting. Banks, just a year or so removed from his awesome portrayal of General Zaroff in The Most Dangerous Game, gives an incredibly low-key, convincing performance as a father trying to find his daughter no matter what. He is able to inject light touches of humour here and there to make his performance all the more real. Best is adequate although a bit wooden. Hugh Wakefield as the uncle is a real hoot. Cicely Oates as a nurse is also very convincing. Peter Lorre; however, solidifies his English/American career as a heavy. Coming from a Hungarian background and not able to speak English yet, Lorre learns his part phonetically - which is all the more impressive when you see his performance as a killer with little scruples yet a generous sense of humour. Lorre conveys menace in his ever-alert eyes and his almost sugary voice. Hitchcock knows just how to use him and the climatic scene really is pulled off rather well. This movie is not very long and it is a tad creaky. It has little budget as well, but it conveys lots of action and suspense and has some very good performances. The air of conspiracy, another director's trademark touch, pervades the film almost from beginning to end.
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