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Submitted by Mark Fuller
The Brown Wallet
Kinematograph Weekly: 27th February 1936
First National, British (A). Directed by Michael Powell.
Featuring Patric Knowles and Nancy O'Neil. 6,086 feet.
Released July 20, 1936.
A human but not altogether satisfactory story of a penniless publisher who escapes the consequences of a money theft by becoming involved in a murder charge respecting his aunt. Minor characterisations and good acting generally improve the assets of a moderate dramatic quota attraction.
Story:- John Gillespie, penniless book publisher, fails to obtain money from his unsympathetic, wealthy aunt. On the way home he finds £2,000 cash in a taxi and transfers it to a room which he tells his wife he has hired for business purposes. Meanwhile his aunt has died under suspicion of being poisoned.
John, asked by the police to make a statement, is unable on account of his theft to give satisfactory answers. at the inquest he is in danger of becoming charged with murder, when discoveries by his former house servant, an ex-soldier, lead to the crime being traced to Miss Gillespie's butler and companion. By his aunt's legacy John is enabled to return the stolen cash to its owner.
Acting:- Patric Knowles has a likeable personality, though his performance as the young Oxford man under shadow of debt and suspicion is wanting in light and shade. Nancy O'Neil wins sypathy as the trusting wife, while honours go rather to charlotte Leigh as a companion, Louis Goodrich as a coroner, and Henry Caine as the cockney Simmonds, for their minor interpretations.
Production:- Michael Powell dwells too long on the opening sequences, and in spite of good detail and neatly handled situations one cannot get over the impression that the hero does not behave altogether intelligently. Plot complications add to the interest about half-way, and work up to a more or less dramatic inquest, culminating in the discovery of the least likely person as the murderer. Dialogue flows rather too freely, but there are some good wisecracks.
Settings and Photography:- The former are rather un-English and include a country house, Chelsea home, and Bayswater studio. Lighting clear.
Points of Appeal:- Stacy Aumonier's crime story, embellished by good acting, especially where thumbnail interpretations are concerned.
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