Yes, George King. That guy you never heard of. Him!
And no, me neither. But he had a short, intense career as director that took in Tod Slaughter horrors and Edgar Wallace shockers and modest little thrillers of all kinds. A number of them have been made available on no-frills but quite adequate DVDs from Odeon Entertainment’s Best of British label. What you basically get are nice little films of the kind that should be filling afternoon TV schedules but no longer do. Well worth renting if you feel like something undemanding, perhaps with a few familiar faces.
And once in a while, George lets rip with some actual CINEMA. THE CASE OF THE FRIGHTENED LADY, from Edgar Wallace’s play, is a predictable and hokey mystery with some amusingly colourful retro dialogue (the detective inspector and his idiot sidekick played by King regular Ronald Shiner are very much in the INSPECTOR HORNLEIGH cross-talk comedy vein). It’s kept on its feet by somebody’s smart decision to cut all the scenes into pieces and intercut them like mad, which boosts the pace beyond what you’d expect in a British cheapie of this kind.
And then the flick suddenly gets all atmospheric in a near-giallo way. Now, this is the climax I’m showing you, but in a way I’m doing you a favour because it saves you watching the rest. Trust me, you’d guess whodunnit anyway. (Nevertheless, I sort of recommend the film as mild fun. Rent it if you’re in the UK and you like old British warhorses.)
The killer has used, as an alibi, the sound of his piano practice from a distant room, but it’s actually a record he’s playing while he’s off doing nefarious things with thuggee scarves (the movie was known stateside as THE SCARF MURDER MYSTERY, which is an even blander title that the one it started life with). So we get a beautiful, contrapuntal score to this sinister scene, plus the elegant shadow-play…
And that’s Marius Goring popping up at the end with a look of madness in his eyes.
“I lost my head.”