DOC’S JOURNEY INTO HAMMER FILMS #20: THE DEADLY GAME [1954]

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Directed by:
Written by: , ,
Starring: , , ,

Hammer-films

UK

AVAILABLE ON R1 DVD

RUNNING TIME: 70 min

REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

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While holidaying in Spain, American songwriter Phillip Graham by chance runs into old wartime RAF colleague Tony Roscoe, now a society photographer. Tony is urgently called back to England on business and is required to fly home, so Philip offers to drive Tony’s car back from Spain at the end of his holiday. Tony asks him to also pick up an envelope he has left in the hotel safe. After he’s kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity while driving Tony’s car and goes to the police, he’s informed that, since his discharge from the RAF, Tony has become embroiled in suspicious and probably criminal activities and has been under surveillance….

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Not at all a film noir, this is an espionage thriller in the Hitchcock fashion, where an ‘everyman’ becomes the prime suspect in a murder and is embroiled in intrigue, romance and danger, though actually Hitchcock would have probably made a great deal more of this and there certainly isn’t much excitement except for a rather good fight in a burning loft. A stolen medical formula, two enigmatic love interests – one Spanish and one English – for our hero whom we’re not sure about for quite a while, Finley Currie as a menacing Sidney Greenstreet-like character….the story possesses enough ingredients which ought to make up a decent ‘B’ thriller, but it just never catches fire. The climax, despite containing a clever escape attempt making use of a Spanish Mardi Gras-type festival, is virtually thrown away and badly mismatches studio footage and actual stuff shot in Spain. At least it’s always fun [though hard to take seriously!] to watch Lloyd Bridges and he’s a solid, sympathetic protagonist, while the rest of the main cast members mainly come up trumps, even if their characters don’t always make much sense. Sultry temptress Marina just disappears from the film!

Running at an hour and three minutes, there’s a reasonable pace to the whole thing, but it just seems to scratch the surface of its story, as if many of the important scenes weren’t shot because they ran out of time or money and had to put together and release what they had, despite one of the screenwriters being Daniel Birt, the author of the original novel on which this film is based [called Third Party Risk, the title of the British release of the movie]. Birt also directed but in a mostly dull fashion and Michael Krein’s light music score almost seems at odds with everything else. I’m probably being a bit too hard on this one – it did just about hold my attention and I see far worse movies every year [I’ve certainly one film at the cinema this year that makes Deadly Game seem like a masterpiece] – but it’s definitely a misfire and a waste of material which could have made for a really fun picture.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

Dr Lenera
About Dr Lenera 2061 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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