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This is a neat, entertaining and witty British movie from the 1950's which is very much enhanced by an excellent lead performance by Derrick De Marney as Slim Callaghan. Based on a Peter Cheyney novel, and featuring his main character of Callaghan, the film moves along at a brisk pace, and the plot, which is quite involved, never sags and retains the viewers interest all the way. This is helped in no small way by a sharp and vibrant script. Although other actors have portrayed Slim Callaghan, there is little doubt that De Marney is by far the best. His laconic and downbeat style fits the character perfectly, and it is a pity that it was never put to further good purpose. In many ways, he provides a perfect comparison to similar American-style gumshoes in movies from the 40's and 50's, in particular. The scene in the nightclub, when he is tempted by singer Adrienne Corri, is a joy of deadpan expression and he certainly carries this film along in a thoroughly expert way. You are left with the distinct impression that this is how the author imagined his main character to be. All in all, a film well worth catching and one that should gain a wider audience.
Every few months I am compelled to re-watch this gem. I'm blessed at my age to forget enough of the plot to make the story fresh each time. Not that this would matter to me. I am time and again captivated by its fast-moving and evolving plot, a main character that darts through the story like the Mad Hattercompelling me to chase after hima brilliant supporting cast, wonderful black-and-white photography, ace direction, scads of original wit, and its captivating musical theme. Now about that Derrick De Marney: the man is second to none in giving flesh and voice to the irrepressible, seedy, but endearing Mr. Callaghan. The sleazier de Marney plays his role the more lovable he becomes. De Marney delivers the most disingenuous assurances with deadpan sincerity and utters in driest tones more implied meanings than an oracle in an uncooperative mood. Callaghan ceaselessly prods my curiosity until I ask, 'Where now goeth this man?'and wonder what next he'll draw from a sleeve. The entire cast is impeccable. In his only and short appearance, Roger Williams, as Bellamy Meraulton, is as spectacular as to steal more than his share of the scene from de Marneyno small feat. None can be faulted for turning in a weak performance, from Michael Balfour as the coffee stall-keeper, to Trevor Reid as the inspector, to Belinda Lee as maid Jenny Appleby. Harriette Johns is divine and not enough can be said for Larry Burns as Darky. To the end, de Marney holds his character and Miss Johns captivates. There are forgettable movies and movies we forget; bad movies or splendid ones worthy of recalling. There are others which were tops in their time but cannot hold up in a later era. "Meet Mr. Callaghan" was tops, is tops, and shows not a spot of age. Even Eric Spears' theme is as delightful as when it had been initially released. I urge strongly that you meet Mr. Callaghan.
MEET MR. CALLAGHAN is a detective story devoid of detection and
interest. It just sort of plods along from beginning to end without
ever engaging the senses or providing even fitful entertainment.
There's a mildly exciting opening murder sequence and it all goes
downhill from there as the viewer is introduced to one of the dullest
lead characters ever in a film from the era.
Derrick De Marney plays the hero, who is a kind of 'gentleman sleuth', a variety beloved back in the day. He underplays it to the point of catalepsy; never has a film cried out for a more lively and invigorated hero than this one. The mystery itself is a plodding affair with the villains given little screen time and a general lack of clue-solving and detection which makes it a very boring experience. More time is spent with the insufferable policeman (Trevor Reid) harassing the protagonist than on the actual plot. Adrienne Corri makes a mark in an early role.
Derrick de Marney plays private detective Slim Callaghan in this fast
paced British mystery. Callaghan is a bright, fast talking fellow, but
still his detective agency has fallen on hard times. So when a young
socialite drops in at his office close to midnight and drops 500 pounds
sterling on his desk he jumps at the case. The heiress wants Callaghan
to protect her as she fears her wealthy stepfather may be murdered and
that the guilty person will implicate her.
Callaghan smells something fishy right away, but can't turn down the cash. When he learns that the stepfather has already been murdered he begins to suspect his client may be the killer. Still, he works hard and quickly to gather information. He probes all angles and doesn't miss a chance to fatten his own wallet at every opportunity.
This is the second film based on the character created by Peter Cheyney. The first film is Uneasy Terms, with Michael Rennie playing Slim Callaghan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Derek de Marney is Peter Cheyney's tough British private eye Slim Callaghan who in this "pilot" for a proposed Callaghan movie series, requires him to solve the mystery behind the death of a much-hated rich man. Callagham, a fictional British private detective in the American "hard boiled" mode, was the central character in several popular Peter Cheyney novels, in a stage play by Gerald Verner, and in the 1948 movie programmer UNEASY TERMS (also available below), which starred Michael Rennie. Directed by Charles Saunders (JUNGLE STREET, THE GENTLE TRAP, KILL HER GENTLY, BEHIND THE HEADLINES, NAKED FURY, THE NARROWING CIRCLE, A TIME TO KILL, THE END OF THE LINE, DANGER BY MY SIDE).
Derrick De Marney plays Slim Callaghan as a poor mans version of Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe rather unsuccessfully.The air of world wide cynicism may work for Bogart or Dick Powell but it doesn't work for him.This is one of those rather over plotted thrillers where the private eye is always one step ahead of the dimwitted police and the actual killer comes as little surprise when the identity is revealed in the denouement.In the meantime Adrienne Corri is given time to warble a ballad in a nightclub and show a lot of fiery temperament.There is the usual attempt at a funny sidekick,from an actor i do not remember>Michae Balfour who normally fills these roles has a small part as a bartender.Fairly undistinguished all round.
Derrick De Marney is the worst actor i have ever seen in my entire life, he reads his lines like he is talking about the most boring things in the world, this guy (not actor) could cure insomnia, i would loved to watch the film it sounded interesting but 5 minutes of his pathetic acting is all i could stand. He is like one of these 60's gay actor is given the job just because he is gay rather than having any acting skills, i find it hard to believe he has been to any acting school at all, other than his school play & probably put all the parents into a coma. Just what the director was thinking about casting him is beyond belief just looking at the daily shoots should have told him he is totally miscast, private detective? he looks more like a party nerd or insufferable bore.
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