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The only John Creasey books I've ever read are those relating to The Baron of which he wrote loads under the pseudonym of Anthony Morton – but he also wrote 59 Toff tales of which sadly I've read none. The Baron was very similar to Leslie Charteris's creation The Saint - so was The Toff except he wasn't such a shady character. Instead of leaving a calling card with a drawing of a halo on it, his depicted a caricature of a toff in a topper. Only two Toff stories were ever filmed both of which were on the BFI's 75 Most Wanted Missing Films list; the sequel Hammer The Toff was filmed at the same time as this and is still missing. This was a lively adaptation of a story published in 1941.
A gentleman is being closely watched from the mantelpiece in a guzzling smoky East End pub by some less than gentlemen, he leaves, is tailed, is murdered and his corpse carted off to an apartment. So far, so good – then a pretty young secretary comes to the Toff to help her find where her missing boss has disappeared to and the story starts to get complicated with comedy, romance, missing persons, fraud, embezzlement and more murder. It's reasonably enthralling as a story and within a strict Nettlefold Studios budget competently handled. But a film with a lot of Wally Patch in is always a joy anyway. It brings back a less complicated world we thought was impossibly complicated and which was doomed to die either from the h bomb or cynicism. I couldn't fault the affable John Bentley playing the Toff – but with his butler played by Roddy Hughes they reminded me more of The Lone Wolf. The ever-bullish Peter Bull played one of the baddies, a slimmer Peter Gawthorne is here in one of his last films as another while the incredibly skinny Tony Britton makes one of his first appearances. Hollow voiced Valentine Dyall as a detective played The Man In Blue. The little romances don't even get to the kissing stage which is always a big help in action films.
As far as I know I've never seen this before – it's dated, corny, low budget but adequate and full of old friends; I really enjoyed it and will hopefully see it again with the sequel!
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