Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Broken Horseshoe - 1953 film review

The Broken Horseshoe is a thriller based on a serial by Francis Durbridge. The director, Martyn C.Webster, had a long association with Durbridge from the Thirties onwards, and was a key influence on Durbridge's radio career, while Peter Coke, who plays the police inspector in this movie, was one of radio's best Paul Temples.

But this isn't a Paul Temple story. It's a stand-alone mystery, and it boasts some of the classic Durbridge hallmarks, although it''s not as consistently compelling as some of his later serials, in which his mastery of the cliff-hanger was so evident. The premise is a good one - a successful doctor operates on a man badly hurt in  a hit and run accident, and become infatuated with a mysterious woman who has some inexplicable connection with the patient.

The mystery woman (played by Elizabeth Sellars) persuades the naive doctor (Robert Beatty) to say nothing to the police after she turns up at the block of flats where the doctor has just found his former patient murdered. Obligingly, he discloses to her that the dead man had given him an envelope addressed to an unknown woman, and that inside it he has found only a railway ticket. In the flat where the body was found, someone has daubed on a mirror a picture of a broken horseshoe.

The doctor's persistent foolishness is rather irritating, and tends to weaken the grip of the story. The plot hinges, as so often with Durbridge, on the antics of a criminal gang, and I didn't feel that the later development of the story fulfilled the promise of the set-up..There is a reasonable plot twist, but the acting isn't quite strong enough to allow us to overlook the shortcomings. Not bad, but by no means the best of Durbridge.

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