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Episode 10, "Passage at Arms" introduced Eric Pohlmann (previously seen in "The Second Mona Lisa") as Inspector Goron of the French Surete, who journeys to London to assist Colonel March in a murder case involving members of a French fencing team. Wealthy widow Mrs. Martha Pollard (Rachel Gurney) informs March about the heartless artist who left her on the brink of suicide, later turning up dead in an apparently successful suicide by sleeping pills. The competing fencing teams are questioned about a fictitious robbery, after her death is proved to be murder by smothering. Pohlmann's Goron is a droll delight (returning to the role three times), and the larger than usual cast makes for a multitude of suspects, including Laurence Payne, who went on to do 1958's "The Trollenberg Terror," 1959's "Ben-Hur," and Hammer's "Vampire Circus" in 1971, the last of his infrequent feature films. Another bit of minute trivia finds Gaylord Cavallaro, a very obscure actor, going to Hollywood and appearing in an episode of Boris Karloff's THRILLER, "Guillotine." Inspector Goron next appeared in the following episode, "The Headless Hat."
PASSAGE AT ARMS is the last in the series of the Colonel March stories
and it's an easy watch, with Karloff and Roberts slipping into their
roles like an old glove. It's a pity that they didn't make more of
these stories because they managed to overcome budgetary constraints
and were more often than not watchable mystery stories indicative of
This tale is centred around the sport of fencing with a couple of competitors implicated when an apparent suicide turns out to have been murder. Although the story is set in the UK, Eric Pohlmann's French inspector, Goron, turns up to make some of his usual wry comments. Karloff even lifts the sabre himself at one point. There's little of the weird stuff here that made the best episodes of the show ones to watch, but it's a well-paced little thing nonetheless.
On the title page of each episode in this series there appears an icon representing the episode - in this case it's crossed fencing swords. Mrs. Pollard, a wealthy widow, tells March of her brief fling with a young Frenchman. She was much in love with him but after a few weeks, the cad dumps her, taking all of her expensive jewelry with him. She learned that he is a member of the French fencing team and is now in London to compete in a tournament. The best part of this episode is when March treats Mrs. Pollard in such an avuncular and compassionate manner. Very well done indeed. Sadly, Mrs. Pollard is later found dead and Inspector Goron of the Surete comes to London to assist in the investigation. Eric Pohlmann as Goron has some good scenes exhibiting a dry sense of humor. We learn that March is a fencing expert, an expertise that allows him to find the culprit. Another entertaining episode but the last half was a little draggy.
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