Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


William Sylvester  and Paulette Goddard
THE UNHOLY FOUR (1954). Director: Terence Fisher.

"I don't like people very much -- not even the people I like."

Philip Vickers (William Sylvester), who has been missing for four years, shows up unexpectedly at a party being thrown by his wife, Angie (Paulette Goddard). Philip claims that years ago in Portugal a blow on his head from one of his alleged friends, possibly working at his wife's request, gave him amnesia, and now he is back to discover who it was who tried to kill him: Harry (David King-Wood), Job (Patrick Holt), or Bill (Paul Carpenter)? Also in the household is Angie's friend Jennie (Kay Callard), who feels Philip is up to no good and possibly out to harm his wife. When one of the aforementioned suspects is murdered, Inspector Treherne (Russell Napier) is called in, and soon everyone is sniping at everyone else and accusing each other of assorted malfeasances. While Terence Fischer's direction is solid, the talky screenplay is the problem with this half-baked melodrama, in which the characters, none of whom are likable or even that interesting, are one-dimensional, and the plot confusing. This was Goddard's last movie but one -- she also did several TV assignments in her later years --   and even at 44 she looks a bit haggard. Her performance is okay although, like Fisher, she isn't given very much to work with. Cast against type as an arch, suave, borderline villain, Sylvester at least gets an A for effort. Russell Napier is the British version of Lloyd Nolan. The supporting cast is good, with particularly good work from Carpenter and Callard. Leonard Salzedo's score does a lot of the work to keep this even mildly interesting. Another Hammer studio mystery released in the US by Lippert.

Verdict: One you can easily miss. **.

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