|Index||3 reviews in total|
The comic duo of Gordon Harker and Alastair Sim make "Inspector Hornleigh"
an entertaining and watchable light mystery story. The plot itself has a
couple of good touches - for example, getting good mileage out of a pair
similar briefcases - but it is the two main actors who make the film worth
Harker (who plays Inspector Hornleigh) began his career with good supporting roles in three of Alfred Hitchcock's silent movies, and had a good sense of comic timing that he puts to good use here as the inspector in charge of a baffling case. Sim was an idiosyncratic, entertaining character actor who is best known for his wonderful portrayal of Scrooge in the 1951 version of "A Christmas Carol". Here he is Sgt. Bingham, the Inspector's earnest but inept sidekick, a good role for his distinctive talents.
"Inspector Hornleigh" is fairly routine as a mystery, but it is made very watchable by this entertaining comic pair who work well together. It is little known today, but in its time it was considered good enough that it led to two sequels. It is worth seeing if you like mysteries with some comic touches.
I am a sucker for a good whodunit, and "Inspector Hornleigh" was an
excellent one. It had an elaborate plot and I could not guess the
murderer until... come to think of it, I didn't guess the murderer
until it was revealed at the end of the picture, so well-written was
the screenplay. And, brother, it was written, and written, and...
This picture was loaded with dialogue, enough for 2 or 3 pictures, but in the end I felt it was all worth it. I enjoy Gordon Harker more each time I see him and he is very convincing when playing a police inspector. Here he is Insp. Hornleigh of the title, and he was every bit as good as he was as Insp. Elk in "The Frog" (1937). He is aided by Alastair Sim, playing his weak-minded sidekick police sergeant. Speaking for myself, I did not mind his antics, as films of the 30's and early 40's often tried to blend comedy and mystery, more often than not a futile effort, I have found. But it worked here.
The rest of the cast was competent, although two of the suspects looked very much alike, causing occasional confusion. Another reviewer mentioned that the sets looked cheap - that may be, but I gave it a pass and was not conscious of an effort to pinch pennies in any phase of the production.
All in all, a worthy effort and worth your while, because I always feel that, ultimately, the play's the thing, don't you?
In 1939, Fox amazingly went to all the trouble to send Eugene Forde to England to direct Inspector Hornleigh. Based on a totally boring BBC radio series by Hans Priwin, the movie had a Poverty Row budget that even Monogram would be ashamed of. Virtually nothing was spent on sets or effects, the extremely limited budget being roughly divided 50% on the cast, 30% on technicians and only 20% on studio overheads. The title character was played by Gordon Harker (who did a reasonable job, considering the wordy, almost actionless screenplay), while Alastair Sim was cast as his incompetent assistant, Sergeant Bingham. Although this movie has its fans, I was not impressed. Sims over-acts and over-reacts to a most irritating degree, while the minor characters make no inroads at all into the suffocatingly dialogue-bound screenplay in which a host of tedious, z-grade thespians propound no mystery worth penetrating. The only player who comes out of this melange of boundless talk with any credit is the lovely Miki Hood who not only manages to survive Philip Tannura's warts-and-all photography, but still contrives to look attractive and retain the viewer's interest even when mouthing the most inconsequential lines.
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