Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Jigsaw - 1962 film review

Jigsaw is a first rate British black and white crime film, which I caught up with on Talking Pictures recently. An unusual and intriguing feature of the film is that it's set in Brighton, but based on an American source novel, Sleep Long, My Love (1959), written by Hillary Waugh, doyen of the police procedural. The name of Waugh's series detective, Fred Fellows, is given to his British incarnation - played by none other than Jack Warner. Yes, Dixon of Dock Green himself.

Val Guest wrote and directed the film, and my understanding is that, despite the change of location, he remained fairly faithful to the source material. Changing the country in which a novel is set is often questionable - I didn't really see any advantage in setting The Girl on the Train in the US, for instance. But although I haven't read the novel, I feel that Guest does Waugh proud.

The story begins with the murder of an attractive woman in a lonely house The killer is her lover, but we don't see him. The next development is a break-in at a local estate agency. The mysterious theft of a set of leases leads the police, eventually, to the house where they discover the woman's dismembered remains. The key questions concern her identity, and that of the murderer. But there are interesting and important subsidiary issues. Why did the killer break into the agency, thus in effect giving the game away? And what made him stop before completing the task of dismemberment? The answers prove crucial to the solution.

A splendid cast contribute to the entertainment. The avuncular Warner is abetted by Ronald Lewis, who plays his nephew, a promising young cop. John Le Mesurier, Ray Barrett, John Horsley, Reginald Marsh, Moira Redmond, Norman Chappell, and Robert Raglan are all involved - really, the cast is a roll call of well-known British actors of the 60s and 70s. I was especially interested to see John Barron (C.J. from The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin), in which Horsley also appeared as Doc Morrissey) playing an untypical part as a member of staff at the estate agency. The atmospheric photography of Brighton adds to the watching pleasure. Highly recommended.

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