GLASS TOMB, THE (aka: THE GLASS CAGE) (director: Montogomery Tully; screenwriters: Richard H. Landau/based on the novel The Outsiders by A.E. Martin; cinematographer: Walter Harvey; editor: James Needs; music: Leonard Salzedo; cast: John Ireland (Pel Pelham), Honor Blackman (Jenny Pelham), Geoffrey Keen (Harry Stanton), Eric Pohlmann (Sapolio), Sid James (Tony Lewis), Liam Redmond (Inspector Lindley), Sydney Tafler (Rorke, private detective), Valerie Vernon (Bella, tattoo dancer), Arnold Marlé (Pop Maroni), Nora Gordon (Marie Sapolio), Sam Kydd (George), Ferdy Mayne (Bertie, tattoo artist and Bella’s husband), Tonia Bern (Rena Maroni/Dolores LaMarr), Arthur Howard (Rutland, real-estate agent), Stan Little (Mickelwitz, midget), Bernard Bresslaw (Ivan the Terrible); Runtime: 59; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anthony Hinds; VCI Entertainment; 1955-UK)
“Somewhat spicy and weird B-film thriller set in a London carnival atmosphere.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Montogomery Tully (“The Way Out”/”Query”/”Terror Street”) directs this somewhat spicy and weird B-film thriller set in a London carnival atmosphere. It’s based on the novel The Outsiders by A.E. Martin and written by Richard H. Landau. It’s a moderate programmer that manages to get by its weak and unconvincing story by the efforts of its talented cast. The cheap attempt at a noir film was co-produced by American distributor Robert Lippert and the British Hammer Films.
Small-time American hustler carnival promoter Pel Pelham (John Ireland) is a devoted family who lives with his sweet English wife Jenny (Honor Blackman) and idolizing young son Peter in London, who upsets dad by aspiring to be a carnival barker like dad. The struggling former bookmaker, embittered that he’s an outsider who must live by his wits, hopes to make a killing by promoting Henri Sapolio (Eric Pohlmann), the “world’s champion starving man,” to break his record 65 days of starving in Los Angeles by going 70 days in London without grub while sealed in a glass tomb and observed by paying customers. The honest Pel borrows £250 from his bookie pal and former boss, Tony Lewis (Sid James), to get enough bread to bankroll the show. In exchange for the favor Pel visits a former girlfriend of Tony’s, a showgirl named Dolores LaMarr, who sent him what seems like a blackmail letter. Tony is set to marry a socialite and wants Pel to talk to her to see what she’s after and to avert by friendly means her ruining his chances with his classy fiancee. It turns out that Dolores is really Rena Maroni (Tonia Bern), whose father is the circus owner who gave Pel his first job. She tells Pel a hard luck story of a squabble with her father and running away to London broke, and changing her name while seeing Tony. It turns out the confused temperamental woman doesn’t want to blackmail Tony, but just end the relationship (I guess she must be a bad letter writer or Tony a bad reader for her intentions to not be clear). As a coincidence, Sapolio lives in the same building a floor below. Pel invites her to attend a party celebration that Sapolio is giving that evening for his circus freak friends to celebrate his latest gig, entertainers she has known all her life. When Sapolio returns from buying groceries, he sees in the dark hallway but does not recognize a man entering Rena’s apartment. The man, theatrical agent Henry Stanton (Geoffrey Keen), known by the showbiz crowd as Uncle Harry the “greatest heart in show business,” is Rena’s secret lover, and strangles her to death when she says she wants to break off their relationship. The murder is investigated by the Irish brogue speaking Inspector Lindley (Liam Redmond), who after several murders and a kidnapping sets a trap for the killer. The police use a detective as a decoy, as the starving man had been poisoned to death but a story was planted in the newspapers that says he’s still alive but in a coma and will still be on view to paying customers in his glass tomb.
REVIEWED ON 11/4/2008 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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