Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Noose for a Lady - film/DVD review

Noose for a Lady is a 1953 whodunit film which seemed to have been well and truly forgotten until its recent release in DVD form. Having just watched it, I must say I'm glad it's been resurrected, because it presents a highly traditional whodunit in the space of just over 70 minutes and provides decent entertainment from start to finish. The director, Wolf Rilla, by the way, later became renowned for The Village of the Damned, based on John Wyndham's classic sci-fi novel The Midwich Cuckoos.

The set-up is very familiar. A woman has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to death. An appeal fails, and her fate seems to be sealed by the time a cousin (Dennis Price, that great post-war smoothie) returns from Uganda and decides she is innocent, and must be saved. So we have a clock-race element coupled with a hunt for a killer among the genteel family and social circle of the dead man.

Suspicion shifts pleasingly from one suspect to another. Is the killer the suave doctor (Ronald Howard) or the dodgy collector of knick-knacks (Charles Lloyd Pack, father of Roger Lloyd Pack, and grandfather of Emily Lloyd)? Or perhaps a retired soldier with a discreditable past, or the local busy-body, or the pretty girl Price's character fancies? Or...well, you get the picture.

The film is based on a novel by Gerald Verner, which in turn appears to have been based on a radio serial - this would explain why it is very dialogue-heavy. I've never read anything by Verner, but he was certainly prolific, with well over one hundred novels to his credit. He also adapted Agatha Christie's Towards Zero for the stage. It seems that Edgar Wallace was a major influence on him, but this story is more in the Christie vein. It's a competently made, unpretentious film, and like so many hitherto neglected books and films, it's now enjoying a new lease of life as it becomes, happily, cheaper and easier to make such work available to a new generation of fans at modest cost.


Kacper said...

I was just recently trying to track down a copy of this film - I'm glad to hear it's worth seeking out.

I looked up Gerald Verner and I'm quite intrigued by his work, although one source says that his prodigious output can be decreased by as much as half because of recycling (which we talked about happening with Pamela Barrington, incidentally, who wrote far fewer novels). Still, some of his novels sound really interesting and I might give them a shot.

Martin Edwards said...

Definitely worth a watch, Kacper. Let me know what you make of it.