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GREEN FOR DANGER (director/writer: Sidney Gilliat; screenwriter: from the novel by Christianna Brand; cinematographer: Wilkie Cooper; editor: Thelma Myers; music: William Alwyn; cast: Sally Gray (Nurse Frederica ‘Freddie’ Linley), Trevor Howard (Dr. Barney Barnes), Rosamund John (Nurse Esther Sanson), Megs Jenkins (Nurse Woods), Alastair Sim (Inspector Cockrill), Leo Genn (Dr. Eden), Judy Campbell (Sister Marion Bates), George Woodbridge (Detective Sergeant Hendricks), Ronald Adam (Dr. White), Moore Marriott (Joe Higgins); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sidney Gilliat/Frank Launder; Criterion Collection; 1946-UK)
“Loved this first-rate Brit whodunit that’s set in an emergency cottage hospital during WWII.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Loved this first-rate Brit whodunit that’s set in an emergency cottage hospital during WWII. It might be the best film from producers Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. It’s based on the novel by Christianna Brand and written by director Sidney Gilliat.

Postman Joe Higgins (Moore Marriott) has a minor operation for a fracture at Heron’s Park hospital and dies while being put under at the operating table. The new hospital head, Dr. White (Ronald Adam), is worried about an inquest and his reputation more than he is about the victim. At the hospital dance that night, an hysterical nurse, Sister Marion Bates (Judy Campbell), stops the gramophone and announces that the postman’s death was no accident but was murder and runs out of the building. Bates is soon found stabbed to death on the grounds while dressed in an operating gown. Eccentric Scotland Yard inspector Cockrill (Alastair Sim) is called in to investigate and announces that there were two murders and the suspects are the three nurses and two doctors who were in the operating theater with Higgins. The five are: the womanizing surgeon Dr. Eden (Leo Genn); the second time an inquest was held for him over the death of a patient, the anesthesiologist Dr. Barney Barnes (Trevor Howard); the one with a past secret whose voice frightened the postman before the procedure, nurse Woods (Megs Jenkins); the one on the verge of a nervous breakdown over her mother’s death, nurse Esther Sanson (Rosamund John); and the pretty one who that night broke her engagement with Barnes and was seen kissing Eden, nurse Freddie Linley (Sally Gray). The inspector warns that there are missing poison tablets from the medicine cabinet and the killer will strike again at one of them if feeling threatened and orders them to only confide vital info to him. The inspector is right and soon another one of the five finds their life in danger.

Despite its weird explanation for why the killer struck, which was more bewildering than revealing, the mystery story was just deliciously entertaining with telling tales about the suspect characters and their love life, all guilty of something, which is seamlessly mixed with serious sleuthing. There’s also a wonderfully maddening droll comic performance by Sim, taking great pleasure in getting under the skin of all the suspects.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”