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An escapee from a concentration camp, Movita (Marie Durand), is rescued
by Wilfrid Lawson (Kristan) at the lighthouse where he works just off
the German mainland. He is German but isn't as patriotic as he is
fixated on this woman who has turned up at his lighthouse and who
resembles his wife who apparently drowned several years ago. At the
same time a British spy, Michael Rennie (Anthony), fools Wilfrid into
thinking that he is his co-worker who he is expecting to come and work
with him. Rennie is really biding his time before he can make his
getaway to England on an expected passing ship. Can Rennie make his
getaway before he is revealed as an impostor and can Movita escape her
German captors and more importantly, the desires of the complete madman
that is Wilfrid Lawson......?
There is an interesting premise to this film as it is set on an island with a lighthouse. It gives 100% credence to the notion that lighthouse keepers are complete freaks. Wilfrid Lawson is excellent as an oddball lighthouse keeper with a hook for a hand who is afraid of no-one, rude to everyone and definitely very scary to live with. Check out what he keeps in his basement! At the end of the film, he just goes to another planet called planet INSANE and you really don't want to be there with him, especially if you are female. Whilst the story is entertaining, I thought that there could have been a better way of signifying who the Germans were. Still, it is a different story and I'll be keeping it to watch again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This excellent wartime thriller is a film that benefits from a low
budget for once. The setting for the film is a lighthouse in Germany,
and most of the running time takes place within the claustrophobic
confines of the building. It's an essential three-hander about a
maladjusted old lighthouse keeper who has been spending too many years
by himself, and two other characters who join him and both have their
own hidden motivations: single-named actress Movita, recently escaped
from a concentration camp and desperate to evade the authorities, and
undercover spy Michael Rennie.
It's a great setup and thankfully TOWER OF TERROR is a film that doesn't disappoint. The short running time flies past with plenty of different sub-plots, each of which turns out to bear relevance to the main storyline. I love spy and resistance films set in occupied Europe during WW2 because they're inherently tense and suspenseful and this film is no exception. However, it's also a towering portrait of psychological angst and disturbance, similar in ways to the classic Bluebeard story.
The quality acting really enhances the story. Movita makes the most of her role and is far more than your usual damsel in distress. Rennie is young, agile, and likable as the spy you don't want to see get caught. Best of all is Wilfrid Lawson as the lighthouse keeper; initially he's presented as an underdog hero character before his true personality comes to the fore, and it's an excellent reveal. Even George Woodbridge appears, playing an Nazi and looking much more youthful than in his later Hammer roles. TOWER OF TERROR is an excellent little film that thriller fans are sure to love.
In the days when this was made there were no thoughts of the days when this film would be shown on TV.As a result some of the scenes ,shot in almost pitch darkness cannot be viewed.Even when i turned the room lights off i couldn't see what was happening.Lawson plays an insane lighthouse keeper!Nothing like typecasting is there.He has a hook instead of a right hand.As the film progresses as he becomes as mad as a march hare.Michael Rennie opposite him gives a good impression of an oak tree.Rennie is a British agent trying to escape from Germany.Lawson believes that Movita is the reincarnation of his late wife who is buried at the bottom of the lighthouse/The plot is silly but watching Lawson go mad is always an enjoyable experience.watch out for the lorry being driven on the left hand side of the road in wartime Germany.
Two great popular British eccentrics of the '30s of stage & screen were
Ernest Thesiger & Wilfrid Lawson who was also a passable baritone. In
British wartime second feature, a suspenseful espionage thriller set in a
remote lighthouse off the Dutch coast commanded by Lawson with a fearsome
hook for a right hand, a young saboteur(Movita) is rescued from the sea
having thrown herself in following a pursuit by some Gestapo officers.
Rescued by Michael Rennie an undercover British agent taken on as Lawson's
assistant she soon falls prey to the latter's growing obsession because of
her close resemblance to his dead wife buried at the bottom of the tower.
There ensues a gripping cat-and-mouse situation with Rennie desperately
plotting their escape before Lawson, his suspicions growing with his
to recreate his wife in Movita virtually a prisoner, kills him following
one lucky escape. After a hand to hand struggle,Rennie becomes trapped in
one of the rooms while the now totally nutty Lawson drags his prisoner
to where his wife's remains are buried and frantically unearths her
Meanwhile a warship alerted by a signal from Rennie has successfully found
the tower and opens fire....
A few years earlier, in his first Hollywood film noir, Peter Lorre had a
similar problem with Frances Drake and a pair of someone else's
Satwalker99 Kent UK
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