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When a USAF sergeant stationed on a base in England is suspected and
then accused of murdering a woman, both he and a local school teacher
must race to clear his name and find the real killer.
Fascinating mix of pedestrian acting, atmospheric scenes and period themes in this British B movie. All the action occurs against the backdrop of how a small, provincial English town exists alongside a US air base. Mostly depicted as drunken revellers, the USAF flyers are viewed with irritation and eventual hostility by the local townsfolk. Added to this is an interesting depiction of a working single mother, balancing parenthood, running a business and trying to chase some semblance of a social life - all credit to Burke here, as she captures Mrs. Lloyd's strengths and vulnerability in equal measure. The central relationship between Crawford's Sgt. Jimmy Bradford and Griffiths's prim school teacher lacks credibility, although whether this is due to performance or the extreme differences in character etc. is open to debate.
In lots of ways this is just a standard 'wrong man' procedural, yet there are a number of elements that raise it above the mundane - the eerie lighting and sound during the two evening scenes in the town's municipal gardens; the relish with which the murderer approaches his victim - almost drooling and glistening with depraved pleasure; the sweetness of the children enjoying the pantomime and most of all an astonishing performance by John Dare as the little boy caught up in a nightmare. A more natural performance by a child actor would be hard to find - witness the delight on his face as he watches the pantomime, his sadness and bewilderment momentarily forgotten, and best of all the simple sequence where he wakes up, crawls out of bed and wanders around the house looking for his mother, gradually realising that for the first time in his young life his mother isn't there. This sequence alone is worth the 'price of admission' and all credit to Shaughnessy for creating such an extraordinarily moving, even shattering scene.
Not a masterpiece by any means then, but definitely worth a look.
Alfred Shaughnessy's The Impersonator (1961) is one of those thought-
forgotten little films that has seen its profile rise in the last few
years, in this case because horror film experts like Kim Newman and
Pete Walker have praised it and made it clear to their considerable fan
followings that it is worth tracking down (for a comprehensive
appraisal of the film, check out Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane's
excellent book on the history of British B-movies). A lowly supporting
feature from cheapjack outfit Bryanston Films, it stars in the lead
role Hollywood also-ran John Crawford as a US Airforce sergeant who
finds himself accused of murdering a local woman whilst stationed in a
small English town. As he tries to clear his name with the help of a
friendly schoolteacher (Jane Griffiths), the murdered woman's eight
year-old son (John Dare) gradually reveals various snippets of
information that will lead the police to the real killer, a
psychopathic pantomime dame played by veteran character actor John
Though hampered by its short running time, The Impersonator does feature some unexpected grace notes that set it at a level above most British B- movie fare; notably, the unpleasant inhabitants of the town in which the murder takes place are economically characterised by various bit-part players through just a few lines of dialogue, whilst the acting of Dare (giving surely one of the most underrated child performances in British film) and Salew (skin-crawlingly perverse as the 'dirty old man' killer) is in both cases excellent. Definitely one of the stronger second features that proliferated in British film during the 1950s and 60s.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Crawford is an American serviceman in a town which seems to be rather angry with them.They won't let him take a class of local schoolchildren to a pantomime and there are always locals on hand to rubbish the Tanks at every possible opportunity..There is something nasty in the bushes in the local park.Unfortunately it pounces on a woman who went to a dance with a Crawford.This makes Crawford the main suspect.He is arrested for murder.However he is not put in a cell and is able to escape without much problem..The son of the murdered woman has a fixation with mother goose in the local pantomime..The actor playing him turns out to be the murderer..There are some good scenes early one but the film is let down by a poorly developed climax,and the woeful acting of the child portraying the little boy..His voice is a monotone and he is incapable of registering any emotion..There were good child actors around then for example Mandy Miller and Hayley Mills.It does rather spoil the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very poorly acted and scripted movie but not without interest, an
American serviceman is wrongly accused of the murder of a woman, the
acting in this film verges on the downright silly to very bad, the
leading lady is oh so terribly posh to be bothered with men but hunky
John Crawford appears on the scene, the murderer is probably the most
ridiculous villain ever in a movie, in actual fact he is playing lead
in the Mother Goose pantomime but in reality is a leering sex murderer,
and the final scenes where he is chased up the theatre curtain is a
hoot, in any case if you have the misfortune to see this film you will
crease up at this final scene and think to yourself, how did the police
know it was him that did it?, there is no evidence against him just an
off the cuff remark from the murdered woman's little boy.
This film could have been a whole lot better if one or two scene's were directed properly as it has it's moments, quite creepy ones in the park where the murderer is stalking young women.
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