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Saturday, June 1, 2013

THE HOUR OF 13 (1952)

This little B-pic has a lot going for it. M-G-M, with cash tied up in Great Britain, made a number of films with great below-the-line talent hired at bargain prices. Here, lenser Guy Green, art director Alfred Junge and a Richard Addison score pump up production values, while, above-the-line, featured actors Roland Culver & Michael Hordern raise the acting bar. There’s even a nifty storyline, refitted from an old Robert Montgomery vehicle (THE MYSTERY OF MR. X/’34 - never out on video) about a suave jewel thief who can’t cash in on his latest caper because the gorgeous emerald that’s burning a hole in his pocket is also the main clue in a deadly series of cop killings. (A bit like M-G-M in England, forced to sit on its assets.) But, like a flawed stone in a fancy setting, the film falls flat due to sloppy story construction and charmless perfs from leads Peter Lawford & Dawn Addams. Director Harold French may have noticed the lack of chemistry too, since, after staging a swell fight to the finish, he doesn’t bother to sort out the romance at the Fade-Out.

 DOUBLE-BILL: Speaking of charming art thieves, whatever happened to the Coen Brothers remake of GAMBIT/'12?  Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz & Alan Rickman in a Straight-to-Video release?

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