Thursday, August 30, 2012
MAN BAIT (aka The Last Page/1952). Director: Terence Fisher.
The British film The Last Page was given the zestier title Man Bait -- with the figure of Diana Dors highlighted in the ads -- when it was released in the U.S. John Harman (George Brent, in one of his last theatrical films) runs a book store in London and cares for his invalid wife (Isabel Dean). He has a loyal assistant named Stella (Marguerite Chapman) and a sexy clerk, Ruby (Diana Dors), who is saucy and always coming in late. A minor incident between the two -- Ruby impulsively kisses John when they're working late in his office -- snowballs into tragedy when Ruby's new friend, the sinister Jeffrey (Peter Reynolds), importunes Ruby to make more of the business and even blackmail her boss. Before long, John is being accused of murder. It seems bizarre that John was planning to take his wife on a holiday, when she proves to be so fatally frail later in the movie. Man Bait holds the attention, but is distinctly minor, although Dors is quite good, as is Reynolds, and Brent and Chapman are more than competent. Eleanor Summerfield also makes an impression as Vi, a woman who is crazy about Jeffrey and jealous of Ruby. This was a Hammer film released and distributed by Lippert in the United States.
Verdict: Competent, if unexciting little programmer. **1/2.