Complex Early Noir Becomes a Less Interesting Thriller
It's an ambitious film that doesn't quite come off. Based on an Edgar Wallace novel, Peter Murray-Hill wants a job in "Special Services" and gets an assignment from the top-billed Gibb McLaughlin: there are some very good counterfeit bank notes in circulation, so Mr. Murray-Hill winds up sent to prison, where it is hoped he will connect with people in the counterfeiting ring. Soon enough he finds a sinister plot which implicates the father of Sally Gray. As he attempts to protect Miss Gray, the situation grows murkier.
Unfortunately, the story is telegraphically told, as the plot grows more and more complicated. It's also apparent that there was an effort to film this movie as it might have been directed by Tod Browning. While Browning might have gloried in the bizarre aspects of the characters, these tidbits are passed over so that the story can be told in less than 80 minutes. What might have been an early and bizarre film noir turns into a more conventional thriller. Also, the roles cry out for slightly different actors. I would have liked to have seen Ernest Thesiger in the title role; Leslie Perrins is, I feel, the best-served of the actors as the vengeance-seeking Jeffrey Legge, but his role, as those of the other actors, is reduced by the haste of the script.
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