Monday, June 4, 2012
The Clouded Yellow (1950)
David Somers (Trevor Howard) used to be a secret agent for British Intelligence, until he made one mistake and they decided to pension him off. Now he has found a job cataloguing a butterfly collection, of all things. Not that he has any interest in butterflies, but it sounds like a nice relaxing quiet job in the countryside and he’s rather looking forward to it. After all, you can’t get into too much trouble cataloguing butterflies. Or so he assumes.
There’s also the unsettling presence of the obviously villainous gamekeeper Hick, a man Sophie clearly dislikes and is afraid of. She is also afraid of her aunt, Jess (Sonia Dresdel).
There are several things that make this more than just a retread of The 39 Steps. One is the acting – Trevor Howard is superb, and Jean Simmons sparkles as the young woman accused of murder. The chemistry between these two is wonderful. Kenneth More gives an exceptionally likeable performance (as he always did).
Director Ralph Thomas went on to have a long and varied career, encompassing everything from Dickens to light comedies to some of the best spy spoofs of the 60s. He was no auteur but he was always very reliable and in this film proves adept at suspense.
The Clouded Yellow is an extremely well-made and very lively thriller offering suspense, romance, and some humour (mostly provided by Kenneth More). Very highly recommended.