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SO LONG AT THE FAIR (directors: Terence Fisher/Antony Darnborough; screenwriters: Hugh Mills/Anthony Thorne/based on a novel by Anthony Thorne; cinematographer: Reginald Wyer; editor: Gordon Hales; music: Benjamin Frankel; cast: Jean Simmons (Vicky Barton), Dirk Bogarde (George Hathaway), David Tomlinson (Johnny Barton), Marcel Poncin (Narcisse), Cathleen Nesbitt (Madame Herve), Honor Blackman (Rhoda O’Donovan), Betty Warren (Mrs. O’Donovan), Andr√© Morell(Dr. Hart), Austin Trevor (Police Commissaire), Felix Aylmer(British Consul), Eugene Deckers(Porter), Nelly Arno(Madame Verni), Zena Marshall(Nina); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Betty E. Box/Sydney Box/Vivian Cox; United Artists; 1950-UK)
An oddball thriller.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An oddball thriller, much like the plot device in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938), which is codirected by Terence Fisher (“The Brides of Dracula”/”The Man Who Could Cheat Death“/”Mummy”) and Antony Darnborough (“The Astonished Heart“) in an effective workmanlike way. It’s based on a novel by Anthony Thorne and is written by Hugh Mills and Thorne, who keep the first half eerily suspenseful and then change gears and let it become more like your conventional amateur sleuth film. It never goes off into the macabre, as one would expect in a Fisher film.

Britishers Vicky Barton (Jean Simmons) and her brother Johnny (David Tomlinson) are on a long vacation, and leave Naples to arrive in Paris for the 1896 Paris Exhibition. They take separate rooms in a hotel and on their first night on the town take in the sights of gay Paris, with Johnny retiring early because he feels ill. The next morning Vicky discovers her older brother is missing. Told by the sinister hotel owners, a brother and sister (Marcel Poncin & Cathleen Nesbitt), that her brother never registered in the hotel and that there’s no trace of his room, a distraught Vicky goes first to the British consul and then the Paris police. Both say they can’t act until they have proof her brother was there and vanished, as they are polite but come short of saying they don’t believe her. Finally a crushed Vicky gets a break, as the confident ex-pat British artist George Hathaway (Dirk Bogarde) knows her brother exists because he lent him money for cab fare that night. They team up to go sleuthing together, and finally uncover the strange truth (which turns out to be a bizarre but plausible reason for the crime) and begin a likely romance.

It kept my attention throughout, as the mystery is sustained until the conclusion.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”