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Comments on old movies from an old and passionate guy

"Mr. Denning Drives North" - British Murder Mystery Thriller
released on January 21, 1952

The Actors: John Mills (Tom Denning), Phyllis Calvert (Kay Denning), Eileen Moore (Liz Denning), Sam Wanamaker (Chick Eddowes), Herbert Lom (Victor Mados), Raymond Huntley (Wright), Russell Waters (Harry Stoper), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Albert Woods, mortuary attendant), Freda Jackson (Ma Smith), Trader Faulkner (Ted Smith), Sheila Shand Gibbs (Matilda Smith), Bernard Lee (Inspector Dodds), Michael Shepley (Chairman of Court), Ronald Adam (coroner), John Stuart (Wilson the butler), Hugh Morton (Inspector Snell), David Davies (chauffeur), Ambrosine Phillpotts (Miss Blade), Herbert Walton (Yardley), John Stevens (first patrolman), Lyn Evans (Mr. Fisher), John Warren (Mr. Ash), Raymond Francis (clerk of court), Edward Evans (second patrolman), Denise Aylmer (unknown), Madge Brindley (Gypsy), Sam Kydd (unknown), Harry Terry (Gypsy)

Catching a Killer

Mr. Denning Drives NorthI have watched a good number of murder mysteries with twisted plots that try to confuse, befuddle, and keep me wondering how everything will turn out . . . But this thriller . . . Yes, in the quiet, understated British fashion, this is a heart-throbbing thriller . . . This murder thriller made me breathless with anticipation so many times that I am in complete awe of the author, and quite worn out. While I watch a movie that I haven't seen before I am thinking about the teaser title that I will use when I write my blurb about the story, and I quickly got confused even about how to promote this tale of terror. Some of the lines that I considered are: The Mistake in the Letter . . . The Eagle on White Enamel . . . Finding Ma Smith . . . The Body in the Ditch . . . The Chicago Lawyer and the British Inspector . . . The Mute Gypsy . . . On and on it went . . . At every plot turn I thought that here, finally was the turning point in the story that would unravel the web of deceit that our leading man got himself into . . . Yes, the leading man is our killer . . . And he isn't a crazed monster, but rather the wealthy British owner of an airplane factory and a respected family man. He accidentally murdered a scoundrel who had intentions for his lovely young daughter, and in defending her honor he punched the fellow in the jaw knocking him down and hitting his head on the fireplace. Instead of calling the police and explaining that it was an accident, he wants to continue protecting his daughter's honor and decides to put the body in the boot of his car (the trunk of his car for us Colonials) and drive it North of London into the countryside and dump it along the road in a ditch, after removing any identifying articles of clothing and jewelry from the dead man. Of course, he isn't a practiced killer, and we watch him make mistake after mistake, and we wonder which mistake will lead Inspector Dodd to the realization that the dead man was murdered by our leading man . . . and we wonder . . . and we guess . . . and our heart stops each time he comes to the brink of being discovered . . . and once again he escapes being discovered . . . Until there comes one moment when we have decided that this is it . . . He will be revealed to the world as a killer . . . Or maybe there is even more suspense ahead . . . I think that we'd better just pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

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Make them laugh, make them cry, and back to laughter. What do people want to go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise . . . Mary Pickford

Some of my Favorites:

William Powell and Carole LombardProbably my all time favorite movie, My Man Godfrey in 1936 not only gives us an comedic peek at the wealthiest and poorest during the Great Depression, but also was the vehicle for Carole Lombard to create the movie icon of the 'dumb blonde screwball comedy' that is a popular theme even today.

Barbara Stanwyck and Gary CooperMeet John Doe - 1941: The Frank Capra classic set in the Great Depression era that pits the common man against the political masters. You can't be a fan of old movies until you watch Frank Capra's old movies. This one premiered seventy years ago, and it still stirs our emotions and thoughts now. It is as timely as if it were produced today.

John Wayne and Gail Russell in Angel and the Bad ManAngel and the Bad Man - 1947: One of the great teachers of the Secret Law of Attraction is Dr. Joe Vitale . . . but before he was even born actor John Wayne paid for and produced this Cowboy Western that featured The Law of Attraction.

James Cagney in The Time of Your LifeThe Time of Your Life - 1948: James Cagney financed this strangely different feel-good movie, and he plays the part of Joe, a barfly that tries to live his life by making everyone around him better. I watch this one often, and try to become more like Joe every day.

Joe E. Brown in Painted FacesPainted Faces - 1929: Comedy legend Joe E. Brown is a circus clown in a surprisingly serious role as a juror in a Christmas week murder trial who tells the other jurors a story that will change their verdicts in a pre-code drama that could not have been made a few years later.

Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in CharadeCharade - 1963: It doesn't get much better than Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in a tale of death, deception, spies and lost wealth as a woman tries to sort out the good guys from the bad guys in this cold-war spy thriller love story.

Thanks largely to Ted Turner and his purchase of the movies from MGM, United Artists and pre-1950 movies from Warner Brothers, those motion pictures are not in danger if disappearing, and should live forever on the Turner Classic Movie cable television channel. Unfortunately many of the movies from smaller motion picture companies have already disappeared and become almost impossible to find and enjoy. Many of these movies are in the public domain, and without an 'owner' to preserve them are becoming more and more rare. This web site is a labor of love by one passionate old movie buff with the goal of sharing public domain movies with the world so that they can live on with new generations of fans. If you find an error or factual mistake, please use the contact page to let me know so that I can correct it for everyone else. This web site celebrates the efforts of every actor - not just the stars - because like a grand stew, each actor adds a unique flavor to the film, and without any of them the movie would not be the same. If you are one of these actors, or a friend or family member of an actor, please send me any anecdotes and stories that you know about any of them, and I will gladly add them to the site to enrich our knowledge about that actor or the movie they played in.