There is a relatively recent film called Serena, but the Serena I'm discussing today dates back to 1962, and stars Honor Blackman, shortly before she rose to fame in The Avengers and Goldfinger. It would be easy to say that she is the most memorable feature of the movie, but that wouldn't be quite fair to the story, which is a nifty mystery, and the work of Edward and Valerie Abraham, presumably a husband and wife duo who were apparently responsible for several crime scripts in the 60s. Reginald Hearne, an actor who plays a minor part in the film, also contributed to the screenplay.
At the start of the film we see Howard Rogers, an artist, played by Emrys Jones, embracing his glamorous model. She leaves his studio just as the police arrive. Two rather dour cops, played by Patrick Holt and Bruse Beeby, start asking pointed questions about what Rogers has been up to. He has been out shooting with his model friend Serena, he explains. Things get tricky for him when the police tell him that his wife appears to have been shot. Will his alibi hold up?
The plot complications come thick and fast thereafter, especially when Blackman comes into the story. This is an ingenious puzzle, very much in the spirit of the Golden Age, despite a few early Sixties trimmings. There are, I think, obvious flaws in the murderous scheme if one thinks about the case coolly, but the pace of Peter Maxwell's direction means that one doesn't have too much time to spot them.
Blackman apart, the acting is not spellbinding, but I enjoyed seeing John Horsley, who had the wonderful role of Doc Morrisey in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, playing a solicitor. Johnny Gregory's jazzy theme tune is also very appealing. Blackman apart, though, the real strength of Serena lies in its twisty plot. And right at the end, a very neat clue is revealed.