Saturday, September 16, 2017

Paul Temple's Triumph (1950)

Paul Temple's Triumph was released in 1950 and was the third of the Paul Temple films distributed by Butcher’s Film Service between 1946 and 1952. It was based on Francis Durbridge’s radio serial News of Paul Temple.

This one is a spy thriller. A British atomic scientist, Professor Hardwick, has disappeared. The authorities seem rather unconcerned, a circumstance that puzzles Paul Temple somewhat. Even his old friend, Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Sir Graham Forbes (Jack Lively), doesn’t seem to be taking the matter too seriously. The scientist’s daughter Celia is very worried though and Temple decides it might be worth looking into this affair.

Temple finds himself up against the mysterious and sinister Z Organisation, an unscrupulous  international freelance spy ring.

He does have a few clues. There’s a torn fragment of a map and there’s a letter. He has no idea what is in this letter but everyone seems to want to get hold of it so clearly it’s important. Important enough to kill for, as it turns out.

There are quite a few suspicious foreigners lurking about and there’s at least one glamorous and dangerous female spy.

There are thrills aplenty, with booby traps and secret passageways and some impressively imaginative techniques for murder. And there’s no shortage of murder - this one has quite a high body count.

As usual Temple gets some useful assistance from his resourceful wife Steve who doesn’t mind putting herself in danger (in fact she’s sometimes a bit too keen to do so).

John Bentley played Paul Temple in three of the four movie adaptations and he brings charm and energy to the part. Dinah Sheridan played Steve in two of the films and she makes a very decent heroine.

There’s an abundance of villains and other assorted shady customers and the villains are reasonably menacing.

Director Maclean Rogers keeps things moving at a cracking pace and gives a genuine sense of danger to the proceedings. The high body count helps since we quickly realise that even likeable characters could be killed off without hesitation.

The spy plot works effectively. The top-secret project that the missing professor was working on is pretty much a standard spy movie McGuffin but that’s as it should be. We don’t need to know how the professor’s invention works, we just need to know that bad people will kill to get their hands on it and the screenplay therefore doesn’t waste time over-explaining things.

Fortunately there’s also no time squandered on unnecessary comic relief.

Paul Temple is a very happily married man so there’s no scope for him to become entangled in romantic intrigues. The affectionate relationship with his wife does however provide at least a touch of emotional involvement (and of course we know that Steve will get herself into at least one tight spot and have to be rescued).

The timing of this movie was interesting. The war was over so there was no point in having evil Nazis. On the other hand the Cold War was only just beginning so the Soviets were not quite yet ready to step into their shoes as the standard spy movie villains. The decision to make the bad guys freelance spies was actually quite sound and makes the movie less dated that it would otherwise have been.

The transfer for this film provided in the Renown Pictures Paul Temple boxed set is acceptable but it has a few minor problems. The set includes all four Paul Temple movies and represents excellent value for money.

Paul Temple's Triumph is a solid example of the British spy movie of its era. Lively and entertaining, and highly recommended.

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