|Index||9 reviews in total|
"The Accursed" is a kind of old dark house mystery. A group of men who
were in the World War 2 underground meet at Wolfit's invitation. His
goal is to ferret out the man who betrayed their leader. On his way
from the continent is a man who knows who did this. However, he is
murdered on Wolfit's doorstep.
Robert Bray, an American intelligence officer, arrives too, and he also seeks the betrayer.
One more murder occurs before the person responsible is uncovered.
I watched this for the acting of Wolfit, a standout in "Room at the Top", but the cast also includes Christopher Lee, Karel Stepanek and Anton Diffring, and Robert Bray is cogent. I also watched it as a possible film noir. It pretty much measures up on that dimension too. The piano prelude is very nice and supports a noir atmosphere, as do the fear and suspicion of all those involved.
As far as plot and logic go, they eluded me. Everything hinges on Wolfit not being told over the telephone who the culprit is. This made little or no sense, but without that there is no story. Then Bray enters and seems already to know the person's motivation for betrayal. That was out of the blue.
It's a flawed result that nonetheless has its points of interest. Christopher Lee manages to do a lot with physical acting, even with a lesser role. Diffring is consistently an interesting presence on screen. Wolfit is suitably perplexed and Bray stalwart. Jane Griffiths provides some worthwhile female relief.
THE TRAITOR is nothing more than one of those 'old dark house' type
mystery films dressed up as something else. There's a definite Agatha
Christie vibe going on here (think TEN LITTLE INDIANS) as a group of
characters meet up in a sprawling mansion to discover which of their
number is a secret Nazi traitor intent on claiming the lives of the
rest of the group.
The story has a WW2 background with the assembled men being Germans who are former members of a resistance group fighting against the Nazis. One of their number hangs himself and the men believe a traitor forced him to do the deed; the rest of the running time follows a classic whodunit mould with Robert Bray the investigating hero.
THE TRAITOR suffers from a slow and stodgy first half where it takes an age for the men to even be informed that there's a traitor in their midst. Still, it does pick up towards the end and particularly at the climax, and there's a solid cast to keep you watching. Donald Wolfit (BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE) is the one-armed lead, and he's supported by the familiar faces of Christopher Lee and Anton Diffring. Not a classic, more of a curiosity piece for fans of this era.
You would think with a plot like you'd have in "The Accursed" that the
film would be exciting. However, I found it to be a boring, talky mess.
When the film begins, there's a reunion of WWII resistance fighters. However, it seems that several folks aren't there this year and it appears as if someone is killing them! Perhaps one of them is really an old Nazi taking out their vengeance on the group. A nice setup, huh? Well, this all comes out in the first few minutes of the film...what follows are a bunch of folks in an old house...and a US military man who shows up and talks and talks and talks trying to piece together what's happening.
Had the film been able to unfold OUTSIDE the room and there had been far less talking, it would have been a good film. But you don't SEE any of the action and the result is just claustrophobic and boring....very, very boring despite fine actors like Christopher Lee and Anton Diffring being in the movie.
This could have been better as a TV play or radio play or anything but a film.It has a very good cast including that scene stealer,Donald Wolcott,everyone favourite German,Anton Differing,and a pre Dracula Christopher Lee.The film is an old dark house mystery with a Nazi twist.They are going to be told who was the traitor in their midst but the informer is murdered.They don't call the police and decide to find and try the murderer themselves.After another murder the culprit is finally unmasked using one of the oldest tricks known to thriller writers.So it all ends up neatly tied up.Much too much talk and rather statically filmed.
This is a sinister post-war drama with a terrible ring of sadness and
tragedy about it, as the murderer is himself unaware of the fact that
there is no ground for his motive. It's a tragedy of treason, and no
one understands anything about it until it's too late.
This is therefore very much a film of mysterious undercurrents, understatements and hidden meanings, a film "written between the lines". It's easy to dismiss it for its failure to convey it's true meaning, but you do it wrong if you don't give it a lot of afterthought.
The surviving members of an underground resistance group against the Nazis meet annually in an old mansion outside London to commemorate their leader who was shot on that day by the Nazis. It appears that someone in the group had betrayed him. The new leader colonel Price, played by Donald Wolfit in a typical role of his, announces his decision to find out who the traitor was among them at their new meeting, and no one is allowed to leave the place until the issue is settled. An agent is on his way from Berlin to reveal the name. He never reaches them alive, and two American intelligence officers come importuning at their meeting to make matters worse and more complicated.
Donald Wolfit is a sure name to make any film he participates in a most memorable event. Christopher Lee as the doctor attracts all suspicion from the audience by his covert attitude as of a man who knew too much. Anton Diffring as the pianist contributes with the mood by his music, which he wants to call "Prelude to Death" which is altered to "Prelude without a name" by those who want to live. It's very reminiscent and almost a paraphrase of the Warsaw Concerto, it certainly brings the same atmosphere but is less efficient as music, while the drama story here is much more interesting and goes deeper. It's the difference between before the war and after.
At the same time it's a very intriguing murder thriller on the level with Agatha Christie, but here everything is logic and natural, it's a matter of inevitable tragedy of fate and not at all an artificial intrigue, like commonly with Agatha Christie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Confusing whodunit that has to do with the betrayal of a
member of the groups resistance fighter in occupied France during WWII
that cost the life of their leader the fearless and take no BS Irving
Garhart a man that you would follow into the very gates of hell if he
lead you there. With the annual get together of the surviving
resistance members meeting at Col. "Lefty" Price, Donald Wolfit,
country estate there's to be a surprised appearance by the unexpected
visit of Theodore Dehmel,Colin Croft, who's to reveal whom the traitor
who turned Garhart into the German Gestapo who is to be among those
assembled guests. It just happened that Dehmel got stabbed from behind
just before he could expose the traitor muttering in his dying breath
that he made a mistake in who the traitor really is! As it turned out
the mistake that Dehmel made was being in the movie to begin with.
We get this long and boring sequence as all those at Col. Price place try to find out not only who sold out the fearless freedom fighter Garhart but also who murdered Dehmel in preventing him from exposing Garhart betrayer. Nothing seems to really happen until unexpectedly US intelligent office Major Shane, Robert Bray, and his sidekick Lieut. Grant,John Van Eyssen, show up to get out of the rain only to end up taking over the murder investigation without being asked to. Just too talky and over the top to both follow and take seriously the film was in fact cut by some 15 minutes for American audiences so it could make any sense to them which turned out to be a losing effort on the part of the studio.
***SPOILERS**** In the end with another one of the guest Thomas Rilke, Oscar Quitak, getting murdered for knowing too much and it's finally revealed that Garhart wasn't exactly what he was cut out to be and in fact got exactly whet he deserved! That with the confused Dehmel killer jumping the gun or knife in killing him before he let out the secret about Garhart's actions that in fact jeopardized the entire underground movement! There also a very young Christopher Lee before his Hammer Horror movie days as Dr. Newmann as one of the former members of the underground movement who seemed to have trouble staying awake throughout the entire movie.
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