The Dark Man is an enjoyable, lightweight British thriller written and directed by Jeffrey Dell, whose first crime screenplay was an adaptation of C.S. Forester's classic chiller, Payment Deferred, in which Charles Laughton starred. The producer was Julian Wintle, famed for his work on The Avengers in the Sixties. This movie has a good cast, with the likes of Barbara Murray, William Hartnell, and the ubiquitous Sam Kydd in minor roles. The mysterious villain who gives the film its title is Maxwell Reed, who was apparently the first husband of Joan Collins.
Reed's character takes a taxi to a lonely house where he seeks to rob a petty criminal. When the criminal retaliates, he is murdered. And then the taxi driver is murdered, for good measure. The Dark Man is evidently a psychopath, although we never get to find out much about him. But we fear for Molly Lester (Natasha Perry) when, cycling past the scene of the crime, she catches sight of him.
This fleeting identification drives the plot, since the dark man becomes determined to eliminate Molly as a witness. Frankly, I'd have thought he'd have been much better off making a run for it. But no, he hangs around the coastal resort where Molly is working as an actress, now under the protection of Scotland Yard's DI Jack Viner (Edward Underdown). Molly is attractive and charismatic, if foolhardy, so we care about her fate; she falls in love with Viner, who is very much of the stiff upper lip school. I felt, however, underwhelmed by Underdown's performance.
The coastal setting is in many ways the star turn of The Dark Man. It's rather bleak, with a military firing range, derelict castle, and old lighthouse, but highly atmospheric. I don't know south east England well enough to recognise the location, but I thought it very well chosen.