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With its distant echoes of Laura, Postmark for Danger (a.k.a. Portrait of
Alison) survives as one of the few English crime dramas of the post-war
period with some of the grit and menace of American film noir.
plus one Canadian, make up the principal cast. But the film betrays its
British provenance with its assumption of the utter incorruptibility of
London police - a notion that wouldn't pass muster on the west side of the
Atlantic - as well as with its the-butler-did-it resolution.)
Robert Beatty, a commercial artist, hears some bad news from his pilot-for-hire brother (William Sylvester): a third brother has died in a fiery car crash in Italy, along with a young actress he had met. Then strange things begin to happen: The police grow interested in a postcard his dead brother may have sent him, as do elements of the underworld; and the father of the actress commissions him to paint a portrait, working from a photograph, of his daughter. Next, he returns to find the portrait vandalized, the photograph missing, and his favorite model dead in his bedroom, wearing the gown in the painting. He becomes the prime suspect in the murder when no evidence can be found to support his wild claims - until the supposedly dead actress (Terry Moore) shows up at his door.
At the end of the day, Postmark for Danger settles down into a tidy police procedural about a ring of diamond smugglers. But for much of its course it unfurls in a tantalizing mist of eerie and unlikely coincidences, many of them centering on the word `nightingale.' Credit should probably go to director Guy Green, who started out as a cinematographer (he shot David Lean's Great Expectations). It's an enjoyable if minor entry, albeit one with just a little bit extra.
This UK film from 1955 opens with a car racing along the road, over the cliff it goes, and bursts into flames when it hits the canyon below. Geoffrey Keen is Inspector Cobly, who is investigating the accident. We are introduced to Tim and Dave, the brothers of the deceased driver. You'll recognize "Henry" (Allan Cuthbertson) from Fawlty Towers, and whole lot of British TV. I see Hopscotch (AWESOME film) in Cuthberson's list of roles, but can't remember what he did in it. Tim (Robert Beatty) also starts checking out what's going on, and he bumps into people who have the answers, but don't want to give them up. Terry Moore stars as Alison, and seems to be at the center of all this grand adventure. Pretty entertaining. I've never seen this one before, and as of today, doesn't have any comments on the discussion board. Must be new to Turner Classics. There is a twist here and there, but nothing earth shattering. Story by Francis Durbridge, who wrote this in between all the (British) TV series for which he was known. Directed by Guy Green, who had received an Oscar for directing the 1948 Great Expectations.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Originally a television series based on a story by crime writer Francis Durbridge, Portrait of Alison (AKA Postmark For Danger) is a neat thriller with enough twists and turns to keep anyone guessing. An excellent cast, especially Robert Beatty as artist Tim Forrester, who does a good job of underplaying the character, and Alan Cuthbertson in his screen debut, the first in a long line of oily villains. Also watch out for minor uncredited roles by Sam Kydd as a chirpy telephone engineer, Jack Howarth (later to play Albert Tatlock in long running ITV soap Coronation Street) as a hotel porter and Frank Thornton (later to play Captain Peacock in the BBC sitcom Are You Being Served ) as a policeman.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Painter Robert Beatty and pilot William Sylvester find out their
brother had a fatal carcrash in Italy, killing and burning him and the
passenger, model Terry Moore. Police inspector Geoffrey Keen does a
routine investigation among known associates looking for a postcard the
brother sent right before he died, when Beatty gets an assignment by
Moore's dad to paint a portrait of his deceased daughter. Soon after he
finishes it someone paints over the face and his last model, Josephine
Griffin, is found strangled on his bed, wearing one of Moore's dresses.
As Beatty soon finds out, not only is Moore still alive, but his
brother's death is linked to a diamond smuggling ring and people close
to him are willing to kill for the postcard.
The movie is based on a story by Francis Durbridge which was originally adapted into a serial/mini-series for British TV, but (with a different cast & crew) also turned into this movie, which happened with several of this stories. While the death and 'resurrection' of Terry Moore ('Shack Out On 101', and still working!) as well as Beatty's ('Odd Man Out') personal connection to her portrait might remind of 'Laura' (I imagine this bit was expanded upon a bit in the serial), the movie as a whole does not. It is a rather nice noir/mystery with a Hitchcock- ian macguffin in the form of the postcard.
Maybe because of its serial origins, the movie is jam-packed and moves at a rapid pace, but it never feels rushed. The movie starts with a short but beautifully done pre-credits carcrash scene, and the cinematography throughout by Wilkie Cooper ('Mine Own Executioner', Hitchcock's 'Stage Fright') is atmospheric and even striking at times. Second-time director, and former DoP himself, Guy Green ('House Of Secrets') does a good job of not rushing the movie. He also co-wrote the screenplay (with another Britnor director, Ken Hughes), I imagine they trimmed quite a bit. They're also helped by the solid cast, who make the more illogical parts and actions of the plot & characters seem believable.
The main negative to the story is that the mastermind of the smuggling ring is too easy to determine through basic process of elimination. But other than that, I really enjoyed this movie. More than solid and definitely will re-watch this again. Recommended! 8/10
This British film from 1955 stars Robert Beatty, Terry Moore, and
Commercial artist Tim Forrester (Beatty) is visited by his brother (Sylvester) and learns that a third brother was killed in a car accident in Italy. A young actress, Alison Ford, was with him and she, too, died.
The police seem to be looking for a postcard they believe the dead brother sent to Tim - a drawing of a chianti bottle with a woman's hand holding it, but Tim doesn't have it.
The father of the dead Alison commissions him to paint her portrait and gives Tim a photo of her and the dress she wore in the photo. When he returns home one night, the painting has been ruined and one of his models (Josephine Griffin) is dead in the bedroom, wearing the dress from the portrait. He now is a suspect in her murder. Then Alison Ford shows up, not dead at all.
The premise is Laura-esque as far as the portrait and the dead woman not being dead, but the similarity ends there. The plot concerns international smuggling, and the postcard is very important as police search for the mysterious head of the ring, Nightingale.
The cast has British, Canadian, and American actors in it. It's a bit strange because one of the brothers has a British accent and the other doesn't. Terry Moore is very young and pretty here, and the overall acting is good.
Though this is a British film, the outside influences make it seem more American than most of these movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** British film noir having to do with a mysterious
postcard sent from Italy that's responsible, in trying to get their
hands on it, for some half dozen murders. It's American in London
artist Tim Forrester,Robert Beatty, who realizes the importance of the
mysterious and missing, in the mail, postcard in that it was sent to
him by his brother interpol agent Lou Forrester just before he was
killed with a woman hitchhiker in a car crash outside Milan city
limits. The shocking news was relaid to Tim by his kid brother
commercial pilot Dave Forrester, William Sylvester, who was the last
person to see him before his fatal accident.
In trying to find out the circumstances behind his brother and hitchhiker's, said to be actress Alison not actor Harrison Ford, deaths Tim soon realizes that there was foul play involved in their so-called car accident! Things get even stranger when the model Jill Stewart, Josephine Griffin,who was posing for Tim is found strangled in his loft making him the #1 suspect in her murder. What makes thing even wilder is that the hitchhiker who supposedly was killed in the car accident together with Lou actress Alison Ford, Terry Moore, turned up alive in London and in fact was the person who discovered the murdered model Jill Stewart's body!
****SPOILERS**** All these murders turned out to be connected to a postcard, of a wine bottle, that Lou Forrester sent to his brother Tim just before he was killed. It's discovered on that postcard with invisible ink and under under ultra violet light that Lou listed the members of a diamond smuggling ring that's working out of London that brother Dave is a part of! This leads the police as well as Tim to the person behind all this smuggling and murder known only as "Nightingale". It was "Nightengale" coming out of the shadows or closet in order to silence those, like Tim & Alison, who were on to him that caused his sudden demise. That by him trying to be so overcautious in his operations he in the end blew his cover in trying to murder Alison, that he met back in Italy, whom he thought could connect him with the jewel smuggling ring that he was in charge of. She couldn't but Lou's mysterious postcard certainly could and did!
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