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>
Howard arrives back in London on a BOAC Avro Lancastrian (a converted Lancaster bomber) from Sydney via Darwin, Jakarta,Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo and Rome. In the Lake District, the tea room Howard and Simmons call at, the Aira Force Tea Room on Ullswater, is still there. The helicopter chasing Howard and Simmons in the Lake District is a Sikorski R-4, known as the Hoverfly when flown by the RAF and Royal Navy. In Liverpool there are some shots of the Anglican cathedral, started in 1904 but not completed until 1978. There is a decent shot of the long defunct Liverpool Overhead Railway, and in the docks, a Mersey Docks & Harbour Board saddle tank shunting engine. See more »
If it weren't for good old Trevor Howard, this film would not be nearly so interesting. He is always enjoyable to watch, as he is always convincing and we want to see what he will get up to. Here he is thrown out of MI-6, the foreign secret service, rather unceremoniously after years of brilliant service in the field, and has to find some work. He ends up taking a temporary job cataloguing butterflies, of which the Clouded Yellow is a particularly pretty one which comes across the English Channel in a good summer and flutters around as delightfully as Jean Simmons. And yes, she is living in the rambling country house where the butterfly collection is. She is the psychologically disturbed and mysteriously orphaned niece of a rather creepy aunt and uncle. Or at least they say, rather too often, that Jean is psychologically disturbed. But is she really? Did she witness as a very young child what really happened to her parents? They say she 'found them'. But did she see who killed them? Clearly there is some vintage mystery material here. Jean Simmons at this stage in her career had very bushy eyebrows and looked more like a trapped wild animal than a girl. Alas, she did not have the magically convincing wildness of Jennifer Jones in GONE TO EARTH (1950, see my review), or this film could have become something of a classic. The direction by Ralph Thomas is also rather uninspired and pedestrian. So this film never really rises to the level of a butterfly's flight. Come to that, the story is pretty contrived and corny. The film is a tasty amuse-bouche, but should never be confused with a main course.
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