Wednesday 5 December 2018

Do You Know This Voice? - 1964 film review

Do You Know This Voice? is a shortish British film based on a novel of the same name published in 1961. The author was Evelyn Berckman, someone I've not yet read, but there is enough in this movie to persuade me that her books would be well worth seeking out. Apparently, she was an American who moved to Britain, having published her first novel at the age of 54, and she went on to carve herself quite a reputation. She also published several books on the unexpected topic of naval history.

At first, the film seems to be a mystery about a kidnapping. A mysterious individual makes a phone call to the parents of a kidnapped child, demanding money they haven't got. The parents call in the police, in the fairly sympathetic shape of that excellent character actor Peter Madden. He arranges for the kidnapper's next call to be tape-recorded. But alas, things go terribly wrong. The faint-hearted should be warned that this is a story in which a child dies, and so does a domestic pet. I'm not sure how many writers would risk that nowadays...

As the title suggests, the police issue a public appeal for information about the mysterious caller. But in a plot twist (quite neat, but foreseeable) the identity of the person in question is quickly revealed, and the film becomes a suspense story, as a desperate killer tries more than once to murder the one woman who can reveal the caller's identity.

The tension is nicely built up, and this film has won admirers over the years. The cast is pretty good, with another good actor, Gwen Watford, playing an important part; Dan Duryea is at the heart of the action, as is the Italian Isa Miranda. My main reservation about the storyline is that the killer is ludicrously incompetent. Frankly, it was inconceivable that someone so clueless would ever get away with murder, even though the police make a fair few blunders as well. And the relationship between the married couple at the centre of the story, although very interesting, is not drawn in depth. So I wasn't convinced by the story, but I suspect the source novel is superior. 

No comments: