SECRET PARTNER, THE(director/writer: Basil Dearden; screenwriters: David Pursall/Jack Seddon; cinematographer: Harry Waxman; editor: Ray Poulton; cast: Stewart Granger (John Brent), Haya Harareet (Nicole Brent), Bernard Lee (Detective Superintendent Hanbury), Norman Bird (Dr. Ralph Beldon), Hugh Burden (Charles Standish), Lee Montague (Detective Inspector Tom Henderson), Melissa Stribling (Helen Standish), Conrad Phillips (Dr. Alan Richford), John Lee (Clive Lang); Runtime: 91; MGM; 1961-UK)
“Full of surprises.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An atmospheric, thrilling whodunit, full of surprises. It’s fast-paced, and is well-acted. John Brent (Stewart Granger) is a top executive in a shipping company whose wife Nicole (Haya Harareet) has dramatically left him in front of his house guests — executive coworker Charles Standish (Hugh Burden) and his wife Helen (Stribling). She claims he must have another woman, as he is having financial difficulties. But it’s also clear she’s fooling around with her interior decorator, Clive Lang (John Lee), and with the medical doctor at the shipping company, Dr. Alan Richford (Phillips).
Brent’s financial difficulties continue because he’s being blackmailed by a sleazy looking, alcoholic dentist, Ralph Beldon (Bird). He was a prison dentist when Brent served time as John Wilson and he doesn’t want his shipping company to know that, therefore he continues to pay the blackmail.
The plot gets twisted when the dentist is visited by a mysterious hooded stranger, with a disguised voice, who threatens him by telling him to follow orders or else. The mystery man relates that he knows he’s blackmailing Brent; he offers him big money if he gets Brent under sedation of a truth serum to reveal the combination to his company’s safe and to also get an impression of the key he has to the room where the safe is kept. Things become complex in a Hitchcockian way when the heist works and $130,000 is robbed.
Superintendent Frank Hanbury (Bernard Lee) is soon to retire turning over his job to his assistant, Tom Henderson (Montague), and he wants to make his swan song clean–leaving no loose ends. But the case puzzles him as all the clues so easily point to Brent, it’s as if the ex-con has been framed.
But this is not a simple heist. The complexity of the case made for a diverting mystery tale, as the fun is in trying to unravel who pulled off the heist and who is the secret partner.
REVIEWED ON 9/14/2001 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ