by Allan Fish
(UK 1938 84m) not on DVD
Doing the nine o’clock walk
p Jerome Jackson d Arthur Woods w Derek Twist, Paul Gangelin novel James Curtis ph Basil Emmott ed Leslie Norman m Bretton Byrd art Peter Proud, Michael Relph
Emlyn Williams (Shorty Matthews), Anna Konstam (Molly O’Neill), Allan Jeayes (Wally Mason), Ernest Thesiger (Walter Hoover), Ronald Shiner (Charlie), Yolande Terrell (Marge), Julie Barrie, Jenny Hartley, William Hartnell, Will Hay Jnr, Iris Vandeleur,
Occasionally you come across something to warm the cockles of your heart. I’d long known of Arthur Woods’ ‘B’ crime pic, indeed I remember reading about it in the Halliwell Guide, where he called it, with typically succinct idiosyncrasy, an “excellent little-seen suspenser.” It was years later when I finally got to see it, and in a wretched print, too. It’s never shown on TV, and as for video or DVD you’re having a laugh. Yet here’s a film that wouldn’t be disgraced in comparison with the best of Hitchcock in the thirties. It may not be The 39 Steps or The Lady Vanishes, but it’s at least as good as anything else Hitch made in that decade.
Shorty Matthews is a penny and shilling crook who’s been inside for 18 months for some petty crime or other, and who is released on the day a man is hanged for murder. He decides to go and look up some friends in his old haunts, and then makes his way to see his old flame, Alice, now living the high life as a dance hall hostess. When he gets to her lodgings, he’s horrified to find her dead, strangled with a silk stocking, and, fearing that he’d be the principal suspect, he makes a run for it. Sadly for him, he’s seen leaving the scene of the crime and the police have a description posted in all the evening papers. He decides to catch a lift with some lorry driver up north, and runs into a friend of Alice’s who he convinces of his innocence, and who conspires with him to try and do what they can to find the real murderer. (more…)