Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Model for Murder (1959)

Model for Murder is a1959 British mystery thriller although it’s more thriller than mystery. In fact there’s no mystery here at all.

American sailor David Martens (Keith Andes) meets Sally Meadows (Hazel Court) in a London cemetery. David was visiting the grave of his brother who was killed in an accident two years earlier. David wants to find model Diana Leigh who had been engaged to marry his brother. As luck would have it Sally works for couturier Kingsley Beauchamp (Michael Gough) so she’s acquainted with Diana Leigh.

David finds himself caught up in a daring jewel robbery and a murder. Fabulously valuable diamonds have been stolen from a safe in Beauchamp’s office. The borrowed jewels were being used for a fashion shoot. David appears to be the obvious suspect although Inspector Duncan (Howard Marion-Crawford) is not such a fool as to jump blindly to obvious conclusions.

David has to find a way to clear himself and he’s going to need Sally’s help. He will also get help at a crucial moment from a siamese cat!

He’s up against people who are ruthless and desperate even if they are somewhat clumsy. The plot is your basic “wrong man accused of a crime has to find the real culprit before the police find him” story with no startling twists.

Terry Bishop and Robert Dunbar wrote the script and while it’s serviceable it’s not exactly breathtakingly original. Bishop also directed the film. His career was mostly spent in television and there’s nothing in this film to suggest that he was anything more than competent.

The fashion background adds a touch of glamour to what is otherwise a fairly routine B-movie.

Fortunately there’s no comic relief in this movie and it’s all played pretty straight. The 73-minute running time means it’s in no real danger of wearing out its welcome.

It’s obviously a low-budget production but it manages not to look shoddy or excessively cheap.

This movie’s biggest asset is its cast. Keith Andes is an acceptable if unexciting male lead with a very slightly hard-boiled flavour but Hazel Court is excellent. Michael Gough is in fine form as the smooth but reckless Kingsley Beauchamp. He doesn’t overact as much as he would in many later movies but he’s still mesmerising.

Howard Marion-Crawford is always a delight as a policeman and Alfred Burke plays a minor role as a professional safe-cracker named Podd who has been persuaded to work with a bunch of amateurs. Edwin Richfield as Beauchamp’s chauffeur Costard makes a fine heavy.

Network’s DVD release features a very pleasing anamorphic transfer. There are no extras apart from a photo gallery but it’s a reasonably inexpensive DVD so there’s no real cause for complaint.

Model for Murder is harmless and enjoyable enough and the top-flight cast is a definite bonus. Not in the top rank of 50s British thrillers, not even close, but worth a look although it might perhaps be one to rent rather than purchase.


  1. I recognized Hazel Court's name so I googled it. She was in Dear Murderer.

    1. Hazel Court did a lot of extremely interesting movies. Always an actress worth watching.