The Law of Contact

The Avenging Hand (1936)

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The Avenging Hand

Released in 1936: A Chicago gangster heads to London for a vacation, and teaches the Brits in a classy hotel how to solve a murder before he's finished.

Directed by Victor Hanbury and Frank Richardson

The Actors: Noah Beery (Lee Barwell), Louis Borel (Pierre Charrell), Kathleen Kelly (Gwen Taylor), Charles Oliver (Reginald Long), Tarva Penna (Conrad Colter), Penelope Parkes (Elizabeth), Billie De la Volta (Muriel), James Harcourt (Sam Hupp), Fred Bush (hotel manager), Joan Kemp-Welch (Madame Ambrosia), Henry B. Longhurst (streeter), Bela Mila (Mrs. Penworthy), Bruno Barnabe (waiter), Sydney Benson (cockney), Alan Keith (receptionist), Ben Welden (Slug Clarke), Ben Wright (lift boy).

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When I was a little kid my father got me interested in detective mystery books that he had enjoyed as a youngster about two teen brothers who solved crimes. I eagerly read every Hardy Boys Mystery that I could find at the library, and with my great imagination it was not difficult to think that I also could solve any crime mystery, given enough clues. As a young adult I still enjoyed detectives, and one of my all time favorites was The Rockford Files, with James Garner, one of my favorite actors. And one of the characters in the Rockford Files is Noah Beery Jr., who played papa Rockford, a retired truck driver. Noah Beery Jr. had a famous actor father, Noah Beery, who stars in this British detective murder mystery.

The key to this mystery is a smell - a perfume that our gangster smells in the room of a freshly murdered man. This movie probably couldn't be made today, because as a rule, people don't 'smell' any more. When I was a young man, the day always started with a fresh shave, followed by a splash of Aqua Velva after shave smelly stuff, and then maybe a dab of some male cologne like English Leather. And gifts for my young wife were easy to select . . . she could always use a bottle of fine perfume - maybe Chanel #5, or other popular scent of the day. No lady would venture out into the day without a proper application of some good ole smelly stuff applied to certain spots. But these days it is rare to encounter anyone that wears anything that provides a scent that might be smelled across the room. I remember as a child the fresh scent of Prell hair shampoo. I could always tell when my sister Carol washed her hair, because even the morning after her shampoo I could smell the Prell in the air when she would come downstairs for breakfast. Today we search out laundry detergents and other household items that are designed to have no scent, because today so many of us seem to be 'allergic' to heavy scents, and we all try to smell like nothing. But in 1936 everyone had their own unique smells, and that is how Chicago gangster Noah Beery discovers the killer of a drunken pencil seller that he befriended in London. Pop your white kernel popcorn and get ready to smell your way to the killer and a fortune of stolen loot in this excellent British New Year's Eve murder mystery.

Noah BeeryJames Harcourt
Noah BeeryJames Harcourt
Kathleen KellyFred Bush and Alan Keith
Kathleen KellyFred Bush and Alan Keith
James Harcourt and Reginald LongKathleen Kelly and Louis Borel
James Harcourt and Reginald LongKathleen Kelly and Louis Borel
Fred Bush and Alan Keith and Noah BeeryNoah Beery and Bobby
Fred Bush, Alan Keith and Noah BeeryNoah Beery and a London Bobby
Noah Beery and Charles OliverReginald Long and Louis Borel
Noah Beery smells Charles OliverReginald Long and Charles Oliver
Tarva Penna and Penelope Parkes
Tarva Penna and Penelope Parkes