By GRACE CONWAY 7_ C catholic Herald, Film criticninnailitinminil THIS may not be a cloak-and dagger age but it is certainly the age of the hypodermic and the snatched body. Bodies are being snatched in at least two of this week's pictures locations Venice a n d Berlin. Nations involved— Britain and the U.S.A. versus You KnFoiwrstWthheor'e is this Graham Greene thriller which, to everyone's surprise, did not get the benefit of a West End debut, but after spending a brief week in the lottenham Court Road goes straight out on release and will be seen next week at the Gaumont houses in North and West Lonclou suburbs.
Graham Greene wrote "The Stranger's Hand" at the request of the distinguished Italian director Mario Soldati, who knows his way about the Italian scene, was able to cast his players (with the exception of the principals) on the spot, and, what is more, had no hesitation in bringing "dictator" powers to bear on the Venetian crowds and traffic when he thought it would help his story.
Much of the filming took place on the lagoon which forms the Venice harbour. Instead of the cliche-ridden shots that mark so many films about Venicewhat have now come to be known as "Cook's Tours"—there is the feeling all the time that this really is a city built on "floats," that you can't get away from the water, that ordinary folk use the crowded water buses for transport, and that there are water slums as well as hotel terraces, ees. T story concerns the search of a small boy (an effective performance by the then 9-year-old Roger Court) for his father (Trevor Howard) whom he has not seen for three years but who has promised to meet him at the airport. The father—British Intelligence—gets "snatched," is given the hypodermic treatment and shipped aboard a "foreign" vessel en route for death or worse.
The action is concerned chiefly with the search for the missing man in which the British Consul (Stephen Murray) becomes inevitably. though looking rather bored by it all, involved, Also tangled up in the wires are Alida Valli, a fugitive from the "foreign" power, and her American boy friend (Richard Baseheart).
No 'Third Man" this, nor yet a "Fallen Idol," although there are touches reminiscent in treatment of both, especially in the adult world as seen from the child's angle. I enjoyed it—and recommend pursuit of it as it travels about the suburbs and provinces. Once films leave the West End their arrival in suburb or province must be taken at the flood—otherwise they disappear for ever.
STORMS WEPT On release : Certificate U Producer : Ivan Barnett
HERE is another film that slipped 1 into the West End last week too late to be included in this column but which should, for a seafaring nation like us, have a big and enthusiastic reception.
Lasting just about an hour, and made in ordinary two-dimensional black and white, it describes in documentary form how the lighthouses and light-vessels off the Cornish coast are serviced and maintained. Thrilling shots of the Atlantic pounding against the Wolf and Bishop Rocks; the breath-taking swing on the rope from lighthouse to the Trinity House vessel that brings the relief, and finally a sick man being taken from the lightship in a pretty fierce sea— all this is something to see and be proud of. Look out for this.
NIGHT PEOPLE Odeon, Marble Arch, July B Certificate A Director : Nunnaly Johnson r:REGORY PECK, magnificent in CinemaScope—and I mean that —has another of those tight-lipped, tensed-up roles in which he is helping to keep the world safe for us all.
The scene is Berlin (also looking magnificent in the new medium), and the body snatched is that of a young G.I. The idea is to swap him with the Americans for a couple of Germans wanted on the other side of the curtain.
The tussle shown is not so much between the two sides of the curtain as that between Gregory Peck, as the hard-pressed colonel, and the G.I.'s father. who is a man of great wealth and power back home. He comes over post-haste ready to trade his dollars for the boy's return and, when that fails, human beings.
Broderick Crawford as the father puts up a memorable performance of an inflated man becoming a deflated one—or better. a miserable worm being shrivelled up on the hot shovel of the colonel's scorn.
On the feminine side are Anita Bjork as arm attractive go-between, and Rita Gam as a slim and aloof girl secretary. Bringing a spot of much-needed light relief is Buddy Ebsen, and John Horsley makes everything possible out of his brief appearance as a British officer.