Lady Killers (1980–1981)
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A Boy's Best Friend 

The story of Sidney Harry Fox, accused of murdering his mother in 1929.




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Presenter
Tim Brierley ...
Sidney Harry Fox
Rosaline Fox
John Tordoff ...
Mr. Fairfax
David Millett ...
Mr Davies
Richard Mathews ...
Justice Rowlatt
Derek Hockridge ...
Clerk of Court
Anna Lindup ...
Louise Bickmore
Robert Grange ...
Samuel Hopkins
Brigadier Cecil Winbolt
Mr Armstrong
Steve Gardner ...
Mr Eaves
Marina McConnell ...
Gwendoline Bugg


The story of Sidney Harry Fox, accused of murdering his mother in 1929.

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Crime | Drama



Release Date:

21 August 1981 (UK)  »

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In the aftermath of a hotel fire.
14 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There is something about names - something ill-fated sometimes. In the history of early talking pictures in Hollywood there was a young actress named Sidney Fox. She made plenty of films in the early to middle 1930s, but left no lasting impression. One of her films CALL IT MURDER, is marketed (when sold) as a Humphrey Bogart film, as he played a supporting part in the film. Fox was the heroine of this rip off version of A FREE SOUL (she is suspected of killing a gangster, like Norma Shearer in the MGM film). Not that it matters - if not for the appearance of Bogart the film would not be worth watching today. In the 1940s, her career long over, poor Sidney Fox committed suicide.

Another name is "Metropole". It has a historic resonance in the U.S. and the U.K., as the sites of two famous murder cases. The New York City Hotel Metropole was the site of the 1912 gangland murder of Herman "Beansie" Rosenthal apparently at the orders of the corrupt New York City Police Lieutenant Charles Becker. The Margate, England Hotel Metropole was the site of a mysterious fire that led to the arrest, trial, and conviction of a young man for the murder of his mother. The woman who died was Rosalind Fox. Her son's name was Sidney Fox.

Sidney and Rosalind Fox were swindlers with pretensions. Fox believed he was not lowly born, but had a gentleman, even a noble father. His mother allowed him to believe this. Together they went about checking into fancy hotels, running up expensive tabs, and then running off before the management could get paid. I didn't say they were original or clever swindlers - they were both fairly commonplace. Fox did make an attempt to copy the manners of the upper class. One police report said that at best he looked "plausible", but nothing else. He did try to get into "good social circles", by attracting elderly men (Fox was gay) with social position and income. As a result at least one military man was ruined by the association.

Frankly Fox was getting tired of the lifestyle he and his mother followed. It had little going for it - usually Fox ended in jail and his mother in the local almshouse. Then, Fox began taking an interest in insurance. He romanced (despite his preference) a middle aged woman of some property. Fox took out a policy on her life, and one night the woman awoke to smell gas in her bedroom. Subsequently she decided (probably wisely) to drop further contact with the Foxes.

In 1930 the Foxes went to the Margate Metropole Hotel, following their usual procedure (if anyone asked where their luggage was, it was "coming"). Rosalind Fox did not know that Sidney had taken out some policies on her life. They were scheduled to be running out of existence in a matter of days. Then, after the Foxes took their room in the hotel, that night a fire broke out. The fire disturbed the other guests and the management. But what astounded the management was that the fire was in the Foxes room, and Mrs. Fox was dead - but Sidney was alive and breathing, and bemoaning the death of his mother.

He was arrested later while trying to cash the policies he had on Rosalind. The trial was of interest to criminal historians, with Sir Bernard Spilsbury discussing the evidence showing how the fire was set with an accelerant and some old newspapers, and how the deceased was apparently strangled first (her hyoid bone was broken - a dead giveaway regarding strangulation) rather than by smoke inhalation as Sidney claimed. Sidney's cross examination was not the success he thought it would be - he explained that he shut the door of the hotel room after he left his mother behind because he did not want the smoke to spread in the hotel hallway!

Sidney Fox was convicted of murdering his mother, and subsequently hanged.

Again like the other episodes in the series I never saw this episode - so I cannot rate it. However, I notice that Phyllis Calvert played Rosalind. That certainly suggests that the production was probably interesting. As Rosalind was dead at the time of the trial, I take it that Calvert's part was a series of reconstructions of the events leading to her murder.

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