Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Talk Of The Devil

(1937, GB, 78m, b/w)
d Carol Reed p Jack Raymond sc Carol Reed, Anthony Kimmins ph Francis Carver ed Helen White, Merril G. White, John E. Morris ad Wilfred Arnold m Percival Mackey cast Ricardo Cortez, Sally Eilers, Basil Sydney, Randle Ayrton, Frederick Culley, Charles Carson, Gordon McLeod, Denis Cowles, Margaret Rutherford

Decent shipyard boss Ayrton is landed in a serious spot of bother by his thoroughly rotten “brother” (Sydney), out to make a killing with some insider trading on a liner contract with the aid of grinning, unwitting Ricardo Cortez who, as luck would have it, can mimic any man’s speaking voice. The central conceit must be swallowed whole, which takes some doing, and the film would be over in 45 minutes if Cortez would hang his honourable notions of friendship and give Sydney the bop on the nose he so richly deserves, but the murder plot that develops allows for some nicely tense scenes and the convoluted narrative is kept largely free from tangles. Overshadowed, however, is what could have been the true heart of the film, found in the documentary footage of empty shipyards, scenes in the workers’ lanes and pub, and in Ayrton’s benevolent managing director who would rather his board forego salary than deprive the men of their work and their pride.

© Time Out Film Guide

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