Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense: Season 1, Episode 10

The Corvini Inheritance (8 Jun. 1985)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Horror | Mystery
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 34 users  
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The lonely and obsessive Security Chief of a London auction-house takes his work home with him when a female neighbor complains of a ski-masked stalker. Meanwhile, the auction-house handles... See full summary »



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Title: The Corvini Inheritance (08 Jun 1985)

The Corvini Inheritance (08 Jun 1985) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Lane
Jan Francis ...
Eva Bailey
Terence Alexander ...
Stephen Yardley ...
Stanley Knowles
Paul Bacon ...
Timothy Morand ...
Mollie Maureen ...
Elderly Lady, Courtney
Leonard Trolley ...
Robert Swales ...
Gordon Brophy
Benedick Blythe ...
Bob Fraser (as Benedict Blythe)
Marianne Borgo ...
Madame Roulier
Johnnie Wade ...
Taxi Driver (as Johnny Wade)
Peter Atard ...
Williams (as Peter Attard)
1st Female Model
Ruth Burnett ...
2nd Female Model


The lonely and obsessive Security Chief of a London auction-house takes his work home with him when a female neighbor complains of a ski-masked stalker. Meanwhile, the auction-house handles a valuable collection which includes a necklace said to bear a deadly curse.

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8 June 1985 (USA)  »

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Fantastic stalker story!
20 February 2010 | by (Manchester, England, UK) – See all my reviews

THE CORVINI INHERITANCE is one of the best episodes of the HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE series as I shall demonstrate.

The TV series in question was a combination of hits and misses. Some episodes had wonderful concepts but became bogged down in very boring 1980s drama styles, with upper middle-class characters exchanging boring dialogue with each other. Most 1980s drama in Britain was executed along these lines. On the other hand, some episodes of this TV series were genuine exercises in suspense, tension and genuine horror. THE CORVINI INHERITANCE is one such episode. Another is A DISTANT SCREAM. But the best by far is IN POSSESSION.

The plot is as follows - a young woman who lives alone in a block of flats is terrorised by a stalker wearing a ski-mask. Living next door to her is a man who is the security chief at a local auction house. The two become close and the man does everything possible to help, including the installation of CCTV cameras. Who is the mysterious stalker? Can he be stopped? Watch and see for yourself.

The concept is far from unique but the execution plays more on emotions and psychology. There is no blood or gore here. It may sound like THE TOOLBOX MURDERS but the only thing the two have in common is the presence of a mysterious character with a ski-mask.

The first strength of THE CORVINI INHERITANCE is the acting.

The always dependable David McCallum gives a stellar performance as Frank Lane, the head of security at a local auction house. His character was genuinely likable and easy to connect with on an emotional level. The range of emotions he expresses is truly moving and his reactions to everything that happens around him is highly believable.

Jan Francis decides to move away from the JUST GOOD FRIENDS sitcom in favour of a more serious role. Her performance as Eva Bailey, the woman terrorised by the stalker is stellar. Her character's strong will makes both her fear and frustration believable and thus easier to connect with.

The late great Terence Alexander - a famous character actor in Britain of the 1960s through to the 1980s - has an interesting role as the manager of the auction house. His delivery of lines is always excellent and he could make even the most boring dialogue sound compelling regardless of the role he played. This one is no different.

The rest of the supporting cast have small roles but play their parts well. They clearly understand the importance of their characters in the story and the importance of ensuring the delivery of every line and every reaction is perfect in order for the story to be conveyed in the right way.

And this brings me onto the second strength - the story.

The initial plot is already compelling in itself. To prevent boredom from setting in following scenes of action, the producers wisely decide to tag on two other story lines.

The first of these story lines revolves around the delivery of an unusual necklace to the auction house. The previous owner of this jewel has a somewhat disturbing past and the jewel itself almost appears to have a personality of its own! This is highly important to the story. Further to this, McCallum begins to experience strange phenomena at the auction house - whispering voices, strange visions, falling temperatures and so on. He is convinced that the jewel is connected to this.

The second storyline is designed to add depth to McCallum's character. He becomes closer and closer to Francis's character. Personality, emotions and intentions are revealed that make the character a highly interesting creation. Again, this is integral to the overall story.

The presence of the separate story lines in one overall story ensures the viewer's attention is sustained for the whole 75-minute duration. It also distinguishes this episode from others in the series.

All the various plot strands tie together in a logical and highly intelligent manner. As with all the best episodes of this TV series, THE CORVINI INHERITANCE has a highly memorable ending that remains imprinted on the viewer's memory long after it's all over.

And this brings me onto the final strength - the direction.

Gabrielle Beaumont has a long career as a director of TV shows, mostly drama, made in America. She shows a genuine understanding of making a story compelling.

Ms Beaumont understands the importance of character's reactions in conveying emotions. This is why she ensures the camera angles and the duration of shots is perfect at every point.

Ms Beaumont understands the importance of making characters interesting to watch and understand. This is why she uses a unique trick of showing McCallum's character on CCTV as a supporting character talks about his history. The camera cuts between McCallum and those watching him are highly effective.

But there is another pleasant surprise in store.

Direction by Gabrielle Beaumont utilises camera angles, haunting music, bizarre sound effects and tight editing to turn what could have been a mundane thriller or drama into an excellent work more akin to horror.

Even a simple scene that shows the stalker walking upstairs feels scary thanks to Ms Beaumont's superb direction.

The block of flats is not a particularly atmospheric location in itself. However, thanks to Ms Beaumont's careful direction, it does in many scenes feel like an incredibly eerie place where danger awaits!

Overall, THE CORVINI INHERITANCE is a truly compelling work that is a must-see for fans of David McCallum or fans of thrillers involving stalkers.

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