First time director Phillip Brandon does a fairly workman like rendering of Edgar Wallace's 1923 novel, "The Missing Million", a British mystery/comedy thriller. There's a strong emphasis on humour throughout, although there are still dramatic highlights. But, without a doubt, the highlight of the entire movie is the wonderful and stunningly glamorous Linden Travers, one of the finest British actresses of her generation ("The Lady Vanishes", "No Orchids for Miss Blandish", "The Ghost Train", "The Terror", etc), and she gives a delightfully subtle performance here, with all her trademark skills. She alone makes this movie worth watching. For fans of Travers, it's a far sassier, more worldly role than usual, definitely slightly influenced by American heroines of the time, and her deceptions even rather poke fun at the traditional damsel in distress types.
She has an enjoyable relationship with co-stars John Stuart, and Patricia Hilliard, and is quite simply a joy to watch - If you love her in this, the definitely watch "The Ghost Train", easily her best role. The plot is a fairly standard muddle, with a missing fortune, a few murders, and a blackmailer known as "The Panda" - although why this is, we never actually find out. He signs his presence with a tiny porcelain statuette of a panda all the time, anyway. Marital bliss in the Walton household is about to be upset by a shocking conspiracy, which will claim may lives. Can Inspector Dicker (John Stuart) put a stop to it all?
Stuart is a laid back hero, in the best British tradition, and compliments Travers very nicely. Rather less inspiring, though, is Charlie Victor's "Knobby Knowles", a woman-hating, comic safe-cracker, who provides light relief throughout the movie, and generally defuses situations throughout. Victor seems rather strained in his humour, and his "I hate women" gag gets rather tiresome very early on, although it continues right through to the bitter end. A little less of Knowles, and some more of Inspector Dicker - who kind of vanishes about half-way through for some reason - would have helped things a lot.
Also of interest, there's an early appearance from a young Valentine Dyall (The Man in Black), playing a surprisingly weedy part. He doesn't get a great deal to do, but puts in a performance totally unlike the gruff, intimidating style that he would go on to define in later years. Co-star Patricia Hilliard is fairly entertaining too, although her role in the plot gets a little tangled up near the end, as a few too many complications are layered on, but she gives a good performance nonetheless, and is someone for Travers to bounce off in her more static scenes. For Hilliard, though, this would be her last ever movie performance, her most famous role probably being a part in sci-fi epic "Things to come."
Overall, then, it's a fairly enjoyable romp, although perhaps lacking in dramatic incident. However, it has plenty of charisma and charm, although the plot does go a bit wild towards the last twenty minutes or so, and some rather poorly realised cinematography lets the finale down considerably. The identity of the panda is revealed largely without much fanfare, and few complications along the way. The final resolution is disappointing, although not terrible. Entertaining for fans of this generation of films, although not quite a classic. "The Terror" - also starring Linden Travers, and comic maestro Alistair Sim was a far better film, with richer comedy, stronger drama and a better plot, perhaps the highlight of the "Edgar Wallace" films currently being released. Rather forgettable, but fun nonetheless.
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