Sat 3 Dec 2011
THE VICIOUS CIRCLE. Romulus Films, 1957. Also released as The Circle. John Mills, Derek Farr, Noelle Middleton, Wilfrid Hyde White, Roland Culver, Mervyn Johns, Rene Ray, Lionel Jeffries. Screenplay: Francis Durbridge, based on his BBC-TV serial, My Friend Charles. [See comment #1.] Director: Gerald Thomas.
This is one of those movies in which the hero, in this case Dr. Howard Latimer (John Miles), finds himself trapped in a series of strange events that culminate in his being the number one suspect in a case of murder. This time around, the dead girl is an actress from Germany that a producer friend (just in from the US) asks him to pick up at the airport.
Accompanying him to the airport is a newspaper reporter who (as it turns out) the paper never heard of, nor is the producer even in the country. The dead girl is in Latimer’s apartment when he returns later.
How and why? He has no idea. Not helping either is the patient who’s been referred to him by another doctor (who has never seen her), but who complains not only of migraines but also of dreams involving a body and a brass candlestick.
Two guesses what the blunt instrument was that caused the death of the woman in his apartment? Or in whose car it is found?
This is also one of those movies that is too complicated for its own good. There is an attempt to explain all this, and it’s a pretty good attempt too, until the movie’s over and you wonder what on earth were you thinking?
One large problem is that it is clear that the detective from Scotland Yard, Detective Inspector Dane (Roland Culver), does not take the case against Dr. Latimer all that seriously, alleviating most of the suspense. Either Cornell Woolrich (author) or Alfred Hitchcock (director) or the combination thereof, could have taken the first 20 minutes and run for a mile with it.
Since neither of the two were on hand, all we have is a mildly amusing puzzle to undo, nothing more, but nothing less, either. All the players are professionals, even if relatively unknown in this country, then or now.