Thursday, October 21, 2021
The Malpas Mystery (1960)
Audrey Bedford (Maureen Swanson) has just been released from Holloway after serving nine months for her part in a jewel robbery. She was framed. Even the cop who arrested her, Inspector Shannon (Ronald Howard), thought she was innocent but the jury unfortunately disagreed.
There’s already a slightly sinister atmosphere creeping in. Malpas is a very strange guy who is clearly up to no good. In fact we get the impression that he’s some kind of criminal mastermind. His house is very spooky, festooned with cobwebs but with doors that open automatically. Nobody ever gets to see his face.
And why is everybody so interested in Audrey?
Maureen Swanson makes a likeable heroine. She had a brief career in film before marrying into the aristocracy. Ronald Howard and Allan Cuthbertson were very reliable actors as was Geoffrey Keen and it’s no surprise that all give fine performances. Sandra Dorne was another starlet who never really made the big time although she was kept by with television work in the 50s and 60s. Her performance is quite solid.
The White Trap (1959) and the terrific gothic horror film Night of the Eagle (1962) so he really should have had a better career.
The script (by Paul Tabori and Gordon Wellesley) is more than serviceable enough to keep things interesting.
From the late 40s to the early 60s it seemed like the British just couldn’t make a bad mystery thriller. Some very better than others, some were absolutely superb but even the lesser examples were pretty good. This is one of the better examples. It has the classic Edgar Wallace feel with plenty of devious twists and everyone up to something mysterious or shady.
Network have as usual provided an excellent anamorphic black-and-white transfer, without any extras on the disc.
The Malpas Mystery should please Edgar Wallace fans and it should also please fans of British mystery/crime B-pictures. Highly recommended.