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Filmed at the peak of Gordon Harker's popularity(Inspector Hornleigh)this was probably the strongest of the three Hornleigh films. Hornleigh and assistant Sergeant Bingham (Alastair Sim)are on holiday staying in a guest house in a wind swept coastal town. Initially trying to overcome the boredom they attempt to play Billiards and mix with the other guests which provides plenty of opportunity for Sim to get laughs with his unusually simpleton like character.Fraud and murder are soon on the agenda and despite his initial reluctance to get involved Hornleigh is soon on the case. A fascinating glimpse of what could have been had Harker & Sim remained a team,as they had all the attributes of a great double act.In the guises of Hornleigh and Bingham they are unique as a deadly serious and intelligent superior and a complete buffoon assistant although if one looks beneath the surface comparisons can be drawn with Laurel & Hardy or even Abbot & Costello albeit without the slapstick knock about farce of these better known pairings. I would recommend this film highly and feel it is a tragedy that it is not currently available in any format.Prints do exist and are very occasionally broadcast on regional British T V.If you do get the chance to view this film you will be treated to an excellent light hearted suspense movie with some fine atmospherics of the time,also a couple of very dated performances from the supporting cast most noticeably Wally Patch as a simple British bobby,however I feel that this only adds to the films aged charm and hope that all three Hornleigh films will be available before too long.
My wife and I are on a mega B&W "screen in" at the moment (mostly
British - the preferred genre) and Saturday nights are like the old
cinema used to be! Without the usherette.
However, the two previous reviewers have said just about everything you need to know about this film - Harker and, especially, Sim are superb.
Look out for the very subtle and much underplayed joke with the billiard cue - classic! Had me bursting out with laughter when I noticed it, and I'm sure this was the deft touch of Alastair Sim.
Minimum of ten lines of text it said! So, what more can be said apart from looking out for actors like Kynaston Reeves (the 'beak' in the BBC television's 1950s Billy Bunter) and many much loved uncredited character actors such as Irene Handl, Peter Bull, Megs Jenkins, Derek Farr et al. I wouldn't put the duo of Harker and Sim quite in the Laurel and Hardy league but it is a great shame that there were only three made.
Is that enough to post?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To Fox's amazement, the dreadful "Inspector Hornleigh" movie was a huge
success, especially in the provinces where Monday at Seven enjoyed by
default (there was little else on offer by way of entertainment) a
truly enormous following. Cinema managers were quick to capitalize on
"Inspector Hornleigh" by playing the movie as their main Saturday night
attraction. When an avalanche of unexpected profits started to pour in,
Fox quickly realized they were on a winner. A sequel was called for.
The scenario department had a novel called "Stolen Death" by Leo Grex
on hand. This was handed over to the studio's top writing team, Frank
Launder and Sidney Gilliat, who were told to let their heads go, as
money was no object for this major "A" production.
Actually, the budget was only about ten or twelve times that spent on the original entry. All the same, Launder and Gilliat turned in a delightful script that deftly combined laughs and thrills, with the accent, if anything, more on the latter than the former. Moreover, the humor arises naturally from the situations and is neither superimposed nor artlessly drawn out as in the first film. A top support cast, led by the super-lovely Linden Travers (as the passionate femme fatale), Edward Chapman (the villain who starts the corpses rolling) and Cyril Conway (a radio actor whose actual face was totally unknown to moviegoers), was engaged by a really on-the-ball casting director (had Weston Drury transferred from Teddington to Gaumont at this stage or was it later in 1939 or early in 1940?). Jack Cox, at this time Britain's number one cinematographer, Alex Vetchinsky, the premier art director, and Robert Dearing, the brilliant film editor, were also assigned to the production. And to direct, the studio called in Walter Forde, an artist whose standing was so high in the profession, he could afford to free-lance, either taking his choice of plum assignments offered him by the major companies, or setting up his own projects. Of course, although Edward Black is credited as producer, he had absolutely nothing to do with the actual shooting of the picture. Once Walter Forde was signed, the production reins were handed over to Forde's wife, Culley. Walter and Culley Forde always worked as a team, Walter directing, Culley producing. It was a perfect combination. Culley was tough. She ruled the set with an iron hand and deferred to no-one except Walter.
From his own extensive background in music hall comedy, Walter Forde had an intimate knowledge of laughter-making. He applied his talents to the Harker-Sim team. The first thing he did was to induce Harker to tone down his performance and play the role perfectly straight. Inspector Hornleigh is grumpy, yes; but stupid, no. He's also smug, self-centered, arrogant, and self-indulgent. Sergeant Bingham is still his foil, even more so than in the first movie, which explains why a clever man like Hornleigh keeps him around. Bingham is no Einstein, but he's not the total lack-wit he presents in the first adventure. He's no coward either, and although he's forced by his superior to take all sorts of hair-raising risks, he does just that, even if somewhat complainingly and hilariously reluctantly. The script cleverly builds up these situations, making each more dangerous and perverse, from the noirish creepy old house and grave-ribbing sequences right up to the thrilling roof-top climax.
"Inspector Hornleigh on Holiday" induces more than enough laughs to qualify as one of the year's top comedies, yet is sufficiently thrilling and atmospherically grotesque to be considered as film noir. (Oddly, despite their immense popularity, none of the Hornleigh movies are currently available on commercial DVD, although they have been frequently televised by Channel 4).
The comedy team of Harker & Sim hits its stride in "Inspector Hornleigh
On Holiday", a laugh-a-minute comedy film from the 1930's British arm
of Twentieth-Century Fox. Attempting to capitalize on the first in the
series, "Inspector Hornleigh", Gordon Harker as Insp. Hornleigh once
again plays the straight man to Sgt. Bingham, the buffoonish Alastair
Wait a moment, though. This is supposed to be a murder mystery, a genre which normally conflicts with attempts at humor. Oddly enough, these two qualities were blended in movies made before WW II, and with what I consider disappointing results. A case in point would be "The Cat And The Canary" (1939), which I felt lost all credibility with Bob Hope in a key role.
But there is good news. This film works! Despite the Harker-Sim shenanigans, it is a fascinating mystery story with some neat plot twists and red herrings and holds the viewers interest to the finale. Following the pattern of sequels, it is not as good as the first picture but is good enough for a rating of seven.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The second to be filmed Inspector Hornleigh mystery which begins in a
rainy seaside resort where the Inspector and Sergeant Bingham are not
enjoying a holiday until one of the guests of the hotel they are
staying at runs his car off a cliff. Then follows a fast paced story
taking in a spooky house, a cemetery, a bridge club and a hospital
before the main villain is uncovered. The plot hold together very well
until the last revelation.
Gordon Harker as Inspector Hornleigh and Alastair Sim as Sergeant Bingham repeat their roles from the first film and are as good as before. They are chalk and cheese but manage to work together to solve the crime. Supporting them ably are a gallery of familiar faces; Linden Travers, Edward Chapman, Kynaston Reeves, Peter Bull, Irene Handl and Megs Jenkins. John Glyn-Jones and Betty Jardine as a courting couple are hilarious.
With it witty lines, interesting story and fine acting this is another winning entertainment.
In the second of three movies, Gordon Harker and his very Scotch
assistant, played by Alastair Sim, are enduring a rainy vacation in
Brighton. One of their fellow guests is killed in a car accident, and
the pair are called in to identify the body. Harker suspects murder;
when Sim spots the dead man walking on the street, the two investigate.
Inspector Hornleigh was invented as a radio serial puzzle mystery for the BBC. The movies, under the direction of Walter Forde, turned them into comic efforts. They were produced by Twentieth Century-Fox; like Warner Brothers and MGM, they were producing movies in the years leading up to the Second World War.
Although the Hornleigh movies were well received and the talent involved was topnotch (Sidney Gilliat and FrankLaunder are two o the writers) and Harker & Sim make an amusingly contrasting pair of coppers, I don't find the movie to be of much greater than average competence; some o the details of the mystery seem to be more melodramatic than intelligent and Sim's character began to pall quickly. Perhaps that's why he turned down any further efforts after the following episode.
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