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

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Ruth Dunning and Gwenda Wilson
DANGEROUS AFTERNOON (1961). Director: Charles Saunders.

Letty Frost (Ruth Dunning) runs the Primrose Lodge boarding house which is home to women who, like her, were once in trouble with the law. Letty was once a notorious jewel thief who escaped from prison some years before. She has a "niece," Freda (Joanna Dunham), who is about to marry her boyfriend, Jack (Howard Pays). Letty hopes that the couple will have a better life than she had and that they will never learn anything of her past, but all that is threatened by the release from prison of Jean Hinton, aka Jean Berry (Gwenda Wilson), who was left behind during the prison break and now wants revenge ... When Dangerous Afternoon first begins, showing us a little old lady shop lifter, Louisa (Nora Nicholson), you wonder if this will turn out to be a senior citizen version of The Belles of St. Trinian's, but despite a few amusing moments (mostly to do with Louisa's penchant for stealing) this picture is more grim than funny. If this had been made in America in say, the 30's, it might have been similar to The House on 56th Street with its theme of mother-sacrifice and men-who-lead-women-to-ruin. But this British film approaches the subject from a more oblique angle, and is quite unpredictable. Unfortunately, its very short running time (about an hour) minimizes the characters' development as well as their back stories. Still, this is well-acted by all.  Charles Saunders also directed Womaneater. Norman Percival's theme music is notable.

Verdict: Another unusual film that\s good enough that you wish it had been better. **1/2.

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