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During WW II, one of the hits of the London stage is a play about a murderer who strangles his victims. The actor who plays the strangler identifies so strongly with his part that when he receives a blow to the head during a bombing raid, he believes that he actually is the strangler. Written by
Reginald Parker is the writer and star of the hit play "The Brighton Strangler" although the repetitive play and the constant performances have gotten to him and, despite the sell-out crowds he plans to draw it to an end and do something different. However a bombing attack on London during opening night leaves him stumbling around on his own with a head injury. As he tries to piece things together all he can get is snippets of his play and soon he finds himself remembering the life of character Edward Grey as his own and he boards a train for Brighton.
Although starting out with a clever (if dated) concept this film doesn't do anything of real value with it and instead just plods towards the ending that is actually quite good in a strange way. With a central idea that was probably fresh and new back in the 1940's, the film mainly focuses on following Parker as he becomes his own creation. Problem is that, past this idea and about two moments where he struggles with his conflicting memories, there is nothing to this film and it easily becomes just a simple story about the Brighton Strangler and, if Parker's play was as straightforward as this film then I cannot understand why it sold out so much! I would have liked the character of Parker/Grey to have been complex and interesting as a result of his mixed personalities but as it is he is very straightforward and lacking imagination.
Loder is good at the start and as he becomes Grey but once he is in character (literally) he just does the basics and lacks any sort of flair or style by the end of the closing credits I had already forgotten what he even looked like. His support is just as uninspiring with solid but unmemorable turns from Duprez, St Angel, Mander, Hobart and Evans to name the main players. The director does quite well with the sets but without the material being darker and/or deeper there was only going to be so much he could do.
Overall this is an interesting idea but the film doesn't carry it further than that. The characters of Grey and Parker briefly cross over twice but other than that there is nothing in either of them to produce a real interest. The murders are quite engaging but without the moral darkness they are only as atmospheric as the music and direction allows them to be. Worth seeing as a light thriller but with so much missed potential it is understandable why it is rarely seen these days.
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