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Jim Ackland, who suffers from a head injury sustained in a bus crash, is the chief suspect in a murder hunt, when a girl that he has just met is found dead on the local common, and he has no alibi for the time she was killed.Written by
Mike Wilson <Mike.Wilson6@btinternet.com>
One of the best pieces of acting I've seen John Mills do is in this film The October Man. It takes part of its plot from Laura and part of it from the American film High Wall that starred Robert Taylor.
Mills as he did on so many occasions was the British average Joe who as it happens suffers a traumatic brain injury as a result of a train wreck. He blacks out and comes back with no apparent rhyme or reason and his treating doctor Felix Aylmer says that's likely to go on for some time. No reason though he can't resume normal life and employment.
Which he does and starts living at a boarding house with the usual amount of busybodies. He even gets a relationship of sorts going with both Joan Greenwood and Kay Walsh. But when Walsh turns up murdered, Mills is looking real good for it to Scotland Yard guys Frederick Piper and John Boxer.
Of course Mills didn't do it, but the fascinating thing with The October Man is that we do learn before the end who did do it and that individual confesses to Mills. The perpetrator is also a mentally unstable, but has learned to hide it. And it looks very much as if Mills will not be able to prove his innocence.
The focus of The October Man is on Mills's plight. It's one of the best pieces of acting I've ever seen from John Mills. He does you really do think he's about to get into a jackpot not of his own doing.
The October Man was very much influenced by Hollywood noir, although I'm sure our friends across the pond could say our noir films were influenced by this. It's a very moody cinematographic piece with expert use of shadow and lights. And John Mills is heartbreaking in the role.
Don't miss this if it is ever broadcast again on this side of the Atlantic.
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