Model for Murder (1959) | There’s mayhem in Mayfair in the vintage heist thriller starring Michael Gough and Hazel Court
While on shore leave in England, American sailor David Martens (Keith Andes) seeks out his late brother’s fiancée, London fashion model, Diana (Julia Arnall), to return an engagement present of a ruby bracelet. But after Diana is murdered, David becomes the prime suspect in the theft of £60,000 worth of diamonds being held at the Mayfair fashion house of stylist Kingsley Beauchamp (Michael Gough).
With the police unwilling to believe his story, David seeks out smitten fashion assistant Sally Meadows (Hazel Court), her model sister Annabelle (Jean Aubrey), and fashion photographer George (Peter Hammond) to help him prove that Kingsley’s chauffeur Costard (Edwin Richfield) was behind both the murder and the theft. But what David doesn’t realise is the real mastermind is Kingsley himself, or that he’s planning on fleeing to Amsterdam with jewels…
Death, diamonds and double-dealings take to the London catwalk in 1959’s Model for Murder, an Edgar Wallace-styled B murder mystery, amiably directed by Terry Bishop (who was best known for his 1950’s historic dramas William Tell and Robin Hood), and the second feature produced by Jack Parsons – who’d go on to make some classic genre fare, including Don Sharp’s Witchcraft and The Curse of the Fly, Terence Fisher’s The Earth Dies Screaming, and Gordon Hessler’s Catacombs.
Apart from one very atmospheric and noir-esque murder scene, this British Lion thriller is pretty standard fare, and is saved only by the stalwart acting and occasional comic touches (especially Annabel Maule’s hospital sister and Charles Lamb’s lock keeper).
The legendary Michael Gough (who followed this film with Horrors at the Black Museum) chews the scenery big-time as camp villain Kingsley Beauchamp and makes his catty dialogue purr: ‘I find me much more fascinating’ and ‘Sometimes one has to be vulgar for publicity’, being among my favourites.
Meanwhile, an overly-cheery Hazel Court (fresh from Brian Clemens’ A Woman of Mystery and in between making her two best known British horrors, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Man Who Could Cheat Death) makes an engaging heroine, while US import Keith Andes cuts a believable hero. Together they come off like a mini-league Nick and Nora Charles.
The supporting cast, meanwhile, may not be household names, but they certainly have some cool credits behind them, including Patricia Jessel (Horror Hotel), Edwin Richfield (Five Million Years to Earth), Alfred Burke (Harry Potter), Richard Pearson (Wind in the Willows) and Barbara Archer (Dracula).
Chertsey Lock, near Staines, Middlesex, is the setting for a key scene in which Diana’s body is discovered (thanks to Kingsley’s siamese cat), while Sally and Annabelle’s Kensington flat (at 14 Ashburn Gardens) is where David recovers after almost being gassed to death by the dastardly Costard.
THE UK DVD RELEASE
Model for Murder is presented in a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio, as part of Network Distributing’s The British Film collection. The only extras are an image gallery and promotional material (pdf).
Posted on April 26, 2015, in British Film, Might See, Might-See, Thriller and tagged 1950s British thriller, British Lion, Chertsey Lock, Edgar Wallace, Jack Parsons, Michael Gough, Might See, Model for Murder, Network Distributing, Nick and Nora Charles, Terry Bishop, The British Film, Thriller. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.