Norman Conquest (1953) Poster

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entertaining UK-made Tom Conway mystery
django-127 May 2003
This review is of the US release of the film, under the title NORMAN CONQUEST. One of the many interesting UK pick-ups released by the fading Lippert Pictures in the early 50s to pad its schedule, this mystery should satisfy any fan of B-movie mysteries. Star Tom Conway made a big impression as the Falcon on film and Sherlock Holmes on radio (taking over from Basil Rathbone), and his charm and wit and style pretty much make any film he is in worth watching. The Conquest character--evidently well-known in the UK as there is no attempt to "introduce" his character in the film--has elements of Boston Blackie and the Thin Man and The Shadow (the interplay with his jealous fiancee is very Shadow-like)and Ellery Queen. He is a financially stable dabbler in detection and has a nemesis within the police force who always seeks to get him out of the way. This film should get some kind of record as the mystery begins in an outrageous manner within the first ten seconds of the film! I couldn't believe it, but you have to take films like this one with a LOT of willing suspension of disbelief, and if you go along for the ride, it's quite a bit of fun. There's still one thing I'm not sure about, though. In the scene where Conway spanks Eva Bartok, what is that little clown-like figure in the corner of the room? It's only seen once and never explained. I rewound the tape to watch the scene a few times to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. What's going on here? In conclusion, a solid little mystery here, and one of Tom Conway's last starring roles.
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OK 50's British B-Pic - If your expectations are low enough. **1/2 out of *****
Celticnationalist11 February 2010
'Park Plaza 605' or it's alternative title 'Norman Conquest' is a low budget British B-movie that you will never have heard of with B-Pic regular Tom Conway, (Brother of George Sanders) playing Private Detective Norman Conquest who gets mixed up with Nazi Criminals, Murder, and a Blonde Femme Fatale when he hits a carrier Pigeon playing a golf shot (don't ask!) and proceeds to go to the Park Plaza Hotel room 605 out of curiosity after reading a message the bird was carrying.

Co-Starring Sid James (Before his 'Carry on' fame) and Eva Bartok as the Beautiful Femme Fatale with minor roles for Terrence 'Bergerac' Alexander & Richard 'Allo Allo' Marner.

Not great, but not bad for a 75 min B-Movie...Keep your expectations low and you - Like me, should enjoy

**1/2 out of *****
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sub Falcon tedium
fillherupjacko30 June 2008
I bought this film because I'm interested in the British b film era of the 1950s and I didn't believe that I'd ever seen it before. The score by Philip Green (not the retail entrepreneur), and in particular a smug and highly irritating theme which recurs throughout the score, made me realise that I had seen it many years before. I wasn't able to recall a solitary frame of it however. Hardly surprising. Most of the clich├ęs of the era are present: a suave, gentleman detective played by Tom Conway (George Sanders' brother, don't you know) in a particularly smug and irritating manner it has to be said (perhaps Philip Green's music wasn't that wide of the mark after all); sinister foreigners, unreal characters seemingly unshocked by violence and murder, toe curling behaviour from all and sundry. Based on the Norman Conquest (not that one) novels which were written by Berkeley Gray, Gray wrote over 800 of the blighters.

Bizarrely, its director, Bernard Knowles, directed Magical Mystery Tour for the Beatles fourteen years later. I am the walrus this ain't.

All in all Park Plaza 605 can be summarised as mediocre and lifeless rubbish from the golden age of the British second feature. Buy it now from Odeon Entertainment!
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Tom's Norman Conquest
wilvram21 April 2011
Norman Conquest was the improbably named hero of some fifty light-hearted, tongue-in cheek-thrillers, penned for about thirty years from the late 1930s by the prolific Edwy Searles Brooks under the pseudonym Berkeley Gray. A desperado of the Simon Templar school, Conquest was aided and abetted by his partner Joy "Pixie" Everard, while Inspector Bill Williams was the Claud Eustace Teal figure, always on the verge of at last getting Conquest behind bars, only to see the chance slip inescapably through his hands.

Now period pieces and largely neglected, (though BBC radio attempted a revival in 1998, adapting several of the stories with Christopher Cazenove as Conquest and Bonnie Langford as Joy), the books were at the height of their popularity when this film was made. There was clearly an assumption on the part of the producers that many of the putative audience would be familiar with the leading characters and stock situations, such as Norman's penchant for dangerous blondes, which Sid James as Williams teases Pixie about, while the outlandish business of Conquest accidentally bringing down the carrier pigeon whilst playing golf is entirely typical of Brooks' wacky plots.

Star Tom Conway, then pushing fifty, was, however, far older than the character in the book, so anyone expecting non-stop action was in for a disappointment. He gives his usual affable, charming performance though and it's perplexing how this most essentially British of actors is occasionally delineated as just another imported American star.

The convoluted plot, including the murder of a member of a Soviet trade delegation involving the seductive Nadia (Eva Bartok), diamond smuggling, and a Nazi war criminal could have been handled more efficiently, but Conway's charm and character actors like Joy Shelton and Richard Wattis help it along.

Production values are slightly above average for a British second feature of the day. Co-producer Albert Fennell of course later became famous as producer, and with Brian Clemens, the major creative influence on the filmed series of THE AVENGERS. It would be interesting to know if Brooks' tales of the earlier crime fighting duo of Conquest and Pixie inspired him at some level.
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Minor British snorefest
JoeytheBrit31 October 2008
This one hasn't got a lot going for it really. Despite crediting at least three writers it's pretty dull stuff with an overly-complicated plot. Tom Conway imitates his more successful brother once more. After accidentally killing a message-carrying pigeon with a golf shot (I kid you not) our suave hero ('amusingly' named Norman Conquest) decides to attend the hush-hush rendezvous mentioned in the message that is scheduled to take place at the titular hotel room. There he meets the rather fetching Eva Bartok in a bad blonde wig who quickly shoots him in the face with a spray of knockout powder when she realises he isn't the man he's supposed to be.

It gets even sillier after that, with police detective Sid James making a lot of noise for no real reason other than to pad out the already slim running time. Clues and women fall into the suave Conquest's lap, and the film is quite, erm, saucy, for its time with women bound and gagged or threatening to remove their clothes after being soundly spanked (believe me, though, it's not as interesting as it sounds).

There's quite a few familiar British faces worth looking out for (including bespectacled Richard Wattis as a bad guy), but I was struggling to stay awake less than half-an-hour into this and, by the time it finished, I was left wishing I hadn't bothered..
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Fun, British slice of film noir
Leofwine_draca3 November 2015
PARK PLAZA 605 is a low budget British film noir in which a stock detective-type character helps the police to track down a gang of Russian thieves and murderers. The American title is NORMAN CONQUEST, although it's not to be confused with the filmed Alan Ayckbourn plays starring Tom Conti.

Instead this is a straightforward police procedural with a good little cast and some tight suspense. Tom Conway (George Sanders's less well-known brother) plays a guy who finds himself caught up in a murder when a body is chucked out of a window; he's the main suspect so must discover the identity of the real crooks in order to clear his name.

Although this is a low rent film throughout, it has a fast pace and fair direction from Bernard Knowles. The supporting cast is also a lively one, with a nice turn from Sid James as a comedic cop which foreshadows his later work in the likes of CARRY ON SERGEANT. Richard Wattis appears in a rare non-comedy part, and there are bit parts for genre regulars like Anton Diffring and Terence Alexander. Overall, PARK PLAZA 605 is a fun little film and one I can recommend to genre fans.
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A clumsy frame
bkoganbing13 December 2013
Released on this side of the pond by Poverty Row studio Lippert Pictures, Norman Conquest has the former Falcon Tom Conway playing another private detective who starts heeding the voice of his male member when it concerns the alluring Eva Bartok and gets framed for murder.

It's a rather clumsy frame that all but thick as a brick police inspector Sid James can figure out. Even he's convinced after a while.

It all has to do with some stolen jewels and a Nazi war criminal thought dead but actually in Great Britain. Eva Bartok is from some unnamed Eastern European country and she's playing her own game with both her Communist satellite government and the baron. It all doesn't work out in the end with a climax taken from Destry Rides Again.

Conway must have felt he was back at RKO playing The Falcon. Norman Conquest has a rather muddled storyline and moves to slow even for a 75 minute running time. If you like Tom Conway and/or Eva Bartok I'd check this one out.
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