Thursday, July 23, 2015


Jim Ackland, a chemical research worker, is on a bus with a friend's young daughter in his lap when the bus crashes; he sustains a major brain injury but the girl dies, and though there was nothing he could have done, he feels guilty and tries to kill himself. Eventually he is released to rebuild his life, gets his old job back, and resides at a quaint boarding house where he is looked upon with both sympathy (by Molly, a young and attractive but penniless model who borrows money from Mr. Peachy, a vaguely unpleasant fellow boarder) and contempt (a nasty gossip named Mrs. Vinton). He even begins dating Jenny, the sister of a co-worker. Trying to get away from Peachy, Molly asks Jim for money and he gives her some. That night, while Jim happens to be taking a leisurely walk through the nearby commons, Molly is found murdered, with Jim's check crumpled up nearby. Suspicion, fanned by the spiteful tongue of Mrs. Vinton, falls on Jim, but what about Mr. Peachy? Not to mention the married man that Molly was seeing on the sly. The police keep a sharp eye on Jim, and soon, despite encouragement from Jenny, Jim begins to wonder if he did indeed kill Molly and blanked it out of his mind.

This is a decent noir-style thriller with a good performance by John Mills (what other kind did he give?) as the lead making it worth watching. The script, based on a novel by Eric Ambler, is a little dicey, with a slackening of tension now and then. The various boarders are interesting—in addition to Kay Walsh as Molly, Edward Chapman as Peachy, and Joyce Carey as the gossip, there's also George Benson as a guy who remains friendly to Jim throughout, and Catherine Lacey as the landlady. Joan Greenwood has the relatively thankless role of the girl friend, and Mills' real daughter Juliet has the small role of the child on the bus. The confrontation scene between Mills and the killer, which comes about 2/3 of the way through, is very good, but there is a distinct falloff from there to the predictable ending. OK, but not a must-see. [Netflix streaming]

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