Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In short: The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre - The Man Who Was Nobody (1960)

The German Rialto movies were of course not the only Edgar Wallace adaptations made during the 60s. In Wallace's home the UK, Merton Park Studios produced a ton of short b-movies (in the initial sense of the word) between 1960 and 1965, of which The Man Who Was Nobody is an early example.

I have to say, though, that this is hardly playing in the same league as the Rialto movies. Sure, the plot is Wallace-typically overcomplicated, but the British production side-lines the pulp elements and the plain, over-excited weirdness the German Wallace movies loved to play up as much as possible until The Man is only ever another mystery movie without much to excite one.

It sure doesn't help the movie much that its director Montgomery Tully - who always was good at making a perfectly entertaining set-up boring - does not seem to believe in doing even the slightest thing that may be of visual interest to anyone. Though the camera isn't nailed down, it might as well be for all the non-excitement Tully's going for.

The Man isn't a total loss, though, for it thankfully features a very surprising element for a Wallace adaptation - an early 60s hip female private detective as its main hero. Even better, said heroine Marjorie Stedman is played by Hazel Court. Court seems to have quite a bit of fun with her role; she's certainly doing her best making a lot of rather boring and trite scenes of not very exciting adventures in talking to less than exciting people at least look somewhat glamorous and exciting. It's probably not enough to save the film for anyone who doesn't know and admire the actress from Corman's Poe adaptations, but Court fans like me will certainly enjoy seeing her associate with beatniks and be the only actor in the film who actually seems to be alive.


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