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Murderer loose in postwar London in the 40's
Steve-31830 October 2002
Erudite British effort where the strangler comes off as quite civilized. He's quite the gentleman, really, just has this problem with his hands.

Really enjoyed Stanley Holloway as the #2-cop on the case. Stanley doesn't break into song but he does provide some comedic relief--subtle stuff, no slapstick.

You can't help but be fascinated by the many views of London that are pictured (immediately after the war). The buses, street scenes, and various landmarks shown on film tell a story of their own. How times have changed--the record shop scene is a far cry from the rocking London that would follow 20 years later.

This is well-written (Emeric Pressburger had a hand in that) story with characters that are decidely human, albeit in the English stiff-upper-lip school.
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Just Call Whitehall 1212
Spikeopath25 January 2014
Wanted for Murder is directed by Lawrence Huntington and adapted to screenplay by Emeric Pressburger, Rodney Ackland, Barbara Everest and Maurice Cowan from the play by Terence De Marney and Percy Robinson. It stars Eric Portman, Dulcie Gray, Derek Farr, Roland Culver and Stanley Holloway. Music is by Mischa Spoliansky and cinematography by Mutz Greenbaum.

Nifty little thriller noir this, basically it finds Portman as the sinister Victor James Colebrook, a man with murderous instincts born out by bad seed lineage in his family tree. Can intrepid Chief Inspector Conway (Culver) nail his man before he kills yet again? Imperative since Victor has latched onto Anne Fielding (Gray), and although he is in love with her, he doesn't know how long he can contain his blood lust.

Thought to be influenced by a real life serial killer, Huntington's movie is very Hitchcockian in tone. Story unfolds by night in a London of dimly lighted foggy streets and dense shadowed parks, and by day it's the hustle and bustle of the city that provides a backdrop of false normalcy. As the tormented Victor goes about his way, leading his double life as a cunning member of society who dotes on his mother – and that of a strangler of women – the makers ensure the surroundings suit the persona.

A chapter of the story set at a carnival pulses with unease, a visit to a wax museum really gets to the heart of the evil, a murder sequence that is off camera strikes all the right terrifying notes, and a quite brilliant passage that sees witnesses come face to face with the killer in Conway's office is superbly performed by all involved. Then there is the finale that plays out at night (naturally) at the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. Wonderful!

Portman (A Canterbury Tale/Dear Murderer) was a British treasure, an actor whose career begs for reappraisal by classic film fans. Here he is right on the money as the complex sociopath who detests what he has become and even dangles clues for the police to follow. Yet he also slips easily into society with a measured calmness that is rather chilling. Portman quite simply is excellent. As are Culver and Holloway as the sort of coppers Britain could do with having more of these days!

With Pressburger as part of the writing team it's no surprise to find the script tight and the dialogue snappy, Huntington (The Upturned Glass) and Greenbaum (Night and the City) never miss the chance to accentuate the psychological tremors by way of smart visuals, and Spoliansky's music is devilishly spectral like. It probably could have been shorn of ten minutes and the Dulcie Gray/Derek Farr romance gets a little twee at times, but this is well worth checking out and deserves to be better known. 8/10
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Marvelous British Suspense Film
Handlinghandel29 December 2007
Don't be put off by the generic title. This is a film of subtlety and grace.

Eric Portman is perfect as the troubled protagonist. Dulcie Gray enchants as the vulnerable yet strong-willed heroine. And the supporting cast is uniformly excellent.

This is a variation on the Jack the Ripper theme. Someone is strangling young women, sending notes to Scotland Yard in advance. Ronald Culver is absolutely right as the chief inspector on the case.

The psychology may be painted with slightly broad strokes. But the acting elevate that: The pain felt by all concerned is palpable. We do not admire the killer but we have understanding of the person's behavior. The victims and would-be victims are touching. And the attempts by secondary characters to help are persuasive and upsetting to us.
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Stay away from London parks
AAdaSC24 July 2010
Eric Portman (Viktor) is the grandson of a notorious hangman. His grandfather's sadistic, psychotic reputation as a killer plays heavily on Portman's psyche. Actually, it does more than that - it influences his behaviour. However, he is unable to change who he is. A serial killer is at large murdering women and goading the police. Can Roland Culver (Inspector Conway) and his team prevent the killer from striking again and again....?

This film contains some dodgy accents, in particular, a very posh bus driver as played by Derek Farr (Jack) and a young Scottish woman, Jenny Laird (Jeannie), who comes from absolutely nowhere in Scotland. There are humorous moments eg, Stanley Holloway's portrayal of "Sgt Sullivan" and Gerard Kempinski as a waiter, alongside tense dramatic sections, eg, the murder of Jenny Laird (Jeannie) in the park. I found Barbara Everest as "Mrs Colebrooke" slightly weird b t it's a minor point in an otherwise convincing tale of a killer who is born to kill. We are left in no doubt as to who the killer is from the beginning and this adds to the tension throughout the film. I thought that the killer's fate was rather convenient - an easy way to end the film - but it's still a good film.
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Very effective British thriller
stills-67 July 2004
It's all very nicely done. I had barely, if ever, heard of any of the leads in this movie before I saw it. I was expecting a sloppy film noir set in London, but it was a pleasant surprise when the dialogue and the players were as good as they are. The story is tight, mostly, and there is real tension and unexpected humor. Overall, it was very effective.

I was particularly impressed with Eric Portman as Colebrooke. There was not much of a tradition playing sociopaths at this point in the movies. Of the few that had been portrayed, Cagney in "White Heat", for example, is much more histrionic and obvious than Portman is here.

I might quibble with some plot points and some really heavy-handed staging, but really this is much like middle Hitchcock without all of the psychological mumbo-jumbo to push it along.
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A very watchable film noir.
Sleepin_Dragon29 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I love the fact that there is a wealth of unseen movies out there to discover, sometimes you unearth diamonds, sometimes you just find rubbish. Wanted for Murder is a worthy discovery, it begins very slowly, but opens up nicely, the real mystery being which planets some of the accents hail from, this era loved the terribly proper English accent, and the extreme working class alternative. I find the camera work ad filming very appealing, it somehow feels quite crisply put together,quite slick. Accents apart, it's very well acted, Eric Pittman is fantastic, brilliantly menacing, a huge on screen presence.. Roland Culver and Stanley Holloway are excellent, a great double act, with Holloway injecting a dash of humour. Some great cameos, Wilfred Hyde White and the lady purchasing a record, great fun. The audiences of the forties had a definite taste for mystery, and thank goodness for it. A gem, 8/10.
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Eric Portman Contributes Mightily to This Moody, Atmospheric Thriller
kidboots7 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
After years of wartime austerity, picture going resumed in Britain in a big way with the spectacular success of "The Wicked Lady", a Technicolour costume extravaganza. But strangely another genre to find favour was the psychological crime film and no actor could create quiet menace, the type that simmers under a surface of normality quite like Eric Portman. His smooth speech usually meant he was often able to fool everyone and get away with murder - until the last reel. In this film he plays Victor James Colebrook, a man who seems to hold everything under control but is still capable of violent outbursts. Only his mother seems worried about his moods - his father had been a notorious hangman whose mind snapped and ever afterwards was only happy when he was carrying out his grisly occupation. Victor has inherited the madness and as the film opens he is already stalking his latest victim. He is engaged to a sweet girl, Anne (Dulcie Grey) who works in a music store but the first scenes show her meeting someone else - a love struck bus driver, Jack (Derek Farr) and she has fallen for him as well.

The film explored many avenues, it was moodily atmospheric with director Laurence Huntingdon taking full advantage of Eric Portman's deep moods and mask like face. Has some very Hitchcockian moments, I wondered if Hitchcock had seen this movie when he planned "Strangers on a Train" and the eerie carnival and island sequences of that movie? In one scene Victor is in a mist enshrouded park with a naïve Irish girl but just after he kills her an American serviceman and his girl come across them. With the deepening fog he is able to shield his identity while offering the asked for matches. Then there was the orderly view of police procedure - Stanley Holloway in a rare straight role as the constable who makes the connection between Colebrook and his notorious father!!

With a climax resembling "The Blue Lamp" - the police pinpoint Colebrook and his next victim in Hyde Park and begin a no-nonsense public exodus of the grounds.

Dulcie Grey who had scored a critical success in her last film "They Were Sisters" was amazed to find herself dropped after the studio felt her portrayal was too realistic!! Soon after Eric Portman requested her to co-star with him in "Wanted for Murder" and, according to Miss Grey, he was a "darling"!!

Highly Recommended.
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B picture gets A treatment
manuel-pestalozzi7 February 2012
This is a truly memorable movie. Not for its story which is pretty pedestrian but for its treatment by the screen writers, the actresses and actors, its cinematography and its art direction. My first surprise came with the title credits. Emeric Pressburger participated in the screen writing. And this seems to be one of the rare cases in which the screen writing is better than the general plot. There are a great many interesting characters which are competently and nicely sketched. The actresses and actors grace the script with very good, heart felt and often funny performances down to the last bit part (and there are many of them). They portray ordinary people who just want to be decent - and ordinary. The movie is set in post war London and the number of sets and location shots is astounding considering the simplicity of the whole affair. The apartment of the villain is in a fine town house, and it looks like it was shot on location, so it must also be a feast for friends of architecture. Watching this movie is anything but a waste of time!

Again and again I become enraptured by British films which were made during the period of Austerity (The Archers, Ealing Studio, Carol Reed etc.). I always feel that lack of funds was more than compensated by the love all those who participated felt for their art.
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Interesting but flawed thriller
johnshephard-8368222 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I can't say I can rave about this film as much as some of the reviewers, though it does have some interesting features. There are certainly some Hitchcockian moments, as in the scene where the murderer and victim are stumbled upon by a passing couple, evoking Hitch's trademark moral ambiguity, and it uses atmosphere and mood effectively in places. Performances vary from the realistic to the melodramatic, as if, at times, two entirely different films have been stitched together. It is severely weakened by the moments of melodrama, some poor dialogue, an unconvincing romance (why did so many screenwriters of this era think it plausible for people to declare their love within five minutes of meeting? - - the couple in question here literally meet about three times throughout), and I found the 'comedy' policeman just plain irritating. It's a shame because the troubled serial killer/mummy's boy theme should have made for a better film - watch Psycho instead. Worth a look, but don't expect too much.
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Distinctly British
Leofwine_draca29 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
WANTED FOR MURDER is a distinctly British spin on the film noir genre, with an oldy worldy feel and some interesting characters, but it's never quite as engaging or as spooky as I hoped. Eric Portman plays the son of a hangman who ends up haunted by his father's profession and driven to the extreme. The horror aspects of the story are present but kept mostly off-screen, making this tame and dated for the most part; the best elements are those in a grisly wax museum with a delightful Wilfrid Hyde-White cameo. The film does well to cast strong character actors in support, including Kathleen Harrison and Stanley Holloway, but is otherwise a middling experience.
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Worth it for the last scene, and the 40s ambiance
lucyrfisher7 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
1946 - when women were still wearing that strange 40s aesthetic with huge, unflattering hair styles. See Colebrooke's secretary, who thinks he'll marry her one day when in fact he is planning to strangle her on Wimbledon Common. (Not a spoiler, we know he is the killer from the start.) I like Derek Farr, and the scene where he picks up Anne on a tube train that's broken down. Dulcie Gray must have been about 30, and I'm sorry, but she doesn't look as young as her character is meant to be (19 or so?). The scene at the fair is good, too, with the Punch and Judy man and the gramophone operator. It's nice to see Bonar Colleano as an American soldier and witness, and Kathleen Harrison is good as the Colebrookes' maid. Mrs Colebrooke, as another commenter said, gives us a glimpse of acting styles of the past (circa 1840). There are effective moments as Colebrooke's skinny, moustachio'd tail follows him along the river bank, and there is a splended scene as Inspector Conway overrules the jobsworth of jobsworths. Best moment, though, is when squads of coppers in old-fashioned helmets, and on horseback, descend on Hyde Park. Colebrooke attempts escape by boat and by water. High melodrama in the Serpentine is a challenge, but Eric Portman rises to it. It's all rather ludicrous, and not a patch on Canterbury Tale or Dear Murderer. Yes, there's much too much faffing about at Scotland Yard, and the intended humour just isn't funny, despite Stanley Holloway's efforts.

The sound on this transfer is so bad that some of the dialogue is lost.
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Not a noir--and not very good either.
BrentCarleton6 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The title pretty much says it all. Eric Portman is wanted for murder in this tedious, unsuspenseful melodrama--most of which is set in very un-noirish sunshine.

What makes this especially hard to endure are the endless scenes of the police inspectors trying to anticipate (and then catch up) with Portman, as they waddle around the station, answering the phone and drinking tea. These scenes which are risible, (and no favor to Scotland Yard) are so padded, that one feels the director felt he needed them to increase the running time. Did he also feel that making the police the perfect model of incompetence would aid the story?

The climax set on a lake with the police in hot pursuit is "Saturday Night Live" material.

And the story ain't much--Portland is the middle aged Mamma's boy, who keeps a clipping file of his previous slayings, (a plot device borrowed from the far superior, "They Drive By Night" (1938) starring Ernest Thesiger).

As for the acting, well who can top Barbara Everest as Portman's mother, who evidently believes she has been cast in a Victorian melodrama of the "East Lynne" school--so many hand claspings and heaven-ward glances does she employ.

Don't be mis-led into buying this sight unseen thinking it's one of those great, esoteric, unknown British noirs. It isn't! Moreover, apart from a carnival sequence the whole thing is staged very unimaginatively.
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Are all hangman grandchildren serial murders?
malcolmgsw12 November 2016
The most interesting aspect of this lacklustre thriller are the views that it gives us of post war austerity London.This is a thriller without a thrill.For some bizarre reason we know the killer from the beginning.The reason for his murderous impulses arise from the fact that his grandfather was the public hangman in Victorian Times.To add to the character he is also a hummus boy.The actors do their best with the material but some of them are miscast.In particular Dulcie Grey and Derick Farr.I cannot remember a bus conductor talking as if he was fresh from a Mayfair nightclub.I can only assume that this film has such a high,overrated mark,due to the prescience of Portman and writing of Pressburger.
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