Thursday, 8 September 2011


Director H.Bruce Humberstone had a respectable career working with the likes of Boris Karloff, Danny Kaye and Glenn Miller. My favourite among his films is the film noir I WAKE UP SCREAMING with Laird Cregar. Thanks to friend Cerpts I welcome the chance to see this early example of his work. It certainly has a busy plot with masked criminals, amateur sleuths, an old dark house, a sinister swami, skeletons and trap doors etc. I share with Cerpts a fascination for the "Old Dark House" genre and while some examples can be a bit on the slow side THE CROOKED CIRCLE could never be accused of that. It fairly bubbles along with never a dull patch - in fact one gets the feeling that the film has too much plot for its running time. The films biggest stars are actually regulated to supporting roles as comedy relief but as they are wisecracking James Gleason ("It's Moider!") and Zasu Pitts the fun never sinks to the irritating level seen in so many films. Interesting to see Ben Lyon as the hero because although he famously appeared in Howard Hughes' HELL'S ANGELS he is best known to my generation in England as the star of the long running BBC radio show of the 50's, LIFE WITH THE LYONS - his voice alone conjures up part of my childhood. Rating ***

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