DOC’S JOURNEY INTO HAMMER FILMS #13: TERROR STREET [1953]

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Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,

Hammer-films

 

UK

AKA 36 HOURS

AVAILABLE ON DVD

RUNNING TIME: 84 min

REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

Terror Street1

American pilot Bill Rogers takes an unauthorized hop to England for 36 hours to pay a surprise visit to his Norwegian wife Katherine, and finds that she’s moved out of their flat into a plush West End apartment and seems to be living a new and glamorous lifestyle, albeit one that involves hanging out with the wrong crowd. After being knocked unconscious by an unseen assailant in her upscale West End apartment, he awakens to find his wife shot to death with his service pistol by a man looking for a key to a deposit box.….

Terror_Street_VCI_02408_ff

Highly reminiscent of many American film noirs like The Blue Dahlia and The Limping Man, and nothing to do with the 1964 36 Hours despite its original title being the same, Terror Street barely has an original bone in its body, but it’s a solid watch as long as you don’t expect too much. Director Montgomery Tully doesn’t try very hard to bring much pace and tension to the story, but Walter J. Harvey’s noir cinematography compares well to that of some of the more celebrated American films of this type, making good use of archetypal devices like shadows forming a symbolic web on a wall and expert use of blacks. Dan Duryea, popular in American noirs, is good throughout but is especially strong in the early scenes when he’s dazed and trying to work out what’s happened to his wife, while an early flashback sequence comprised largely of stills works very well because of good matching of shots. Once Katherine is shot – a well staged moment with good employment of a mirror – there isn’t enough urgency considering our hero has little time to find the killer and the cops are on his trail, but the story maintains the viewer’s interest and there are some decent fights in the final third, one of them set in a room with a Psycho-esque swinging lamp, while the occasional touch of local colour just about reminds you that you’re not watching an American noir.

This is one of those films that requires some of the characters to act stupid, but the performances help considerably. John Chandos is as slimy a villain as one could wish for, Gudrun Ere makes almost believable the role of the woman who quickly believes our hero and before you know it is forging his wife’s signature for him, and Elsie Albin, though dead for much of the film, is quite resonant in her interestingly enigmatic role, both poor innocent girl and femme fatale. The character’s presence is always felt even when flashbacks aren’t occurring on-screen with Ivor Slaney’s fine dramatic score sometimes helping to add the required element of wounded, lost romanticism. Terror Street never gets quite as good as it seems like it’s going to, but is generally absorbing and fairly well crafted at times.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

About Dr Lenera 3098 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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