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"Man in a Suitcase" The Whisper (1968)

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The Priest Who Never Was

Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
27 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ruthless African plantation owner 'Marcus Spencer' ( Patrick Allen ) refuses to pay the overtime money he promised his work force. His wife 'Penelope' ( Sheila Brennan ) is an out-and-out racist who thinks they will squander the money on drink. Acting as an unofficial spokesman for the natives is 'Father Ignatius Loyola' ( Colin Blakely ). Spencer becomes suspicious of the man and hires McGill to check his background. Obtaining a Bible containing one of the father's thumb prints, Mac learns that he is in fact one Alfred Porter, a mercenary wanted all over the world for fraud and murder. He is also officially registered as dead. So what is he doing in Africa, alive and well, and masquerading as a Jesuit priest?

Colin Blakely had earlier appeared in this series as 'John' in 'Brainwash', also directed by Charles Crichton. Like star Richard Bradford, he was a Method actor, and got on so well with him he was brought back. He is excellent as the repentant ex-mercenary who has had a fit of conscience and decided to help the people he was once guilty of slaughtering. Patrick Allen's 'Marcus Spencer' ( now there's a joke name if ever I heard it! ) is the real villain of the piece. His refusal to honour an agreement with the natives is the catalyst for the story.

Written by Moris Farhi, also a writer on 'Strange Report', 'Out Of The Unknown', and 'Return Of The Saint'. 'The Whisper' is full of religious symbolism ( the plot parallels St.Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus ) such as the final shot of the little African boy watching Father Loyola take to the skies ( ascending to Heaven? ) in a helicopter. No actual location filming in Africa was done, nor was it for most of the I.T.C. shows of the time, but it does not matter. The story is strong enough to overcome this obstacle. Some nice touches of humour too, such as the Vatican representative jiving with Mac in a London discotheque!

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