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The star of a London musical walks out before the curtain up, but the show must go on in a haunted theatre, The Regency. 40 years previously, the star of Hamlet was murdered, and more are dying to keep a dark secret.
HAMMER THE TOFF and its predecessor SALUTE THE TOFF were two big screen adaptations of works by novelist John Creasey. The Toff was a typical private detective type character, with a manservant and aristocratic pretensions. These films were lost for many years, but recently Renown Pictures have unearthed prints of both, and subsequently HAMMER THE TOFF was shown last week on the Talking Pictures TV channel.
This is a workable little movie with plenty of achievements on what is obviously a tight budget - Nettlefold Studios could afford no other type. John Bentley, who also essayed the role of Paul Temple in a number of screen outings, is a fairly stolid but reliable hero type, on the track of a murderer who turns out to be masquerading as a Robin Hood style character.
It's a fairly convoluted story but one which rewards close viewing, because HAMMER THE TOFF is the kind of film which has a bit of everything. There are some tense set-pieces, some romantic shenanigans with the lovely Patricia Dainton, alongside police interaction. Roddy Hughes steals every scene as the put-upon manservant, Jolly. There's a supporting role for Valentine Dyall and even a bit part for Charles Hawtrey if you watch closely. Certainly this is no remarkable film, and it's not a masterpiece either, but as B-movies go there are plenty worse out there, and it held my attention throughout.
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