Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Whirlpool - 1959 film review

Whirlpool is a crime film from 1959 which is quite enjoyable, although the action doesn't really whirl along. At times, it almost has the feel of a travelogue, as the director lingers on shots of the river Rhine, where the action takes place. The screenplay was based on a book by Lawrence P. Bachmann called Lorelei, and the climactic scene takes place at that most fascinating part of the river, by the Lorelei rock.

Juliette Greco plays Lora, who is trying to escape the clutches of a ruthless criminal called Herman (William Sylvester). When he kills someone he was trying to scam, the pair make a dash for it, and Lora finishes us hitching a lift on a cargo boat. On board are Rolph, the skipper, his colleague Georg (played by Marius Goring, who later starred in the forensic science crime series The Expert) and Georg's wife (played by Muriel Pavlow, who was once briefly the girlfriend of that splendid detective novelist Edmund Crispin).

Tensions mount on board as Dina, who fancies Rolph, takes a serious dislike to Lora. Meanwhile, the police are trying to catch up with Herman, and he in turn is trying to catch up with Lora. Since Lora is stunningly attractive, it's no surprise that both Georg and Rolph take a shine to her, as does the young cabin boy, Derek. Lora is well characterised and well acted, although the other major parts are less memorable, and Pavlow is rather wasted as Dina fades out of the main action..

I felt the story moved too slowly for this film to be counted as a complete success. The director, Lewis Allen, was evidently trying for something more sophisticated than a commonplace thriller, but the thrills were a bit too sporadic for my taste. However, the scenery is gorgeous. It's more than thirty years since I took my very first cruise on the Rhine, and Whirlpool brought back plenty of pleasant memories, even if the story itself is rather forgettable.  

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