Thursday, April 25, 2024


A lighthearted little comedy … not:

A hangman conceals his true identity when he falls in love, and sets up home with his girl on a barge in the river Thames. Tragedy strikes when the hangman's assistant tries to seduce his boss's wife - after a fight, the hangman is presumed drowned. The woman commits suicide, but the hangman has in fact survived, and manages to save his assistant from the gallows.


I reckon this has to be the best outing for Ann Todd ("Frankie") that I've seen. Here she plays the girlfriend of Eric Portman ("Eddie") who is really a hangman, but who doesn't want her to know so pretends to be a salesman to explain his frequent, and often overnight, absences from their home on a barge he has inherited. It's during one of those absences that she finds herself the focus of the unwarranted attentions of the rather uncouth "Olaf" (Maxwell Reed) and... Compton Bennett has created a clever piece of cinema here; we are given much of the bones of the story but have to come to a few of our own conclusions as tragedy ensues. According to the BBFC, the film wasn't cut at the time but it doesn't look like it - there are gaps that sort of make sense, but there are quite a few that clearly don't and that disjoints the narrative and occasionally spoils what is otherwise a complex tale. Well worth a gander.

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