The Talking Pictures TV channel has given me the chance to watch a fascinating mix of older films, including some old crime movies that until recently were highly obscure. Naturally, the quality varies. Some of the films are "quota quickies", short films produced to make sure that a statutory requirement supposed to foster the British film industry was met. As with so many protectionist measures, it wasn't really a great idea, and it didn't last too long. Some "quota quickies" were poor, others surprisingly good.
Body Vanished, is a very short film from 1939, whose title gives you a clear idea of the storyline. It's a light comedy thriller, with Anthony Hulme cast as a police inspector, whose holiday with a journalist chum is rudely interrupted by a report of a murder. The crime scene is a country house, but the corpse cannot be found. Not at all a bad movie.
Hulme also stars - in more than one role - in a shortish film set in Britain in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Mysterious Mr Nicholson.. A solicitor sends a young female employee out with a will - a rich client has decided to disinherit his wastrel nephew. Alas, by the time she arrives, the client has been murdered. I'm afraid this is a pretty feeble film - at one point, the scriptwriter seemed to give up the unequal struggle, so we're treated to a long scene in a music hall, with a performing dog act that has no relevance to the story. The big twist came as no surprise at all.
Much better is a later film, Girl in the Picture, from 1957, directed by the very competent Don Chaffey. Donald Houston stars as a journalist investigating a cold case - the murder of a policeman. A photograph which shows a girl waving to the driver of a car believed to be that used by the killer, on the very day of the murder, leads him to pursue an ill-assorted pair of villains. There's not a lot of mystery in this one, but the pace is good, and Houston makes the most of his part.