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Missing, Believed Lost - The Star Reporter

From Missing, Believed Lost, BFI Publishing, 1992

Another crime drama from a Philip MacDonald story, in which a newspaper journalist (Harold French) works as a chauffeur to an attractive blonde society woman (Isla Bevan, in her screen debut) in order to provide himself with material for a feature article. He witnesses an elaborate smash-and-grab raid in Bond Street in which a world-famous diamond owned by the woman's father is stolen. Hefollows the thieves to their den and recovers the jewel after a roof-top struggle which ends with the villain plunging to his death

Powell hired a hand-held camera for £8 and personally shot footage of the Queen Mary docking at Southampton to cut into the scene of the girl's father returning from America, which made the film look rather more lavishly budgeted that it actually was.

The Star Reporter received some exceptionally good reviews. From Today's Cinema: 'Exciting adaptation of story by Philip MacDonald dealing with robbery, blackmail and murder. Charming romantic element links breathless sequence of thrilling incident. Cleverly directed on the lines of swift action, snappy dialogue and varied settings. General "thick-ear" atmosphere with admirably staged smash-and-grab raid, cold-blooded murder, sinister plotting and startling fire-escape finale developed with strongly emphasised suspense values.'

More significantly, the film critic of the London Evening News, A. Jympson Harman, declared: 'At the end of a long and not very inspiring day of seeing new films, I saw a little picture Star Reporter which jolted my tired brain into renewed enthusiasm. Star Reporter packs into three-quarters of an hour as much story as most films that last an hour and a half, cost £30,000 and take six weeks to make. It is absolutely without trimmings and tells an exciting crook story with a smoothness of direction and a crispness of acting and cutting which would be a credit to the the most ambitious picture.'

Michael Powell later recalled: 'Star Reporter ... was fun and I was not ashamed of it. Harold French was a real pro. He understood comedy timing and I learned from him every day. Star Reporter played as the bottom half of the bill with Frank Capra's Platinum Blonde. I felt really complimented when one of the critics wrote that Star Reporter scarcely had the polish of Platinum Blonde. My film cost £3,700, the Columbia film cost $600,000.'

Leading man Harold French later became adirector himself - of Quiet Weekend (1946), My Brother Jonathan (1947) and many other features.

This film is "Missing, Believed Lost", please check all achives and attics.

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