Monday, October 05, 2015



We first see psychiatrist Clive Riordan (Robert Newton) in a low-key, distracted mood at his London men's club. When he returns home early, his wife Storm (Sally Grey) is gone, and when she returns, she's in the company of another man, the young American Bill Kronin (Phil Brown). They claim to have been at a concert, but Clive cleverly catches them in a lie, pulls a gun on Bill, and marches him out of the house. As far as Storm knows, that was the end of the story, but five days later, Bill is reported missing. Clive claims he doesn't know what happened, but we discover that Clive took Bill to an abandoned cellar near his office and chained him up so he has access to a cot and a bathroom but can't escape. Clive holds him for weeks; a bit of cat-and-mouse rapport develops, but Bill has no idea what Clive's plan is: each day, he smuggles in a small amount of acid and pours it in a tub—when the tub is full, he'll put Bill in it. Naturally, there are complications, the first being the Riordan's dog who follows Clive out to the hidden room one day, the second being a Scotland Yard inspector (Naunton Wayne) who starts snooping around.

Robert Newton (pictured) is the glue that holds this together and makes it worth watching. His character is given little no background aside from the fact that he's a psychiatrist which in itself would have been interesting to delve into; his relationship with his wife is also not fleshed out. Grey is weak as the wife, perhaps because she is given little to work with—she seems singularly uninterested in Bill's whereabouts even though she was having an affair with him. Brown is better but his character is also flat. Newton, who was known to ham it up (see BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE), is quiet but tightly wound, and keeps the movie fairly tense. I like Naunton Wayne and he gives a nicely sly but understated performance as the cop. The dog and a cat both play important roles in the film's climax. [Criterion streaming]

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