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The Bickering Critics – Anita and George

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William Gillette as “Sherlock Holmes” (1916) – reviewed by George

This film is historically important for two reasons: as the first Holmes feature-length movie, and as the film version of the play “Sherlock Holmes” by Gillette himself, which played for years and years all over America. The play was in four acts, and the movie is in “chapters” which correspond to the acts. It was shown as a feature here, and as an adult serial in France (for a discussion of adult serials see my review of “The House of Mystery”, posted 9-22-2016). This becomes important because the film that was restored was located in France and was in the serial format. So the DVD offers the choice of watching the film in individual chapters, or as one film which happens to be divided into chapters, with cards marking the divisions.
Gillette makes a fine Sherlock. Looking forty to forty-five, but actually born in July of 1853, so he was 63 when the film was made in Chicago by Essanay, he was square-jawed good-looking and sturdily built, and his performance is believable (not actorish) and quite good. First we see Sherlock in his laboratory working, then cut to James and Madge Larrabee (Mario Majeroni and Grace Reals) at home having a musical evening, where she plays the piano and he paces. The Larrabees are unscrupulous adventurers and control a large gang of various crooks, including Sid Prince (William Postance), a safecracker, and Forman (Stewart Robbins), their butler, who is actually an agent of Holmes’s. Next we see Alice Faulkner (Marjorie Kay) and a title card says that the Crown Prince, heir apparent to the throne of a large empire, wrote indiscreet letters to a young woman who later died of a broken heart. On her deathbed the wronged girl gave the letters to her sister Alice for safekeeping.
Now Count von Stalburg (Ludwig Kreiss), the Prince’s private secretary, and Sir Edward Palmer (Hugh Thompson), a high-ranking British official, have been charged with retrieving the letters. And while the Larrabees make plans to befriend Alice and take her to their out-of-the-way estate in the country in order to steal the letters, Sir Edward tells the Count that the only man who can help them is Sherlock Holmes.
Dr. Watson (Edward Fielding) arrives at Sherlock’s digs, and Holmes’s man Billy (Burford Hampden) takes his coat. Holmes shows Watson a sketch of the layout of a building. He says that this is where two swindlers are holding a young woman against her will. Soon Professor Moriarty (Ernest Maupain) will join the Larrabees in their scheme. And Moriarty has a “man” too: Bassick (Jack Milton).
The film is easy to follow, even though the plot is very complicated, and the photography is clear and well done. The restoration by the San Francisco Silent Film Society and Cinematheque Francaise is excellent. The scenario is by H.S. Sheldon, of course based on Gillette’s play, and the direction is by Arthur Berthelet. The score is contemporary to the film, and was composed and performed by Neil Brand, Guenter Buchwald, and Frank Backus.
A bit long, even at only 1:57, but still involving and actually great fun.

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Warning Shot (1967) – reviewed by George

Richard Janssen, of TV’s “Richard Diamond, Private Detective”, “The Fugitive” and “Harry O”, heads a star-studded cast of supporting roles and cameos through an almost typical detective plot which has a payoff that is really good. Sergeant Tom Valens (Janssen) is on assignment to go to the Seascape Apartments on a stakeout, where a figure in the dark pulls a gun on him. Valens calls out to drop the gun and when he is not obeyed he fires. The dead man is a respected doctor and no gun can be found. Valens is put on leave pending an investigation and an almost sure dismissal, without jail time if he is lucky.
Now Valens works his way through Los Angeles to prove his innocence and to meet wonderful stars – all the men look great, and all the women look beautiful. First, what was the doctor doing there after 11 P.M.? Well, he regularly visited a diabetic patient after hours since she couldn’t sleep very well. She is Alice Willows, played by Lillian Gish.
He also interviews Steve Allen, George Grizzard, Eleanor Parker, Walter Pidgeon, Stefanie Powers, George Sanders, and Vito Scotti. And Joan Collins plays Valens’s wife, while Ed Begley, Carroll O’Connor, and Keenan Wynn play other cops.
This movie is really lots of fun. It was directed by Buzz Kulik, based on the novel “711 – Officer Needs Help” by Whit Masterson, and the screenplay was written by Mann Rubin. The great score is by Jerry Goldsmith, and it is moody with a cigarettes-and-whiskey kind of vibe. Wonderful!

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Jinnah (1998) – reviewed by George

This film was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies, but not just as a TCM Premiere; it was The North American Premiere. Apparently the film has run into lots of what might be called Active Disinterest, as well as Active Dislike, and is generally considered controversial.
It tells the story of the life of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and it shows the problems the Muslim minority had in India all along, but especially after India was granted independence and Pakistan was partitioned off as a separate nation for India’s Muslims on the same day: August 15, 1947. Pakistan lies north-northwest of India and shares borders with both Afghanistan and Iran.
I think the controversy comes from the movie’s depiction of Gandhi and Nehru, as they deal with the British Empire and move India closer and closer to independence. They are both shown as inhospitable to the Muslim population of their country, though conventional Western thought considers Gandhi, as the defender of the Untouchables and the chief architect of a peaceful transition from colonial possession to free nation, as tolerant and inclusive. Unfortunately the transition really wasn’t that peaceful. However, we know that truth varies depending on whose story is being told. And here we learn from Jinnah that consolidation is impossible: more Muslims will be slaughtered and justice will not be available in the government because “they would have three votes to our one.” Which reminded me of the problems the Welsh have faced in the past as second-class citizens of Great Britain – anytime London needed more water, Parliament would vote to flood another valley in Wales, and of course the Welsh representatives to Parliament were out-voted.
We also see many times when Hindus rode down on gatherings of Muslims and put them to the sword, men, women, and children. And regrettably the British were little help or were outright obstructionists, especially General Gracie, who was assigned to lead the Pakistani army, and the Governor-General himself, Lord Mountbatten.
Jinnah is played in his later years by Christopher Lee and in his younger years by Richard Lintern. Lee also plays Jinnah in the sequences after his death, when he is guided through years he did not see in order for the story to be completed. Indira Varma plays Jinnah’s wife.
The film was directed by Jamil Dehlavi, and is a lavish undertaking: colorful, exciting, and surely with more accuracies than inaccuracies. Its showing on TCM, however, will not lessen the controversy or the unwillingness in some quarters to show it, or allow it to be shown.

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Film Grammar # 12 – Marvel, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 4

Daisy (Chloe Bennet) to Coulson (Clark Gregg): “Thank you for saving Simmons and I back there.”

Okay, the rule is very clear and very simple: a subject is a subject and an object is an object. And the test for whether you’re correct or not is even simpler: leave the first person out. Thus: “Thank you for saving I back there.”
Sounds like an idiot speaking!

So: Daisy should have said, “Thank you for saving Simmons and me back there.”
See? It’s easy!

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Dumb Captions # 39 – Supergirl, Season 2, Episode 2

Winn (Jeremy Jordan) has been working on protective anti-Kryptonite shields for Supergirl (Melissa Benoit) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin). They are needed now, but are not ready.

Superman: “We’ll have to go without ’em!”

Caption: “We’ll have to go with Autumn!”

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Short and Silent Sherlock Holmes (1900-1916) – reviewed by George

Working with and enjoying “The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes” got me interested in looking at Sherlock Holmes movies and shorts in chronological order, the same way I did “Christmas Carol” movies a couple of years ago. So here’s the first installment.

  1. Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900) 1 minute long
    So short and originally shown on Mutoscope machines in arcades, this shows a robber stuffing papers of Holmes’s in a bag. Holmes enters and the man disappears. Holmes sits to ponder with his pipe, and the man reappears. Holmes shoots and misses, and  then picks up the bag of papers and it disappears. Indeed, Sherlock is baffled!
    This is the earliest known film to feature Holmes.
  2. Georges Treville as Sherlock Holmes in “The Copper Beeches” (1912) 26 minutes long
    A Warner’s Feature that says it was produced under the personal supervision of the author, Sir A. Conan Doyle. Tea in the garden: an older man, Rucastle, his daughter Alice and young son, and the daughter’s suitor, William. William asks for the girl’s hand and Rucastle flips and storms into the house. Alice follows and Rucastle prepares a brief note for her to sign, renouncing all claims to the estate when she marries. She refuses, and he goes out and orders William off the property. He later finds a letter from William telling the girl how to signal him when she is ready to run away. Now he locks the girl in an out-building, and hires a governess for the boy, but personally conducts the interviews to be sure this governess will look as much like his daughter as possible. His plan, of course, is to shoot William dead as an intruder. The governess, however, decides something is fishy and goes to town to talk to Sherlock Holmes. This is the midpoint of the film (13 minutes).
    As you might expect, the acting is somewhat florid, but only Rucastle acts directly to the audience. Despite the fact that today’s TV frequently has 30-minute shows adapting short stories, that they could fully tell the story in 1912 in only 26 minutes I found impressive.
  3. Spot the Dog as “Canine Sherlock Holmes” (1912) 15 minutes long
    A bank robbery is underway and we see two title cards: the first to us the audience reads, “POISONED GOLD! NOTE THE NEEDLE POINT ON THE FACE OF THE COIN. ON THE FINGER BEING PRICKED BY IT, THE PERSON IS RENDERED UNCONSCIOUS.” And we see one of the coins being tilted so we can observe the needle point. Next we see the teller counting the coins he was given by moving them around with his finger. He reacts to the needle, looks at his finger, and falls over. The second card is for the customers at the bank: “IF YOU MOVE WITHIN ONE HOUR THIS BOMB WILL BE FIRED BY WIRELESS WAVE AND THE BANK BLOWN UP.”
    Detective Hawkshaw is called in, and he has Spot, who is the real detective, to help him. Spot smells the bomb note and goes out to track down the robber. When he finds the house, he acts as though he has been run over, and the sympathetic woman of the house takes him in, where he can fake injury until no one is around and then find clues, which he hides. Later Spot collects the clues from the hiding place and takes them to  Hawkshaw, who has Spot lead him to the house. Now he sends Spot (he does write a note for Spot to carry) to get the police, while he goes in to confront and delay the bad guys (and girl). There’s a great shot in a greenish-blue tint to indicate twilight, with Spot running way ahead of the police to get them to the house in time.
    The quality of the film is marvelous, but the dog is just incredible!
    And the wonderful music was composed and performed by Cliff Retallick.
    The credits have this writing: “Regie – Stuart Kinder”. I didn’t get it, but imdb.com credits Kinder with writing and directing the film.
  4. Piu Forte Che Sherlock Holmes (1913) 6 and a half minutes long
    The American title is “Stronger Than Sherlock Holmes”.
    We first see a title card: “Sterker Dan / Sherlock Holmes”. And I think your guess is better than mine as to what that has to do with anything. A couple sits dozing at table. A transparent man climbs up out of the newspaper, which has fallen to the floor. At the same time a solid policeman putting on his uniform jacket emerges from the sleeping husband. The policeman stalks the crook and chases him through a garden, shooting at him. The chase turns into a chase across a lake with both men swimming – until the crook gets onto the surface of he lake and does handstands! And then acrobatics! All while the poor cop struggles through the water. This early use of superimposition and quick cut is wonderfully entertaining. And then all the excitement ends with a joke – the dozing man has been dreaming and now wakes up walloping his wife. So where exactly is Sherlock Holmes?
    No credits with the film, but imdb.com says the two men are Domenico Gambino and Emilio Vardannes. They are both terrific acrobats, but which is which? The character names are Saltarelli nd Toto Travetti, but again – which is which?
  5. Douglas Fairbanks as Coke Ennyday, the world’s greatest scientific detective, in “The Mystery of the Leaping Fish” (1916) 19 and a half minutes long
    And now we are in a period where credits are more like those we know: This film’s story is by Tod Browning and it features Direction by John Emerson.
    Coke Ennyday is a tweak on Sherlock’s cocaine habit, and features Fairbanks in real comic mode smoking a pipe and injecting himself (presumably with coke) at the same time. He then spins the needle on a wheel with the choices: Eats, Dope, Drinks, Sleep, and the needle lands on Drinks, so a nearsighted servant starts pouring stuff from many flasks into a single very large blender-looking thing. He fills a gigantic syringe (no needle) and squirts it directly into Coke’s mouth. The Chief of the Secret Service (Tom Wilson) comes to get Coke’s help, but Coke is snorting coke and filling his part of the room with a dense white cloud. Now cut to a guy sleeping in a bed practically buried in paper money. He is the Gentleman Rolling in Wealth (A.D. Sears), and when he rises he asks a servant to “Press me out a bundle of money.” He is also the man in the picture the Chief tried to show Coke. Meanwhile Coke has put on a disguise and is heading for Short Beach, where a guy called Fishy Joe (also the Man Rolling in It) tells the two men who work the Leaping Fish booth, “Give me that girl in marriage within the week, or I will spill the beans.” What beans? Well, a leaping fish is a sort of inflated surf board, except with long lateral fins, and these guys in the booth are using them to transport opium, but under Fishy Joe’s direction, so how sincere is his threat? And he demands this girl in front of his female confederate (Alma Reubens). And the girl he wants is Inane (Bessie Smith), the Little Fish-Blower of Short Beach (I know, I know!) who inflates the fish without mechanical assistance. When Coke finds the opium stash he tastes it – again and again. And gets really jiggy with it.
    This is the most Un-PC thing I’ve seen in a long, long time, but I fell off my couch laughing. When Coke defeats the bad guys by either injecting them with coke or blowing it in their faces (they fall down instantly), I was  almost hurting from laughing. The ending of the film is Douglas and Bessie standing in the studio’s Scenario Department with the dude there telling Doug he had better stick to acting and stop trying to write.
    Thanks to Flicker Alley, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and La Cinematheque francaise (for #s 1, 3, and 4 above), and Synergy Entertainment (for #s 1, 2, and 5). The Flicker Alley, etc, DVD set is called “William Gillette Sherlock Holmes”, and the Synergy Entertainment DVDs are in two sets called “Sherlock Holmes Archive Collections”.
    Since everyone seems to agree that “Sherlock Holmes Baffled” is a 1900 film, it is interesting to note that the small piece of film at the beginning of the Synergy version says, “Copyright 1903”.
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MI-5 (2015) – reviewed by George

This film, based on a long-running British TV show called “Spooks” there, “MI-5” here, is a dandy spy thriller with MI-5 fighting to survive a two-pronged attack: from the CIA, which wants to weaken it and then take it over, and a terrorist who wants to destroy it.
Peter Firth is the star as Harry Pearce, the head of MI-5, a part he played for all ten seasons of the show. His most dependable field agent changed actors (and character names) over the years, and here there is a new man, Will Holloway, played by Kit Herrington of “Game of Thrones” renown.
Early on it becomes obvious that the terrorist, Adem Qasim (pronounced Ka-Seem), played by Elyes Gabel, is being fed information by someone at or near the top of MI-5, so that prong is sort of double-daggered. Harry explains to one top level person why they can’t bring Qasim in, even if they do manage to capture him,”Someone wants to destroy the service, and we have to learn who. It’s someone at the top, so we have to keep Qasim out of the system. Inside he’ll be quickly silenced.” The reply, “Harry, you’ve lost it!”
Some of the top level people are Geraldine Maltby (Jennifer Ehle), Francis Warrender (David Harewood, currently in “Supergirl”), and Oliver Mace (Tim Mcinnerney of “Black Adder”). And as a field agent: June Keaton (Tuppence Middleton). Qasim’s pregnant wife, Asma Shishani, is played by Athena Efstathiou..
As on the TV show, central characters die, false leads are followed, sometimes into danger, and there are many surprises along the way. As a spy film this is top-drawer.
Directed by Bharat Nalluri and written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, based on the TV series “Spooks” created by David Wolstencroft.

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The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Set 2, Vol. 1 (1973) – reviewed by George

More Victorian mysteries (and some Edwardian mysteries as well) celebrating detectives popularized in the heyday of Mr. Holmes.

  1. Judy Geeson as Polly Burton in “The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway” by Baroness Orczy (1865-1947), Dramatized by Alan Cooke and Directed by Graham Evans.
    Polly is a reporter and is ambitious for more than the social pages. Furthermore her boyfriend is on the London Police Force, so when a mysterious death occurs, she has inside information. Plus, her uncle is a barrister, and ends up defending the accused, whom both Polly and her uncle are sure is innocent. The murdered woman was happy and excited as she boarded a compartment of the train, a compartment holding only a staid gentleman who told her that this is indeed the train to Aldgate. He was reading his newspaper and turned out to be an unreliable witness to the look of the murderer, who boarded and was greeted by the woman as “My love.”
    Polly baits the killer and is in some degree of danger herself, again on the train, but acquits herself well and the case is solved. Well-acted and in the women’s movement mold that was fairly characteristic of Baroness Orczy.
  2. Barry Keegan as Inspector Lipinzki in “Five Hundred Carats” by George Griffith (1857-1905), Dramatized by Alexander Baron, and Directed by Jonathan Alwyn.
    In a South African diamond-mining area, Inspector Lipinzki is the local law. A huge rough diamond is stolen, and he must find it and arrest the thieves. Among the suspects: Philip Marsden (Martin Jarvis), Charlie Lomas (Richard Morant), and Mr. Cornelius (Alan Tilvern). A clever theft and a clever detective make this an entertaining entry. The method of theft was so easy it must have resulted in huge changes in the security plans.
    Griffith was well-known for his science-fiction novels “The Angels of the Revolution” and “Olga Romanoff” in which he blended science fiction with social commentary. He also made a trip around the world in 65 days, and helped discover the source of the Amazon River!
  3. Douglas Wilmer as Prof. Augustus Van Dusen in “Cell 13” by Jacques Futrelle (1875-1912), Dramatized by Julian Bond, and Directed by Reginald Collin.
    Van Dusen is entertaining friends and makes the claim that anything is possible for a man who thinks. He is quickly challenged to escape from a high security prison, takes the wager, and agrees to meet the other men back at his flat in exactly one week. We see parts of the week he spends imprisoned, and then at the reunion he explains how he did it. Very entertaining, but not quite believable, since he finds within his prison cell things that he can use to establish contact with the outside (there was no pre-planning at all – he made the bet and was escorted to the prison immediately) which makes it look like he won by happenstance and not so much by brains. Michael Gough plays the prison “governor”, and Ray Smith plays the Chief Prison Officer, with Nicholas Courtney as Van Dusen’s reporter-friend, Hutchinson Hatch. Noteworthy: Wilmer played Holmes himself in a 1964 series for the BBC.
    Futrelle was an American journalist out of Atlanta and only published fiction for roughly six years due to his death on the Titanic. He refused to take a seat in a life boat, making sure that his wife got one.
  4. Bernard Hepton as Mr. J.T. Lax worthy in “The Secret of the Magnifique” by E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946), Dramatized b y Gerald Kelsey, and Directed by Derek Bennett.
    This is another torpedo-stealing story like “The Case of the Dixon Torpedo” in Set One. A young, decent-looking young man is being discharged from prison into an empty landscape, except for a single-horse cab, whose driver asks the young man questions and reveals he has been hired to pick the young man up and deliver him to his new lodgings. The young man is Sydney Wing (Christopher Neame) and his new flat includes a woman called Perkins who is the housekeeper/cook, etc. Later the same cabbie picks up a slightly older man who looks a trifle rough, and delivers him to the same place. The second man is Anderson (Neil McCarthy). Now we learn that the cabbie is Mr. Laxworthy and he explains to his new accomplices that they will be engaged in making money, IF they can take orders and do exactly as he says. They go to France where Sydney plays a young wealthy member of the British upper class and Anderson is his valet. Laxworthy takes an innocuous place as an observer. Without ever doing anything dishonest they save the plans for the torpedo for France (bad guys were trying to steal them for Germany), and claim quite a bit of money for themselves (okay, well, blackmail is dishonest), while at the same time Sydney romances Madame Bertrand (Mitzi Rogers), who is also the way to stay close to her other companion, Admiral Christador (John Nettleton). Very clever and solidly involving and entertaining.
    Oppenheim made espionage a popular genre, and thus laid the way for others to follow, among them Ian Fleming with James Bond. Oppenheim’s most famous work is the novel “The Great Impersonation”, which has been filmed three times.
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The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Set 2, Vol. 2 (1973) – reviewed by George

5. Charles Gray as Valmont in “The Absent Minded Coterie” by Robert Barr (1849-1912), Dramatized by Alexander Baron, and Directed by Peter Duguid.
Valmont is knowledgeable and suave, very continental, and never gets very excited except over fine food and alcoholic beverages. There are two cases here: first a scam on the forgetful, in which they are identified by advertising a cure for absent-mindedness, and then they are sold something for a slightly lower price than normal, to be paid so much per week. Then a beautiful woman shows up every week to collect the fee, except that she continues to collect long after the bill is fully paid. Plus: 5-shilling pieces are counterfeited using half the amount of silver, making each transaction carry a 50% profit.
Barr occasionally parodied other fictional detectives in his stories, even Sherlock. He and Arthur Conan Doyle were great friends, and Doyle was a great admirer.

6. John Thaw as Lt. Holst in “The Sensible Action of Lieutenant Holst” by Baron Palle Rosenkrantz (1854-1914), Dramatized by Michael Meyer, and Directed by Jonathan Alwyn.
Such fun to see Thaw so young! It is 1905 in Copenhagen and Holst is presented with a truly confusing he said/she said problem. The Countess Wolkonski (Maria Schell) says her brother-in-law Count Wolkonski (Philip Madoc) has murdered her husband and son and has followed her to Denmark to kill her as well. The Count says yes, he has followed her, but it is because she has absconded with his brother’s entire estate, and he only wants what was legally willed to him. Further muddying the waters is their penchant for calling names: he is an “anarchist”, she is a “Tsarist”. When Mrs. Ulla Holst (Virginia Stride) gets a chance to meet the countess she tells her husband that she is sure the woman is telling the truth – she is utterly convincing to another woman, and who should know better? Rosenkrantz (and Meyer) has elegantly balanced the situation. A good story well-presented.
Rosenkrantz did not use his title on his books and stories. He was a Baron who did not grow up in the style expected of the titled. He married a grocer’s daughter and eventually had to write fiction to make ends meet. He introduced Denmark to crime fiction as an independent genre.

7. Douglas Wilmer as Van Dusen in “The Superfluous Finger” by Jacques Futrelle, Dramatized by Julian Bond, and Directed by Derek Bennett.
An attractive young woman (Veronica Strong), who refuses to give her name, is trying to talk the renowned London surgeon Sir Tobias Prescott (Laurence Payne) into amputating her left forefinger at the second joint. The surgeon refuses, but she manages to get her finger mutilated in the office door as she is leaving. Now he has no choice and the amputation is performed. But as he prepares to operate he tells his receptionist Miss Jones (Margaret John) to call Professor Van Dusen and ask him to come over ASAP. He tells Van Dusen about this curious case while the lady is still unconscious, and Van Dusen says he will think about it.  An attractive young woman, Miss Rossmore (also Veronica Strong), visits the somewhat mad uncle from whom she will, perhaps in a very few years, inherit a mansion and a tub-full of money. He is waving a handgun around and it goes off. She falls to the floor, we see a fair amount of blood, and Sir Hector Drummond, Bart (William Mervyn) says, “Damn thing was loaded after all.”
Are there two young women? Or only one? Dennis Chinnery plays Mr. Morey, and Mark Eden plays Van Dusen’s reporter friend Roderick Varley.
This is a really good story, excellent throughout, and Mervyn keeps the humor coming as Sir Hector Drummond, Bt.

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The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Set 2, Vol. 3 (1973) – reviewed by George

8. Ronald Lewis as Dagobert Trostler in “Anonymous Letters” by Balduin Groller (1848-1916), Dramatized by Anthony Steven, and Directed by Dennis Vance.
In 1900 Vienna, Countess Nadja (Nicola Pagett) tells her best friend Countess Tildi Leys (Carolyn Jones), in strictest confidence, that Tildi is correct to detect the appearance of agitation; Nadja’s health is being ruined because she has been receiving the most awful anonymous letters. They accuse her of cheating on her husband, the Archduke Othmar (Michael Aldridge) and reference a bodily detail of the most private kind. Tearfully Tildi reveals that she also has been receiving awful letters, obviously from the same man, because her letters also refer to an intimate mark, a mole. There is a difference, however, since the letters to Tildi do not threaten to tell her husband; she is currently unmarried. The two women agree to consult Herr Dagobert Trostler, a trusted and utterly upright (and very intelligent) gentleman, to discover the writer and make him stop.
Balduin Groller was the pseudonym of Adalbert Goldscheider, a journalist who was born in Hungary and achieved fame in Vienna, like Dagobert. His six-volume work “Detective Dagobert’s Actions and Adventures: A Short Story Cycle” was published from 1910-1912. It contains all of Trostler’s cases.

9. Barry Ingram as Dr. Thorndyke in “The Moabite Cipher” by R. Austin Freeman (1862-1943), Dramatized by Reginald Collin, and Directed by Mr. Collin as well.
John Thorndyke is a pharmacist and chemist as well as a medical doctor, and is frequently sought out by Scotland Yard for knowledge considered arcane by the average Englishman (read policeman). He has his own Watson in the person of Dr. Jervis (Peter Sallis), who mildly defers to Thorndyke’s intellect and aids in his experiments. This is another two-case story, with the first involving anarchists, perhaps on the payroll of the Russian Embassy. The major clue is a cipher in ancient Moabite writing, which when translated may well determine who is behind the anarchists’ plans for bombings. Thorndyke does some excellent work and Superintendent Miller (Nicholas Selby), whose special section at the Yard deals with political matters, and his aide Inspector Badger (Eric McCaine) leave. Then the second case begins with a Mr. Barton (Julian Glover) showing up. He says his brother Alfred, a 55-year-old who has recently married a young lady of 26, appears to have been poisoned by his bride. His message is please come with me and save my brother’s life. So Thorndyke and Jervis board a train with Barton and set off to examine Alfred and possibly treat him for arsenic poisoning. There is also a fine comic performance by Derek Smith, as Professor Popplebaum, who is an academic expert in Moabite.
R. Austin Freeman was a trained apothecary and supposedly conducted all the experiments used in his stories. He was in the Colonial Service, but contracted blackwater fever and returned to London. Unable to find medical employment, he wrote fiction to earn money. As noted in the review of Rivals, Set 1, Disc 1, Episode 1, posted 9-9-16, Freeman invented the inverted detective story in which the reader learns first of the crime and the person committing it. The form proved incredibly popular.

10. Derek Jacobi as William Drew in “The Secret of the Fox Hunter” by William Le Queux (1864-1927), Dramatized by Gerald Kelsey, and Directed b y Graham Evans.
Another spy story, this one featuring a young lady’s middle-aged servant Miss Baines (Denise Coffey) as the British spy. The bad guys are Germans, which seems to have been something of an obsession of Le Queux’s, although there are French spies as well. Drew works in the Foreign Office, basically in London, but if he has to contact a spy he is handling, without recalling that spy, he travels abroad to meet with them. He is considered by the public (and by most of his friends) to be a young socialite, with little to do other than country parties. Baron Stern (never seen), a Viennese gentleman, takes a shooting box near Stoke Doyle, and Drew is on the case. Count Krempelstein (Michael Warner), a known spy, is invited to come to Stoke Doyle for a fox hunt. Drew wangles an invitation, and contacts Miss Baines, who will be there with her young lady, Krempelstein’s daughter Gerda (Sara Clee). Another spy, Colonel Davidoff (Peter Arne) shows up, and there are young lovers: the German Beatrice (Lisa Harrow) and the English Jack (Simon Gough).
Le Queux was a pretty amazing man. An Anglo-Frenchman, he was a writer, a journalist, a diplomat (serving as the honorary consul for San Marino), a noted traveler, and a flying buff serving as an official for the first British air meeting at Doncaster in 1909. He was also a wireless pioneer broadcasting music from his personal radio station. His best-known literary works are what are called “Anti-German Invasion Fantasies”:  “The Great War in England in 1897” (published 1894) and “The Invasion of 1910” (published in 1906).
Seems like maybe he was just ahead of his time, right? In furtherance of that impression, there is a murder here which reminded me of the murders not so long ago in England, where radioactive elements were introduced into the victims’ bodies in either food or medicine.

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