Friday, April 5, 2019

Man Detained (1961)

Man Detained is another of those British Merton Park Studios Edgar Wallace B-pictures of which I’m so very fond. This one was made in 1961.

It opens with a rather curious robbery. A safe-cracker cleans out the safe in the offices of the Maple Photographic Studio. When Mr Maple’s secretary arrives at work the following morning she calls the police immediately. After all there was a very large amount of cash in the safe. The curious thing is that Mr Maple vehemently denies that there was any money in the safe. He also insists that his secretary should not make any mention of the existence of  the money to the police.

And after the robbery Mr Maple starts behaving even more nervously than usual. Much more nervously.

The safe-cracker is slightly puzzled as well. He’s just lifted ten thousand quid from a safe and there hasn’t been a word about it in the newspapers.

When murder follows soon afterwards the police are puzzled but it’s obvious that the murder is connected with that mysterious money.

In fact the young safe-cracker who thought he’d had an extraordinary stroke of good fortune with his unexpected haul has stumbled into a very large-scale and very serious criminal undertaking.

The police can see the outline of what could be a very big and important case but they have no evidence. They may have to resort to unconventional methods to get the evidence, and may have to call on unconventional allies.

Bernard Archard plays Inspector Verity and he’s one of those character actors who could always be relied up for these sorts of rôles. Inspector Verity is efficient and honest. Clifford Earl plays Detective Sergeant Wentworth, relatively inexperienced but keen and competent.

Greek-born Paul Stassino specialised in smooth deadly ethnic heavies combining charm with menace and that’s the formula he gives us here.

In this movie we have two sympathetic police officers who seem to know what they’re doing. We have a clever and ruthless villain but he is perhaps not quite as clever as he thinks he is. Arrogance and over-confidence are often the weaknesses of criminal masterminds.

Over-confidence can afflict policemen as well. Their plan to trap the villain might well work but it is rather risky. In the end it all comes down to luck.

There are two women who play important parts. There’s Maple’s wife Stella (Ann Sears), treacherous and possibly with the makings of a femme fatale. And there’s Maple’s secretary Kay Simpson (Elvi Hale), smart and loyal but possibly in over her head.

Robert Tronson directed a couple of these Edgar Wallace crime thrillers and then went on to have a very successful career as a television director. It’s hard to fault the job he does here, given that this is a cheap B-movie.

The action finale is quite satisfactory (and enjoyably chaotic) although it has to be said that the standard of marksmanship among British criminals is absolutely deplorable.

This movie is included in Network’s Edgar Wallace Mysteries Volume 2 boxed set. It receives an excellent anamorphic transfer.

Man Detained might not reach any great cinematic heights but it’s well-constructed and very well-acted and it provides just under an hours’ worth of reasonably enjoyable viewing. The quality of these Merton Park Edgar Wallace movies is variable but even the lesser examples such as this are worth a look. Recommended.

1 comment:

  1. "although it has to be said that the standard of marksmanship among British criminals is absolutely deplorable"

    Hahahahaha! No kidding!

    Another one I liked. It's cliched as hell, and a bit too obviously "Johnny Foreigner = Bad Guy", but but everyone does their best, and it doesn't try to be more than it is. Good cast, too.

    I would also recommend!