Wednesday 11 July 2018

Double Confession - 1950 film review

Double Confession is a British post-war film which is sometimes described as a film noir, despite the fact that the action mostly takes place on a bright summer day at the seaside. In fact, the basis for the screenplay was a novel called All on a Summer's Day, written by John Garden (a title and author name which seem distinctly non-noir). The Garden name was actually a pseudonym for Harry Liff Verne Fletcher (1902-74), whose day job was as a schoolteacher in Llandridnod Wells.

The story begins with Jim Medway (Derek Farr) turning up at a remote coastal house at four in the morning, apparently to visit a woman. He passes a mysterious man who is leaving the house, whom Doctor Who fans will instantly recognise as the first Doctor, William Hartnell. A scream is heard...

The following day, it turns out that the woman is dead and so is a mysterious man who has plunged from the dangerous cliff path. Medway calls on Charlie Durham (Hartnell), a local entrepreneur who has been having an affair with the dead woman - who proves to be Medway's estranged wife. The plot complications thicken from there.

The quality of the cast lifts this film out of the ordinary. We have Naunton Wayne as an affable police inspector, and Peter Lorre as Durham's psychopathic sidekick. Medway manages to spend his day blackmailing Durham while getting friendly with an attractive woman (Joan Hopkins) who has personal problems of her own. The seaside locations help to make the implausibilities of the plot bearable, and Ken Annakin directs intelligently, even though the story meanders around quite a lot. It's not exactly Body Heat, far less Double Indemnity, but I enjoyed it.

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