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This is a feature-length compilation of three short episodes taken from a TV series called 'Colonel March of Scotland Yard' (1954-56, 26 episodes) starring Boris Karloff as Colonel March, head of Scotland Yard's Department D.3, otherwise known as The Bureau of Queer Complaints. Karloff is called upon to solve murders of a particularly weird, exotic, or puzzling kind. One episode involves a murder of a Javanese dancer (not a Japanese dancer as another reviewer believes), another involves magic tricks with mirrors, and a third a bank robber in a rubber mask who hides his money inside a dummy radiator in his office. Joan Sims, later very well known as a comedienne, is very funny as the secretary of the man in the mask. (In the TV series, this episode was called 'Hot Money', a pun on the money being in the radiator.) All three of these episodes were directed by Cy Endfield (also known as Enfield). Boris Karloff is very good in the title role. I always have found Karloff very congenial when he was playing a straight role. It is a pity he did not do that much more often. This compilation is amusing, and we get some good shots of fifties London from time to time. The idea behind the stories was very good, and casting Karloff as the lead was also a good idea. It is a pity that someone did not take this concept and make some quality films. Someone should do a fifties period retro TV series today based on this concept, and it could be as interesting as FOYLE'S WAR if the right lead were cast and the stories were sound enough. The stories here are a bit feeble, but it would not be too difficult to come up with better ones.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A compendium of three adventures for Boris Karloff as the eye-patched
Scotland Yard man in charge of D3 - Department for Queer Complaints
(really). Stitched together (without ceremony) as a plug for the
British television series, it clearly worked, since twenty-odd
subsequent episodes appeared over the next four years, keeping Karloff
in genial, efficient work.
Here, he investigates a bank robbery, the murder of a Japanese dancer and a young couple whose house is apparently haunted by a pair of murderous gloves. I bow to no man in my admiration for the director, a victim of the McCarthy blacklist, but he brings no distinction to this assignment, filming flatly and cheaply (Richard Wattis' nightclub appears to be no more than one table, a tiny stage, an even smaller bar, and a dressing room) and apparently most interested in getting to the end of each story.
Which leaves only the plots, and these are mild indeed. Each turns on a supposedly mysterious twist which only Colonel March's brilliantly insightful mind can discover - the culprits are never in much doubt, the question is how they thought they could get away with it - but the audience is never allowed into the deductive process. We're left with Karloff twinkling away (always a pleasure) and a lot of ropey old technique. The Endfield who made, for instance, "The underworld story", is nowhere in evidence.
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