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In 18th-century England, the Royal Crown sends Royal Navy Captain Collier and his crew to investigate reports of illegal smuggling and bootlegging in a coastal town where locals believe in Marsh Phantoms.
Peter Graham Scott
Paul Decker murders his wife in her Italian villa by drugging her milk and asphyxiating her by gas. He cleverly locks the bedroom from the inside and hides inside a trapdoor in the floor until after the body is discovered by servants. He uses a scuba snorkel connected to tubes on the outside to breathe during the ordeal. Decker's stepdaughter Candy suspects him immediately, especially since no suicide note was found. She also is convinced that he murdered her father years before, but her accusations fall on deaf ears. The ruthless Decker even poisons the family spaniel when the pet takes too great an interest in the mask and realizes he will ultimately have to get rid of Candy too. Written by
Minor but entertaining Hammer thriller, not quite reaching the heights of other entries in their "psychological thrillers" ouevre, but still effective.
The film starts right off with it's main murderer on screen committing his evil deed, clearly establishing his (and the film's) gimmick of the snorkel used as an accessory to murder. So from the very beginning we know this is not going to be a whodunnit. What we have here instead here is a "who will find out" plot.
Once the opening credits have finished, the main plot of the film starts with the daughter of the murder victim feeling almost positive that she knows who is responsible for the deed but at the same time, unable to prove it, as nobody has been able to work out how the act was committed, and therefore the killer has got away with it. The more agitated the daughter becomes, the more the killer starts to see her as a threat to his freedom, and so a cat and mouse game starts to build as both try to outwit each other.
This sounds complicated, and it is, but the roles in the film are quite well defined. The killer is a creepy but charismatic older man, able to convince everyone that he is actually mourning his dead wife, and the "suspector" is a teenage girl who everyone thinks is just over imaginative. I could almost imagine William Castle making this film! The acting is very good, and it's all very British and proper. There are plot twists and the climax is clever and worth waiting for, although as a whole the film has dated somewhat. Quite hard to see now, seemingly only available on the Sony 6 film box set DVD "Icons of Suspense", which is worth a purchase due to it having 5 other hard to see Hammer thrillers. So "The Snorkel" gets a thumbs up from me.
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