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» A Locked Room Thriller Film Overview by David Good friend: COLONEL MARCH INVESTIGATES (1953).


COLONEL MARCH INVESTIGATES. Criterion Movies, UK, 1953. Starring Boris Karloff as Colonel March. Screenplay by Leo Davis, based mostly on three tales written by John Dickson Carr. Director: Cyril Enfield.

The grasp of the locked room thriller was, inarguably, John Dickson Carr, one of the well-liked crime writers of the Golden Age. His masterpiece, The Hole Man (1935), retains an virtually legendary standing amongst crime fiction followers, however he’s now sadly forgotten by the broader public. The books have lengthy been out of print within the UK, and I’m all the time hoping that some writer will carry them again.

Maybe they’re so obscure as a result of Carr’s most well-known sleuths, Dr Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale, by no means made it to the display screen. One in all his lesser characters managed it, nonetheless, within the early 1950s, with the tv sequence Colonel March of Scotland Yard.

Carr had used the character solely in his 1940 brief story assortment The Division of Queer Complaints, in which there’s a subdivision of Scotland Yard that specialises in crimes of a curious or apparently not possible nature. The sequence was financed by the People and starred worldwide movie star Boris Karloff – well-known for enjoying the Chinese language-American detective Mr Wong and, after all, much more so, Frankenstein’s Monster.

At this level in his lengthy profession, Karloff was a frequent visitor on American radio sequence and even had his personal present for youngsters during which he learn tales and informed riddles. In 1952, he returned to England and made three episodes for ITV which acted as pilots for an extended sequence. Ultimately, twenty six had been produced, all of which had been a brisk 25 minutes lengthy.

The primary three made had been stitched collectively for launch to cinemas in 1953. This was not unusual for a TV present on the time and the observe would proceed into the subsequent decade, notably with The Saint.

Colonel March Investigates is a taut 70 minute anthology of three slight, although entertaining, mysteries with the twinkly-eyed Karloff. He offers the character an eye-patch, which he didn’t have within the tales, nevertheless it provides one thing to the character, as we are able to think about he might have misplaced it within the First World Struggle. This, maybe, is somebody who has witnessed untold horrors and has come to phrases with the world by participating with its extra whimsical wonders.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a framing machine which helps tie the three tales collectively, during which March stands in his workplace and inspects a cabinet stocked with souvenirs of his instances earlier than main the viewers into the corresponding story.

The primary of those, aired as “Sizzling Cash,” revolves round a financial institution theft during which a clerk is incriminated. He follows the legal to an workplace, the place the cash is seemingly saved. Nevertheless, when the place is searched, the cash has apparently disappeared. Regardless of the clerk being framed within the silliest of the way, the decision is fairly first rate, however nothing too particular. Joan Sims seems right here in an early position, and March reveals a John Steed-like umbrella sword!

The second story was aired as “Loss of life within the Dressing Room,” which might be the weakest of the three. Set in a nightclub, it options an unique dance routine which acts as a clue, whereas the all the time dependable Richard Wattis performs the supervisor. The working time to those is so brief that there’s nearly no time to arrange various suspects, so the perpetrator tends to be the one that has been in it essentially the most.

Regardless of, because it’s all about how March will get his man, which he does right here in a tense confrontation. As regular, March’s sparring associate is the Scottish Inspector Ames (Ewan Roberts), although you surprise why he’s there as March appears to be a well-known genius.

The third story, intriguingly titled “The New Invisible Man,” contains a peeping tom who has apparently witnessed a pair of animated gloves committing homicide, and a scene of a criminal offense with no proof of a criminal offense. It’s the perfect one, I believe, although there are a few issues. We get the chance to see the gloves in motion ourselves, nevertheless it doesn’t look very similar to the way in which it’s proven to us within the reveal.

The trick is nice, nonetheless, and it actually had me baffled. The explanation behind all of it is fairly shaky, nonetheless, and entails stolen work and, ultimately, a kidnapped March. It’s all good enjoyable, although, which is what I’d name the movie as a complete. And an attention-grabbing peek, as ever, into bygone England. Eight episodes of the sequence itself can be found on DVD. It’s only a pity the entire sequence isn’t accessible.

Ranking: ***

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