Descius Heiss is a French expatriate, and former Devil's Island prisoner, with two passions; driving shrewd bargains in antiques at his Sly Corner Shop, and the care of his Beautiful ... See full summary »
[to the lift-man]
I'm looking for Variety.
That's eight floors down.
But I've just come eight floors up!
Then it'll be sixteen floors down.
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This is pretty fascinating stuff on a number of levels: the then visualisation of radio broadcasting for cinema audiences, the then limitations of radio and cinema technology, a frank and snappy dialogue, some wonderful art deco furniture and sets, the great Elizabeth Welch singing, and an all too brief song from Eve Becke and whichever band Percival Mackay was leading at the time. And the BBC for once apparently received no complaints after twenty five million people had listened to a live radio strangulation. Probably Lord Reith would have at least apologised.
A radio actor is murdered during a live broadcast, the cast and crew are therefore suspect and the hunt by Detective Inspector Ian Hunter is soon on for the culprit in a short and swift film. The perceived interiors of Broadcasting House looked flimsier than the acting but the unmasking of the dastard involved a cast-iron alibi being broken. It's one thing knowing that back then BBC radio newsreaders were booted and suited or in full evening gowns with no one to see them but another to have scantily-clad showgirls performing mainly for the edification of the microphones. Maybe it's a BBC trait! There's a young heavily eye-shadowed Jack Hawkins in here, Henry Kendall was as urbane as ever, and Donald Wolfit had a small - but vital - part in one of his first films. Many iconic poses were struck with many nice scenes. What a pity all BBC broadcasts weren't preserved on steel tape, never mind about for the Empire but for the broadcastless future generations - over the years many BBC radio shows survived only on transcription discs meant for foreign consumption.
If I wanted to be awkward I could add that I personally think genuine talent and honest morality have both been strangled to death at the obese Broadcasting House over the last eighty years too and because of this no one has therefore logically seen fit to make a movie about it. But I'm glad this was made - it's still a refreshing atmospheric whodunit and something to make you think!
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