Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Diamond Wizard (1954)

While on our vacation last week I enjoyed streaming a movie each night on my Kindle Fire; I used three different services, as they all offer unique and interesting titles. I'll be reviewing the films over the coming days, along with sharing photos from our trip!

First up was THE DIAMOND WIZARD (1954), known in the UK simply as THE DIAMOND, which I watched via Amazon Prime.

THE DIAMOND WIZARD stars Dennis O'Keefe as a U.S. Treasury agent in London, where he works with Scotland Yard to break up a counterfeit diamond ring. The movie was a rare directing credit for O'Keefe, who also helped create the story; Montgomery Tully also worked on directing the film.

I found THE DIAMOND WIZARD to be good company; I particularly enjoyed the relationship between O'Keefe's Joe Dennison and his Scotland Yard counterpart, Inspector "Mac" MacLaren (Philip Friend, BUCCANEER'S GIRL and THUNDER ON THE HILL).

Joe and Mac are friendly rivals for Joe's old flame, lovely Marline (Margaret Sheridan, I, THE JURY and ONE MINUTE TO ZERO). In one of those "only in the movies" amazing coincidences, Marline's father has disappeared and may have something to do with the nefarious goings-on.

Mac eventually realizes that his efficient assistant, Sgt. Smith (Ann Gudrin of TERROR STREET), might be worth a second look, so it seems that everyone will be nicely paired off after the end credits roll.

The movie has plenty of great British atmosphere, with double-decker busses rolling past in the background while the characters walk down the streets of London. There's an absolutely fantastic chase scene involving one of the London Underground's grand old wooden escalators, sure to warm the heart of anyone who loves the Tube. Just watching that scene made me long to return to one of my very favorite places.

You may have seen it all a million times before, but the congenial cast, the crime story with dashes of humor and romance, and the London setting all made this film a winner for me, quite a pleasant way to spent 83 minutes. In recent months I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing a number of early '50s films made in Britain with American lead actors, and this was another fun title.

THE DIAMOND WIZARD is a black and white film, originally shot in 3D by Arthur Graham. The supporting cast includes Alan Wheatley, Paul Hardtmuth, Francis De Wolff, Eric Berry, and Cyril Chamberlain.

2022 Update: Amazing news: Kino Lorber will release THE DIAMOND WIZARD on Blu-ray in November 2022. It's a deluxe set which includes a 3D version and extras including a commentary track. My review of the Kino Lorber Blu-ray is here.


Blogger john k said...

Hi Laura,

Welcome back.
I too really like Dennis O Keefe and thought that he and
John Payne made a great team in the Westerns EAGLE
A old pal of mine met O Keefe in London in the Fifties and
said that he was warm and friendly and most willing to
talk.He mentioned how well that he and Payne got along.
Phillip Friend's career started in America but his star
faded when he returned to England.
I really enjoyed him in THE HIGHWAYMAN one of his very
best Hollywood roles. His son Martyn,I believe is a top
UK TV director..NEW TRICKS and the like.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

Gosh, it's years since I saw this one. In fact, I remember nothing about it. I feel inspired to seek it out following your nice review, Laura.

John K has just come up with something I was unaware of - that Martyn Friend is Philip Friend's son!
Small world! My late uncle was a friend and neighbour of Philip Friend when they both lived in the small Surrey village of Chiddingfold from the 1960s to 80s. Evidently, a very nice man.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John and Jerry! And thanks very much indeed for the welcome back. :)

John, I'm looking forward to catching EAGLE AND THE HAWK and PASSAGE WEST at some point. A Payne-O'Keefe teaming sounds terrific to me!

Wonderful to hear those positive anecdotes from both of you about O'Keefe and Friend. It's always nice when one hears that actors one admires were nice guys off the screen.

Best wishes,

7:37 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

I'm reading in reverse order so I'll comment here that all these movies you streamed on vacay look really interesting! Great picks, just based on the leads, all of whom I like too. I can't wait to seek these out myself. Thanks!

4:45 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks Kristina! I think there's a good chance you'd enjoy them all too. :) Good casts, entertaining movies!

Best wishes,

11:17 PM  

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