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A British agent called Philip Scott is killed in a plane crash near the
Turkish border. His wife Joan (Betty McDowall) is concerned by a
memoriam in the newspaper signed by a mysterious woman known simply as
Diana but no trace can be found of her. She is helped by journalists
Pamela Jennings (Clare Owen) and Bill Vernon (Vincent Ball) who is keen
to do a series of articles on Scott claiming that he knew him during
the war. The pair have both had their flats ransacked and are summoned
by security chief Colonel Justin (Geoffrey Toone) who believes that
both jobs were perpetrated by a double agent called Harris whom is some
how connected in the Philip Scott case. Later Joan is approached by the
head of an Eastern embassy, Kavali (Peter Illing), who informs her that
her husband is alive but has defected to the East. He says that if she
wants to be reunited with her husband arrangements will be made to get
her out of the country to which she agrees but is all as it seems?
A modest but better than you would expect spy drama from quota quickie specialists, Butcher's Film Distributors, who seem to be enjoying some resurgence of interest in their prolific output of low budget programmers as many of them including this one are finding their way on to DVD. Reginald Hearne's script is at times confusing but for once there is some suspense to be had as Betty McDowall's distraught wife seems to be going along with the enemy agents to join her husband who has allegedly defected. The story is kept moving at a good pace by director Ernest Morris whose career was almost exclusively in b-movies and he is helped a lot by Walter J Harvey's atmospheric black and white camera-work. The acting especially from McDowall and Vincent Ball is good all round.
In the days of the cold war, many films and TV series were based on the
themes of espionage and mysterious disappearances. It was unsurprising
second-feature specialists Butcher's would produce one in this
However, this is well-plotted and genuinely suspenseful in parts, with a good twist in the tail. If the low budget is obvious in the production values, the acting is solid, especially Vincent Ball as the journalist who is more than he appears and Betty MacDowall in her specialist rôle as the grieving widow.
"Echo of Diana" is quite a good little spy-noir, although it does have
some unexplained action. Dermot Walsh, who only appears briefly at the
end, is a pilot whose plane goes down in Asia Minor. He's reported
dead. His wife, Betty McDowall, is helped along throughout by her close
friend, Clare Owen. Owen takes the lead in some instances.
Espionage and an espionage ring are involved. Some strange things begin to happen. McDowall soon learns from a diplomat of an embassy of the crash region that certain belongings of her husband have been returned, but they turn out not to be his. An announcement (referring to Diana) appears in the newspaper that suggests knowledge of Walsh's death before he crashed. A rather sly journalist (Vincent Ball) appears who wants to write an article on Walsh. Owen is accosted by a strange man in her parking garage. The diplomat early in the story informs McDowall that her husband is in fact alive and that she can secretly go to see him if she keeps her travel a secret. She agrees. Ball begins to work with Geoffrey Toone, who is in a branch of Scotland Yard, and Owen is called in to see Toone (and Ball) after her apartment is tossed. Ball is there because his apartment too was ransacked.
Everything is taken care of in just over 59 minutes. The style of the film is straight-ahead story-telling without heavy melodramatics. Emotion is present but its restraint shows through. There is politeness and coolness. There's no in your face violence. The style lends itself to a certain amount of suspenseful tension, even if some aspects are fairly predictable.
Definitely recommended for fans of these British 1-hour movies. This one is not boring and moves right along with engaging action and acting.
A cheap British spy effort from those hard-working fellows at Butcher's
Film Service, ECHO OF DIANA offers something a little different for
fans of the genre. For a start, it's not a film with a clear-cut plot;
most of this one takes the form of a mystery that slowly unravels over
the hour-long running time. It's an intriguing little thing in places,
following a wife's determination to solve the mysteries surrounding her
husband's death in a plane crash in Turkey.
A friend and reporter help her to uncover the truth about what happened, and the authorities also take a keen interest. However, there's also a murderous kidnap gang at work, and each of these factions works against the other as the running time unfolds. Part detection, part kidnap thriller, part hostage drama; ECHO OF DIANA is always sedate and a little genteel, but it kept me watching from beginning to end, which is more than can be said for some.
Australian actress Betty McDowall is the erstwhile lead and pretty good with it too; her character grows on you and she evokes sympathy as the storyline progresses. The casting director had an eye for talent with lots of good little roles for the likes of Geoffrey Toone, a funny Michael Balfour, a quirky Marianne Stone, and even a pivotal cameo from Dermot Walsh. Director Ernest Morris made this back-to-back with SHADOW OF FEAR and it's by far the superior of the two films.
Given the demand for spy films generated by the success of the James Bond films Butchers decided to have a go.However they did it with a tiny budget and a plot that would be enough for a film 2 hours long.I watched this twice and i have to confess that i still did not understand the twists and turns in the second half of the film,with a shoal of red herrings swimming around.There just seemed to me to be a large number of incidents that were unexplained.The film was competently acted and directed and the whole thing rattled along at a fair pace.However once you have partly lost the thread in this sort of film you are completely lost
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