Baby boomer. Have been in accounting for 28+ years and am now reconnoitering to a new midlife career change in the challenging field of Adult marginal and early literacy which I consider related.To preview the details of my company go to http://www.manta.com/c/mm89pvd/g-e-enterprises-and-associates-llc
When a wealthy business man is found dead reporter Philip Trent is sent to investigate. Against the police conclusions, he suspects the assumed suicide is really a murder, and becomes highly interested in the young widow and the dead man's private secretary.
Unlike the other reviewers above, I enjoyed this film immensely, probably because I am a Margaret Lockwood fan and collect as many of her films as I can when they are available.This one is not commercially available but I managed to find a dealer on Ebay who specialises in the older films I like.The other reviewers mention it is too "talky" but this is not supposed to be "Die Hard" or even a James Bond adventure.It is a cultured British film, from Republic films, from 1952 with an excellent cast who speak with wonderful diction and enunciation before "kitchen sink drama" mesmerised film producers.Herbert Wilcox (Anna Neagle's husband) produced this gripping thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the very end.I will concede that the plot is at times a bit like an amateur dramatic society but this gives it its intrinsic charm especially when the principal parts are played by good professional actors.An example is Orson Wells sitting in an armchair and filmed from the rear redolent of a James Bond villain.He only needed to be stroking a white cat on his lap!! Michael Wilding plays his usual debonair self as "Philip Trent" the artistic crime reporter.Margaret Lockwood plays again the pianoforte (see my critique of "Love Story" (1944) when she played Lissa Campbell),Herbert Wilcox (Anna Neagle's husband) produced this gripping thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the very end.I will concede that the plot is at times a bit like an amateur dramatic society but this gives it its intrinsic charm especially when the principal parts are played by good professional actors.An example is Orson Wells sitting in an armchair and filmed from the rear redolent of a James Bond villain.He only needed to be stroking a white cat on his lap!! Michael Wilding plays his usual debonair self as "Philip Trent" the artistic crime reporter.Margaret Lockwood plays again the pianoforte (see my critique of "Love Story" (1944) when she played Lissa Campbell),This time we have the pleasure of listening to Eileen Joyce (the real pianist) playing the famous Mozart piano concerto no:24 in C minor, larghetto movement.Eileen's other famous film credit was playing the Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto in C minor for "Brief Encounter (1945).Orson as mentioned was fond of Shakespeare's "Othello" and some of this plot is worked into this film.Like "The Third Man" (1949), Orson does not appear until late into the film but he immediately makes his not inconsiderable presence felt as "Sigsbee Manderson".MargaretMargaret plays Margaret Manderson his wife.No trouble remembering her name by the cast!John McCallum gives a workmanlike performance as John Marlowe, the secretary to Manderson and Miles Malleson for once leaves aside his clerical garb to play Burton Cupples, Margaret's uncle.What amused me was seeing a very young Kenneth Williams playing a garrulous Welsh gardener! You would only see this film if you you actively set out to acquire it since it never appears on the the TV and as I said is not commercially available.Obviously being a thriller I will not divulge the plot.Suffice to say it ends happily for all concerned.I rated it 8/10. Since I wrote this critique in July 2007 this title is now commercially available from www.silversirens.co.uk Enjoy!
21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
It's good news for Welles completists that this, the better of the two films he made for Herbert Wilcox in 1952 (to help finance his on-off-on but finally magnificent film of 'Othello') is now available on DVD, though dismally free of extras. As a thriller it is a puzzle almost devoid of suspense, though there are some clever twists at the end. There are polished performances by Margaret Lockwood, John McCallum, Michael Wilding as the classy sleuth Trent, Miles Malleson in one of his best roles and Welles. Welles appears for no more than 20 minutes, in flashback, but, with his formidable false nose, is an intimidating presence as the late Sigsbee Manderson. In a fraught dialogue with McCallum he talks about 'Othello' and the production he's recently seen: "Didn't like the leading actor!" The leading actor was Welles himself, performing at the St James' theatre - a performance I was privileged have seen a year or two earlier, when Ken Tynan, long before PC was thought of, headed his review 'Citizen Coon'!
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Author:blanche-2 from United States
10 August 2011
Michael Wilding takes up "Trent's Last Case" in this 1952 film directed by Herbert Wilcox for Republic Studios. It's British with a British cast that includes Margaret Lockwood, John McCallum, Hugh McDermott, and one American, Orson Welles, who was probably trying to raise money for a project.
Trent is an artist and also an amateur detective. He gets involved in the suicide of a wealthy man named Manderson, but as he investigates, it looks more and more like murder. One suspect stands out, but how to prove it?
Unlike many detectives in books and movies, Trent is fallible. This is a neat mystery with a few red herrings. I don't agree that it was dull; I think the story itself keeps the film going, as well as the attractive Michael Wilding. Wilding falls in with many of those tall, good-looking British actors from the '50s - Robert Flemying, Michael Rennie, etc., and probably wouldn't be well known here if he hadn't married Elizabeth Taylor. Nevertheless, he was quite urbane with a great voice and acquits himself well as Trent. Margaret Lockwood is lovely as the victim's widow, and she keeps you guessing.
Not as bad as some reviewers claim. Maybe not as good either, but I enjoyed it. Orson Welles apparently had an obsession with using fake noses on his characters. It's really obvious in profile.
When TRENT'S LAST CASE first appeared in 1913 it shook up the detective mystery reading public because of the "daring" of the author's approach to the style of the novel. Up to then you had the classic straightforward mystery story from Poe to Collins to Conan Doyle, wherein you have a person who is confronted by a mystery (usually a murder case, although a theft of a jewel or property is possible). The one real innovation in this form was in 1905, when R. Austen Freeman suggested the "inverted detective story". You may be familiar with this if you watch Peter Falk as Inspector Columbo on television. Instead of the hero of the mystery story stumbling onto the scene of the result of the crime, and then piecing together the solution using the clues carefully, Freeman looked at the behavior of the perpetrator (not always a villain, by the way), and how he or she commits the crime, and how the brilliant detective slowly reveals the various inconsistencies that make the crime look less and less an accident than was intended. This became an acceptable development in detective novels.
But along came Bentley. He had the audacity to suggest the fallibility of the detective. A Dupin, a Lecoq, a Holmes, a Father Brown, a Dr. Thorndyke, could be momentarily stumped or wrong, but inevitably would solve the mystery. But Bentley suggested that even a brilliant detective like Philip Trent was human - he comes to a wrong solution in this story (he suggests the victim plotted his own suicide to entrap his victim). Instead, Trent's uncle solves the case. It only shows that the trickiness of circumstantial evidence and clues can fool anyone.
The story is dated - there was very casually accepted anti-Semitism in British fiction at the time (and since Sigsbee Manderson is extremely rich from stock-market manipulations, the image of Jewish stock brokers is overused in the book and even, at one point, intrudes into the movie - a newspaper editor, dictating an editorial, mentions the death of Manderson leads to suicides and panics including one in Jerusalem!). Bentley was not the only person who wrote like this. Chesterton did (and more vehemently). Even Conan-Doyle (despite his real life aid to Oscar Slater, a Jewish German suspect in a Scots murder case) occasionally used negative terms for Jews - see his "The Adventure of the Stock-Broker's Clerk". Freeman, like Chesterton and Bentley, was more openly bigoted.
On the other hand, the story is interesting enough for the viewer to keep his or her opinions on the bigotry aside. The main problem about it is the suspension of disbelief regarding whether a brilliant malevolent millionaire would actually put his being in jeopardy by putting such a weird plot into motion. I suspect not. It would be easier to fire or even kill the rival.
In 1952 Orson Welles was working around Europe raising money for projects, chief of which was his movie of OTHELLO. Welles performed in many films, frequently in second rate ones. He agreed to do the role of Manderson, who (like Harry Lime in a better film) only appears on screen in the last quarter of the movie, but whose spirit permeates the entire film. To make the evil millionaire more detestable Welles made the face of Manderson striking but ugly. His eyes are made beetle like by a wide brown under a strikingly straight, large nose. He looks formidable indeed, but utterly untrustworthy, and unlovable.
Welles performance (mostly against Margaret Leighton and John McCallan) is pretty good. But most of the film is in the hands of dapper, clever, Michael Wilding. Wilding is not an actor of the same caliber of Welles, but he does nicely with the part of the competent and self-confident Philip Trent. Also doing a nice (and as it turns out, surprising ) job is Miles Malleson as Trent's uncle. For these three I will give the film a six.
But that said, the film is otherwise too talky, not enough action (until we see what actually happened - far too late in the film). If not for the performances listed above, this film would be easily dismissible.
Well, it would have one other moment of unintentional amusement. A better screenplay writer might have gone to town with a small mistake that Wilding's Trent makes when confronting McCallum. He mentions that he is aware of the latter's brilliant performance (at university) in a production of Shakespeare. The problem is that the play he mentions and the role that McCallum appeared in were not connected (i.e., the role was in another Shakespearean play). I wonder if Wilding and McCallum were aware of the blunder. If they were they didn't show any awareness of it in the filming.