April 30th, 2014

Alastair Attentive

Dangerous Like an Unripe Pepper



I thought I was in for a treat ten minutes into the gorgeously shot 1946 murder mystery Green for Danger. Rich, shadowy cinematography with an interesting and attractive list of suspects among the doctor and nurse staff of a war time hospital--all this and Alastair Sim, too, as Inspector Cockrill, there to solve the two murders. Unfortunately, the film has a rather disappointing ending.

I don't feel a mystery film necessarily needs a surprise ending or a series of clues leading up to the reveal, at the end, of the killer's identity. But if a movie or novel does intend to hinge so much on that discovery at the end, then it should be treated as a proper puzzle, giving the viewer all the clues necessary to solve it themselves if they're able. Arbitrarily picking a killer from the group not only denies the viewer the fun of this game it also, as in this case, tends to lead to awkward, plot forced characterisation. I won't spoil it for you.



I was hoping this would be the film that gave me Alastair Sim in a role closer to the one he played in Stage Fright but, sadly, he's shown to be a broad comedy buffoon, comically ducking from imagined air raids and making one big mistake at the end, one which allows the smug surgeon Eden (Leo Genn) to feel even more smug.



Eden has a tendency to say things like, "Most women ______" and it feels like the movie respects his opinion. When nurse Freddi (Sally Gray) confides to Eden that the end of her engagement to Dr. Barnes (Trevor Howard) is probably her fault, Eden remarks, "When a woman says that it usually means she's convinced it isn't." When Inspector Cockrill remarks that a former lover of Eden's was "jealous and possessive," Eden says, "Most women are if you give them the slightest encouragement." I really wanted to see Cockrill humiliate this guy. Sadly, the closest we get is an amusing scene where Cockrill happily watches Eden and Barnes disgrace themselves in a fist fight.