When Secret Service agent David Somers is fired, he takes a quiet job with the Fentons at their country estate - cataloging butterflies, hence the title insect. David grows fond of Jess ...
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When Secret Service agent David Somers is fired, he takes a quiet job with the Fentons at their country estate - cataloging butterflies, hence the title insect. David grows fond of Jess Fenton's niece, a fragile, fey young woman named Sophie. Because he hates traps of any kind, he reacts quickly when Sophie is framed for the murder of Hick, the nasty handyman. He helps her escape London by using his agent's skills and a network of old friends. The pair lead the police and David's ex-employers an exciting chase, from Newcastle to the Lake District to Liverpool. As the fugitives try to catch a ship for France, everyone, including the murderer, join in the finale. Written by
Mike Rogers <MICHAELPEM.@aol.com>
Howard arrives back in London on a BOAC Avro Lancastrian (a converted Lancaster bomber) from Sydney via Darwin, Jakarta,Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo and Rome. In the Lake District, the tea room Howard and Simmons call at, the Aira Force Tea Room on Ullswater, is still there. The helicopter chasing Howard and Simmons in the Lake District is a Sikorski R-4, known as the Hoverfly when flown by the RAF and Royal Navy. In Liverpool there are some shots of the Anglican cathedral, started in 1904 but not completed until 1978. There is a decent shot of the long defunct Liverpool Overhead Railway, and in the docks, a Mersey Docks & Harbour Board saddle tank shunting engine. See more »
CLOUDED YELLOW is a favourite from my schooldays because of its basic ingredients - a haunting mystery, a fascinating chase across England from a deceptively-drowsy Hampshire to the bustle of Liverpool docks, a rousing climax and the only on-screen teaming of two great British stars. Hitchcock was the obvious model, a factor utilised in the marketing of the recent DVD and the director Ralph Thomas actually remade THE 39 STEPS - very flatly - at the end of the decade. Thomas was a prolific journeyman of variable competence, turning out thrillers, war films, adventure stories, historical dramas and comedies (most notably DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE) but lacked the personality to conjure a classic.
David Somers (Trevor Howard) is an M.I.6 agent - a sort of low-key James Bond without the glamour - who's put on the back-burner after botching an operation. He opts for a job cataloguing butterflies (hence the title) at a rural retreat where he involves himself in the troubles of Sophie (Jean Simmons) the young ward of the house who's suspected of murder when the local bad-lad (Maxwell Reed), with whom she'd been quarrelling, is found with a knife in his back. Somers takes it upon himself to extricate this trapped butterfly from police hostility (very Hitch) and smuggle her out of the country with the help of his contacts. Despite the presence of Kenneth More on the sidelines (waiting for the big break so soon to come) there's no (conscious) humour in the film at all and no Hitch-tension between the leads. Though motivated by a romantic attachment as well as the urge to atone for past mistakes Somers seems more a father-figure than a potential lover. No teasy-weasy handcuffs and wet stockings here, it's all very stiff upper-lip and he never questions her innocence though the girl remains an enigma until near the end. As a child she'd witnessed the violent death of her parents but has blocked out the memory (very SPELLBOUND). When she starts to get it back the real perpetrator of crimes past and present turns up in Liverpool to silence her. What follows is like watching MIDSOMER MURDERS turn into THE PERILS OF PAULINE complete with cliff-hanger. Wildly over-the-top and completely illogical it's great hare-brained fun and very gripping. Whether this startling gear-change was originally planned or came about during production is unclear. The film certainly terminates very abruptly with the pair in long-shot walking away together over the rooftops, arms around each other, though the gentleman at this moment looks about a foot taller than Mr. Howard. Hitchcockery is catching. In the changed ending to SUSPICION we're given a back-of-heads shot of Grant and Fontaine where the heads quite obviously aren't theirs.
Ralph Thomas does bring off one nifty Hitch trick quite well. Somers appears to capitulate to pursuing cops and sends them into a restaurant to pick the girl up. When they reach her table she's no longer there and a brassy blonde greets them instead while Somers too has cleared off. Nice one. Hitch would smile.
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