THE DIAMOND WIZARD. United Artists, US/UK, 1954. Released as The Diamond in the UK. Dennis O’Keefe, Philip Friend, Margaret Sheridan, Alan Wheatley, Francis De Wolff, Paul Hartmuth. Screenplay: John C. Higgins. Story Dennis O’Keefe, based on the novel Rich Is the Treasure (1952) by Maurice Procter. Directed by Dennis O’Keefe & Montgomery Tully.


   When a US Treasury agent is killed by British smugglers who have stolen a million dollars, a perfect diamond is found in his mouth. Perfect except for one thing — it’s artificial; and perfect artificial diamonds are a threat to both the British and American economies.

   So Treasury Man Joe Dennison (Dennis O’Keefe) is dispatched to England to team up with Special Branch’s Inspector Hector ‘Mac’ McClaren (Philip Friend) to track down the smuggler (Francis De Wolff) who is using a million dollars in stolen money to buy the artificial diamonds.

   The case gets more complex when lovely Marline Miller (Margaret Sheridan) shows up. She’s the niece of nuclear physicist Dr. Miller (Paul Hartmuth) who has gone missing — and once a romantic connection for Dennison.

   Following a handful of clues the police begin to tie the two cases together ending in an explosive climax somewhere between Edgar Wallace and Ian Fleming as they uncover something more sinister than flooding the diamond market afoot.

   This little film, directed by O’Keefe during a brief period when he fled to England like many other American actors of the period, is nothing new or great, but entertaining and loosely based on a novel by British mystery writer Maurice Procter, itself expanded from a novella “The Million Pound Note.” (Proctor is best known for his series of Inspector Harry Martineau police procedural novels.) The thrills are of the standard variety, but well enough done.

   There’s the usual master criminal, the usual mad scientists, some nasty thugs, and two tough honest cops. The difference between the American and British police style is played as complimentary rather than conflicting, and the scenes of the artificial diamonds being created have the nice SF touch of the kind that used to dominate German Expressionist cinema.

   This is an entertaining little film, not much more than a programmer, but coming in at 83 minutes it moves nicely and never really slows down for a breather. O’Keefe probably got the inspiration for this from his American film Walk a Crooked Mile (1948; Gordon Douglas, dir.) teaming him with Louis Hayward, with the latter the Scotland Yard man out of place in the US.