You Can’t Escape is a 1956 British suspense thriller released by Associated British-Pathé that takes what could have been a routine story idea and gives it a couple of interesting and original twists. The result is quite entertaining. I won’t spoil the movie by revealing these twists or giving any clues as to how it all plays out.
Peter Darwin (Robert Urquhart) is a successful novelist who saves the life of heiress Kay March (Noelle Middleton) when her plane cracks up on landing. Peter is a charming well-educated young man and it isn’t long before romance is blossoming. Everything is going just swimmingly until Peter’s old flame Claire Segar shows up and gives Peter the good news that he’s about to become a dad. Only Peter doesn’t see this as good news at all. His engagement to Kay March has already been announced and Peter has no desire to see his future happiness thwarted by an old discarded girlfriend. They quarrel and Claire is killed.
Claire’s death is an accident. Obviously the sensible thing to do would be to notify the police. It would be inconvenient and the inquest might be embarrassing but it was after all an accident. Of course if characters in suspense movies did the sensible thing in such situations we’d have very few suspense movies. Peter does what any self-respecting character in a movie would do. He buries the body and hopes it will never be discovered.
Surprisingly Kay gets herself involved in this mess very early on and although she knows it’s stupid she is persuaded to do something very foolish.
To add a further complication there’s an old friend of Claire’s, a Dr Anstruther (Guy Rolfe), who seems likely to cause some problems. There’s also Rodney Nixon (Peter Reynolds), a rather disreputable freelance journalist with a nose for scandal. Then there’s the local archaeological society, who decide to do a dig in a spot that could prove slightly awkward for Peter. Not to mention poachers and village policemen who seem to keep turning up in distressingly inconvenient places.
There’s also a very slight resemblance to Hitchcock’s Suspicion - we have a heroine who isn’t quite sure how far she should believe the hero. Peter Darwin is charming and likeable and seems like the sort of young man who would make an ideal husband - but is he really all he seems to be? The relationship between Peter and Kay doesn’t quite follow the pattern we might expect either.
Director Wilfred Eades had a very short career in film (in fact just two directing credits) followed by a rather short career in television. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the job he does here. Robert Hall and Doreen Montgomery provide a clever well-constructed screenplay.
The correct aspect aspect ratio of this film is open to debate. It was shot in 1.33:1 but distributed in two versions - one in that aspect ratio and another matted to 1.66:1 for cinemas equipped for widescreen exhibition. In other words both aspect ratios can be considered to be perfectly correct representations of the original theatrical release. Network have solved this problem for their DVD release by offering both versions. Since the widescreen version involves a loss of some picture information I elected to watch the 1.33:1 version but really it’s a matter of personal taste. What matters is that the transfers are extremely good.
You Can’t Escape is an absorbing and well-crafted suspense thriller that provides fine entertainment. Highly recommended.