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This is the first film based on Francis Durbridge's long-running BBC Radio serial. A gang has been executing a daring series of smash and grab robberies. A policeman on the case appears to commit suicide, but crime novelist and amateur sleuth, Paul Temple, suspects foul play. With the help of the victim's sister, reporter Louise Harvey (who uses the pseudonym "Steve Trent"), Paul sets about tracking down the notorious diamond robbers... Written by
I watched an old but watchable print of "Send for Paul Temple" with Anthony Hulme playing novelist Paul Temple. He's smart enough that Scotland Yard sends for him to help solve a case of jewel thieves doing smash and grabs. Hulme's assisted by female Joy Shelton, a reporter who works under the pseudonym "Steve Trent", and they are the love interest. There's quite a lot of action in the story. The villain of the piece is an unknown mastermind, in an Edgar Wallace vein. Hulme's Temple is a laid back figure, not as forward as a Falcon or a Saint, and nowhere near a tough guy like a Michael Shayne. He's closer to a Lone Wolf or a Crime Doctor, but lacking the verve and forwardness of those.
The film comes across as having a certain charm and nostalgia. However, the story has such big plot gaps and the emotions are so muted that one can only shake one's head. In one scene, a policeman goes into an inn while Hulme waits outside. A moment later, a shot rings out. He's an apparent suicide, according to the innkeeper. There are only two people in the inn at the time. Ordinarily, this would lead to pressure and an investigation but nothing much happens except that Hulme sees that the innkeeper is lying. Similarly, there is a murder inside Scotland Yard by cyanide put into a drink fetched for a witness being interrogated. The reactions of Hulme and the investigators are extraordinarily muted. There is no investigation, and we are left wondering in astonishment. When Joy Shelton learns of her brother's death, she is hardly shaken and very soon after is her old self.
A side note: Paul Temple has an oriental servant played by a white actor. This is done so unconvincingly that it's embarrassing.
Having gotten used to the greater reserve and gentility evident in old British films, this one fit right in for a change from other kinds of films. When in certain moods, films like this are as comfortable as old shoes, bringing back memories of the early days of television when old and dark films filled the airwaves.
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