Sunday, September 17, 2023

Kill Me Tomorrow (1957)

In the early to mid 1950s Terence Fisher directed a huge number of cheap B-movies, mostly crime movies and many of them for a company called Hammer Films. Kill Me Tomorrow (which was not a Hammer production) was to be the last such movie Fisher directed. In the very same month that this movie was released Fisher would hit the big time with The Curse of Frankenstein.

Fisher in fact had quite a flair for making these cheap crime features.

Pat O’Brien plays Bart Crosbie, a hardbitten crime reporter for the Clarion newspaper. Crosbie had been an ace reporter but a year earlier his wife had died. She was killed in a car accident and Bart Crosbie was driving. His response to the tragedy was to crawl inside a bottle and wallow in self-pity.

He’s become irresponsible and unreliable and he’s constantly on the verge of being sacked by his editor, Brook (Ronald Adam). Most people have written Crosbie off, but his old friend Steve Ryan (Robert Brown) and Brook’s niece Jill (Lois Maxwell) still retain some belief in him.

And now his son, the only thing he has left in the world, is desperately ill and may die. Crosbie needs a thousand pounds for an operation to save the boy and of course he doesn’t have the money. Then fate steps in. There is a murder. The murder is linked to a big story the Clarion is about to break, a story on a smuggling racket. That murder might provide a way for Crosbie to get that money although it’s a desperate chance. It could mean taking the rap for a murder he didn’t commit.

The police now have a prime suspect and a confession.

Steve Ryan has a hunch that the whole murder case doesn’t add up but that’s all it is, a hunch. Jill Brook has her doubts as well. The police are perplexed.

Crosbie gets into an awkward situation with the man behind that murder and with the police. His problem with the police is convincing them that he’s a murderer when he isn’t.

Jill Brook tries to help. Jill is a sensible girl but because Crosbie hasn’t told her everything she’s likely to make things more difficult and more confused.

50s pop sensation Tommy Steele pops up briefly to sing a rock’n’roll song, this being presumably an attempt to attract the youth market. He just happens to be the featured act at a coffee bar run by the chief bad guy.

The plot is rather predictable but the movie is well-paced.

Pat O’Brien is fine although he was pushing sixty at the time and is just a little lacking in energy, and he gets some action scenes which stretch credibility a mite.

Lois Maxwell makes a likeable feisty girl reporter.

You might think 58-year-old Pat O’Brien and 29-year-old Lois Maxwell make an unlikely romantic pairing but it works better than you might expect. Their mutual attraction comes across as quite believable.

This movie is included in the VCI four-movie DVD set called British Cinema: Drama volume 3 although the transfer bears the Renown Pictures logo.

Kill Me Tomorrow suffers from a predictable script but it’s well-made and Fisher was always a very competent director even when (as here) he was obviously working on a very very low budget. It’s not a great movie but it’s moderately entertaining and worth a look if you love British B-movies.

If you want to see some really great Terence Fisher crime B-movies check out Stolen Face and Man Bait (both Hammer movies).

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