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

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Greta Gynt and George Curzon

SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR (aka The Hooded Terror/1938). Director: George King.

"Bombs going off. Men falling dead. What kind of place is this? A gentleman's house or a chamber of horrors?' -- Mrs. Bardell

While almost completely unknown in the United States, private eye Sexton Blake, who began life as a Sherlock Holmes clone (who even had an office on Baker Street and a Mrs. Hudson-type housekeeper) before metamorphosing into different types of action heroes over the decades, was once very big stuff in England. In this film our hero (George Curzon) is up against a secret group known as the Black Quorum, which is led by a man known as the Snake. The members of the Quorum wear masks at their meetings, but take them off to look at closed-circuit television, making one wonder why they bother with the masks in the first place. Greta Gynt plays a special agent named Julie, whom Blake is always condescending to because she's a woman, but who saves his bacon on at least one occasion. [Brave Julie is the most "modern" thing about the movie.] Blake has an assistant named Tinker (Tony Sympson) and a housekeeper named Mrs. Bardell (Marie Wright). Tod Slaughter plays a deceptively jovial figure named Michael Larron. The most interesting scene features a death chamber full of slithering snakes. This isn't terrible, just not very memorable. Curzon, Gynt and the others are fine, with Gynt especially vivacious, adept and notable.

Verdict: Stick with Sherlock Holmes. **.

No comments: