The Dark Man (1951) Killer Thriller With A Big Chase Filler…

I wanted a short movie, preferably with a dash of crime, thriller and drama all rolled into one. Oh go on then, chuck in a young sexy lady for a bonus! I’m equal, even throw in a hunky fella to balance it out. Devilish good looks with a cad like pencil thin mustache. Tall, dark and handsome but sorry ladies there’s no gentleman with this guy. He so happens to be a relentless killer! Dubbed The Dark Man! His demeanor is threatening, with a foreboding sinister evil that he’d use to quietly menace and kill with. Truth be told he was also a tad stupid. You see, he had just killed. Blasted a man to death. This guy has no virtues, he shot him straight in the back. You see the man had seen him, not kill, yet the Dark Man had, no he had seen his face. The poor man, who would soon become deceased didn’t realise his fate at first. Then when it dawned it became kind of obvious. It didn’t matter, like I said, his life was over, he wasn’t telling no one. Now if the Dark Man was sensible he’d remove himself from this small town with haste…

The bullet smashed it’s way into cloth, ripped through flesh, blood and then muscle as it hit the young man’s back. The pistol let out a clack-pow sound that echoed across the open the road. A hundred feet a way, on her bike, Molly Lester (Natasha Parry) stopped, more intrigued to what the sound was. It had left an eerie silence. She looked, saw a crashed vehicle by a clearing near the woods. Then he appeared! The Dark Man. It was too far to really make him out. Anyhow she was late, the curtains would be going up soon and she would miss her stage time. Molly was an aspiring actress, it was all she wanted to do. She dismissed the man of shadows. She rode on. The dark man stood in silence as he looked on…

The newspaper described the murder scene. Molly’s friend Barbara (Carol Burns) read with morbid excitement. She was clearly more interested. Molly hadn’t seen a thing, she didn’t get all the fuss. The police on the other hand were concerned that this man had no problems killing, he may come for the girl. The Superintendent (William Hartnell) assigns Detective Inspector Jack Viner (Edward Underdown) to investigate and shadow Molly. Arriving at the theatre her friend comments how young and handsome Jack is. “You look too young to be a policeman!“. Barbara needed her eyes tested! Jack looked sixty plus. Molly and Jack fall in love instantly. It took one walk, for a few minutes, before they are in full embrace. The cops were fast movers back then!… Note – looking up Edward Underdown’s age at time of filming I was shocked he was in fact 43! If he wasn’t telling porkie pies about his birth year! People really did look so much older back then…

Molly Lester –Is he alright?
Superintendent –Depends what you mean by alright. In two minutes I’ll be able to tell you whether you’re marrying a lunatic or a corpse.

In the dimly lit shadows, the outline of a man stared unblinking from his hotel room over looking the theatre. He waited for Molly to appear. Drawing on a cigarette in the blackness the smoke filled the window. The Dark Man (Maxwell Reed) watched his pray. Ready to cover up, silence, all the loose ends before returning to the stash of money he had originally killed for. He watched, stalked and planned, binding his time to sweep in and finish her. Turn her lights out…

Tagline – Set in one of Britain’s Forbidden Areas…..this is one of the most fascinating films ever screened!

I found this film looking through William Hartnell’s filmography. Mister Hartnell’s superintendent character doesn’t really get going in the film until near the end. He gives a little deep speech before joining the end man hunt. A man hunt that really takes to an unexpected turn. It all about the strange landscape set piece that jumps a dramatic contrast to rest of the film. A vast stretch of land with dunes and dotted about islands of vegetation. Broken down outhouses and a large old ancient round looking castle appear. What was this place? It was filmed at Camber Castle on the Sussex coast. What makes the end chase so unique is that it’s an army firing range with a few hundred military personnel firing missiles across the pathways of our hero and villain.

Now I’m sorry to bring the tone down or offend anyone but I must place my pervy hat upon my head! Natasha Parry is stunning here and they really do go to many lengths to show her off. Pulling up stockings, undoing her top to reveal her bra. 50’s sunbathing outfit for a impromptu read on the beach. Ok, nothing really is shown but you can imagine it being all rather titillating back then. There’s one moment when Miss Parry walks to the bus stop. Legs appearing from her floating dress and you feel yourself blowing mouthfuls of air at the tv to help the gust of wind flow her skirt up. It was close I tell you, hang on did I just write that? Damn it I must remember never to put that hat on! Not the first time I got myself in hot water wearing that same hat I’ll tell you! Yeah I remember the time I turned up at a Women’s Institute Christmas event wearing my trusty hat… Yep I’d leave that story for another time, all I’ll say is wooden spoons and spatulas and I couldn’t sit down for a whole week!

The Dark Man is written and directed by Jeffrey Dell. It says he’d been in the Royal Flying Corps. I wonder if he still had connections with the British Army? That end scene really is something else with all the military presence. Which brings us to this great little speech from a sergeant to his eager men ready to join the hunt….

Look there might be another chap out there on the ranges, he’s a police inspector but he’s in civvies? So we don’t want any mistakes. Don’t go blazing away at the first chap you see, challenge him and then if he shows fight, let him have it in the legs!”

Maxwell Reed made for a handsome baddie. A few sinister scenes with the light bulbs and the hiding in the shadows were well put together. His opening introduction scene is superb as he towers on the screen as the others cower. A few sections are so-so especially with the love interest with the inspector being rather ridiculous. Besides, it didn’t matter, as of course there was the divine Natasha Parry to look at. Then the finale comes, the near on 20 minute end chase gave this film a good unique feel. Kudos to Jeffrey Dell and and his camera and lighting crew for going to town. We get treated to some cool sweeping noir lighting shots across vast open landscapes with vehicles and men running around in the moonlight. I’m sure Jeffrey had army connection’s as he managed to get his hands on a world war two search light that streaked a laser like light across the blackness of night. Ok I quite possibly might be guilty of bigging this up a little but I enjoyed it. Let me know if you know it, see it or just wanna say hello.

And remember to keep howling at the TV with the window open. Keep the neighbours on their toes.

Thanks for popping on by… Mikey

7.5/10 6.3/10

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