When Secret Service agent David Somers is fired, he takes a quiet job with the Fentons at their country estate - cataloging butterflies, hence the title insect. David grows fond of Jess Fenton's niece, a fragile, fey young woman named Sophie. Because he hates traps of any kind, he reacts quickly when Sophie is framed for the murder of Hick, the nasty handyman. He helps her escape London by using his agent's skills and a network of old friends. The pair lead the police and David's ex-employers an exciting chase, from Newcastle to the Lake District to Liverpool. As the fugitives try to catch a ship for France, everyone, including the murderer, join in the finale.Written by
Mike Rogers <MICHAELPEM.@aol.com>
The film should begin with a scene set very late at night at London Airport, with an extremely disheveled Trevor Howard arriving without luggage from somewhere in Eastern Europe. The implication is clearly that he is a British spy who has only just managed to escape from an ugly fate and get home. Several television showings of the film in the 1990s elided this scene, which was feared lost; however, it has been restored for a DVD version. See more »
A Newcastle trolley bus heading over the Tyne Bridge is suddenly some distance away on the Town Moor. See more »
Solid intelligent British thriller, one of the best of its type.
This is a film that has a lot going for it:
--a typically excellent, nuanced and three-dimensional performance from Trevor Howard as a forced-into retirement espionage agent encountering a surprising new adventure back home while at times revisiting aspects of his own past.
--Jean Simmons in her radiant younger days in a role of mystery, range and substance.
--a highly intelligent script that expects viewers to think and rewards their patience.
--stylishly and confidently directed, and photographed with great distinction by the later-legendary Geoffrey Unsworth.
--excellent use of locations, well-paced, filled with surprises.
Those who are comparing it to British Hitchcock are partially right, but it also has the erudite touch of a Sir Carol Reed about it. It's visually quite satisfying, naturalistically shot for the most part, but with well-thought-out process shots when necessary. This story eventually covers a lot of ground, and each new location and situation is shot with a real eye for the distinctive look or texture of where they are next. While the visual choices are rarely "flashy," there is a real sense of location and imagery. Outdoors and nature compete with urban or more claustrophobic settings, and all the myriad parts add up to a polished and satisfying whole. It starts a little slowly, but once the wheels begin to turn, it gradually takes you on quite a journey, narratively, emotionally and geographically. I found myself very invested in the main characters.
Another plus is the excellent score by Benjamin Frankel -- it hits its full marks not only in the dramatic or suspenseful passages, but also in some unusual and subtle piano music played by Simmons' character.
No complaints about this movie! It's a gem.
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