Monday, July 04, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Appointment With Crime (1946) - An Olive Films DVD Review

APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME (1946) is a tough British film noir just released on DVD and Blu-ray by Olive Films.

Leo Martin (William Hartnell of DR. WHO) is caught in a "smash and grab" jewel robbery which lands him in the hospital and then jail.

When he's finally released he wants a job from Gus (Raymond Lovell), the man who set up the robbery, but Leo is considered damaged goods and turned away. In retaliation, Leo frames Gus for the murder of his chauffeur (H. Victor Weske).

Soon an art dealer (Herbert Lom) and a dance hall girl (Joyce Howard) are mixed up in the case as well, but Det. Insp. Rogers (Robert Beatty) is on the job.

Rogers, incidentally, is visiting Scotland Yard from Canada, which explains the Canadian-born Beatty's lack of a British accent.

Unfortunately Hartnell is not a compelling actor; he barks most of his lines in a monotone. The film is carried along by the story itself, which becomes more interesting once it becomes a police procedural a third of the way into the movie. I found the first part of the film fairly dull but once Det. Rogers entered the picture I found myself much more engrossed, and overall I enjoyed the film.

There's a key bit about the purchase of some orangeade drinks I found especially fun. An assassin being an unassuming little man named Mr. Crackle (Ivor Barnard) was also interesting -- shades of Edmund Gwenn in FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940)! Lom also adds entertainment value in a showy role.

The strong visual presentation style is a definite plus, with excellent black and white filming by Gerald Moss and James Wilson, full of shadows and Dutch angles. It's a striking film.

APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME was written and directed by John Harlow. It runs 92 minutes.

The Olive Films DVD print is a bit soft at times but on the whole is quite good, without lines or skips. The sound quality was also fine. There are no extras.

Finally, an important word about captioning for those who may rely on them.  After chancing to notice problems with the captioning on Olive's release of THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI (1947), I turned the English subtitles on for part of this movie, and unfortunately they're just as poor. A train whistle is captioned as "woman screaming," and when a detective asks "Where's he from, Jeff?" and the reply should be the name of a newspaper, "Evening Bulletin," it's printed as "Where's Efrum Jeff?" and the answer is "getting bulletin." In scenes shortly thereafter, the words "Harry," "alias," "Eustace," and "not at all" are all mistranscribed, and when the detective tells his driver "The Yard," as in Scotland Yard, it comes out as "they are." I could go on, but that gives an idea.

I appreciate the fact that captions are an extra expense and logistical issue; some of the problems inherent in providing captions were discussed by an Olive Films exec in an interview a few years ago. I also know from family experience how greatly the captions are appreciated, so it's wonderful that Olive now captions their films. However, it seems pointless to include them if the captions aren't going to be given the most cursory once-over, as they really haven't been usable on the two DVDs I've checked. Hopefully this is an area for improvement which will be addressed in the future.

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger Jerry E said...

This is a film I've never seen and when I saw that Olive Films had put it out it went on my 'to get' list.
Pity you were underwhelmed by William Hartnell in this film, Laura, as in other films he could often be the best reason for watching. The barking was not his usual style particularly - in later life he had the distinction of being the original Doctor Who (in 1963).

11:26 PM  
Blogger john knight said...

Hi Laura,

Sometimes we agree,sometimes we don't. :)
As a huge Hartnell fan,I must say that I thought he was sensational
in this film.
I also loved the supremely creepy Ivor Barnard as a jobbing printer
who supplies an attractive range of "extra services" for his underworld
clients. Mr Barnard is also very business-like as he always insists on
"cash with order"

Oddly enough Robert Beatty starred in an excellent UK crime series
DIAL 999 (1958/9) where he played Mike Maguire a Canadian Mountie
working with Scotland Yard. Produced by the legendary Harry Allan
Towers the series was notable for it's striking (for the era)
location work.
The pilot episode "The Killing Job" (very well directed by Canadian
Alvin Rakoff)featured Mr Hartnell up to his old tricks again.
Furthermore Mr Beatty also guest starred in four episodes of the
Hartnell era Doctor Who.

Lovers of supremely trashy movies will be interested to know that
Blue Underground have released three sets of Harry Allan Towers
double bills on Blu Ray. These Blu Ray's are region free and have
stunning picture quality-as well as featuring many much loved
stars "slumming it"

3:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John and Jerry! I thought of you both when watching this one! I enjoyed your take on it, John, and I hope you'll enjoy it, Jerry! Do let me know what you think.

John, I thought the printer was one of the most creative aspects of the film, quite fun. Also enjoyed the info on Robert Beatty and how he crossed paths with Hartnell again. DIAL 999 sounds like something I would enjoy.

Best wishes,

4:35 PM  
Blogger mel said...

The captions problem that you described is a serious one and shows up Olive Films to be very unprofessional in that area.

Unfortunately, nothing will be done to improve matters unless purchasers write to them to complain. Perhaps then there'll be a chance that they'll do something about it.

10:54 PM  

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