CLOUDBURST (director/writer: Francis Searle; screenwriter: from a play by Leo Marks; cinematographer: Walter J. Harvey; editor: John Ferris; music: Frank Spencer; cast: Robert Preston (John Graham), Elizabeth Sellars (Carol Graham), Colin Tapley (Inspector Davis), Sheila Burrell (Lorna Dawson), Harold Lang (Mickie Fraser), Mary Germaine (Peggy), George Woodbridge (Sergeant Ritchie), Lyn Evans (Chuck Peters), Thomas Heathcot (Jackie), Daphne Anderson (Kate, Maid), Edward Lexy (Cardew); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Anthony Hinds/Alexander Paal; Hammer Film/UA; 1951-UK)
“Robert Preston is wonderfully expressive as the man who is obsessed with getting revenge.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A taut revenge potboiler from Great Britain and Hammer Studio, which is aimed at an American audience by starring the Hollywood actor Robert Preston. He plays as a Canadian ex-colonel in the resistance movement during the war, John Graham, and is currently a codebreaker expert for the British Foreign Office, whose motto is that there isn’t a code that can’t be broken.
John’s loving wife Carol (Elizabeth Sellars) was in the resistance movement with him, and is expecting their first child. He is so elated that he has already dreamed about sending his child to an exclusive boarding school and buying a meadow so that the child can have room to play. At the field, a speeding car rushes by. John stops the car and realizes the man and woman in the getaway car were the killers of a night watchman in nearby Windsor a constable warned him to be on the watch for. While he’s struggling with the man, the woman stabs him on the hand with a scissors and the guy floors the car. Carol, who got out of their car to join her husband looking at the field, stumbles as she tries to get away from the speeding car and is accidentally killed. In the last conversation John had with his wife, she said she feels so sorry for the guard’s widow that if she were in her place she would do anything to get revenge on his killers.
Instead of reporting what he knows to the police, John decides to get revenge on the culprits by using the same commando tactics from the war. John asks the help of his former comrades Jackie (Heathcot) and Chuck (Evans), who are respectively a mechanic and a boxing instructor. Jackie gives him phony car plates, while Chuck traces down the identity of the man John believed was a boxer. John then visits Mickie Fraser’s apartment and confronts him as the one who killed his wife and unborn child, as well as murdered the guard. He tortures Mickie to find out where he can find his girlfriend companion Lorna, from that fatal night. When Mickie doesn’t know, he brings him to a deserted dark road and runs him down. The only mistake John made, was in the scuffle with Mickie he dropped a code from his pocket. That code meant a lot to him, it was a list of Christmas gifts he was going to get for Carol.
Scotland Yard Inspector Davis (Colin Tapley) feels that whoever dropped the code, is more than likely to be the killer. He brings the code to John and asks him to break it. But the inspector soon figures out that John murdered the boxer and will also try and kill Lorna. It now turns into a moral dilemma, as John feels he has nothing more to live for without his wife and even though the inspector has arrested Lorna — he still attempts to make her pay for killing his wife.
Warning: spoiler to follow.
Robert Preston is wonderfully expressive as the man who is obsessed with getting revenge. The story is always suspenseful, but it doesn’t have the guts to resolve what to do with John after he completes his mission and gets the two killers who took his wife’s life. In the last scene he’s under arrest, as the the inspector respectfully takes him into custody. But the question remains, How do you sentence him?
REVIEWED ON 10/10/2002 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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