SOUTH OF SUEZ. Warner Brothers, 1940. George Brent, Brenda Marshall, George Tobias, Lee Patrick, Eric Blore, Miles Mander. Director: Lewis Seiler.

   The title makes this movie sound as though it were another pre-War Egyptian spy adventure, but not so. The geography is right, more or less, but a title something like “The Middle of Tanganyika” just wouldn’t attract anybody to the box office. And it’s really not a spy adventure, either, but rather a murder mystery than begins in the diamond fields of central Africa and ends in a British court, back in England. It is there that the main protagonist, played by George Brent, due to a deliberate case of false identity, is on trial for killing himself. Only two people know that, though, himself and an eye witness who saw another murder done, back in Africa.

   How did Brent’s characters get mixed up in such a mess? That’s a good question, and how he managed to do it is the best part of this otherwise mostly mediocre mystery movie. It’s all for the love of a girl, however, as you may have guessed, but Brent’s typically low key performance doesn’t rise even halfway to the occasion, that being the hand of Brenda Marshall, with whom he has only a modicum of chemistry.

   George Tobias is terrific as the near-sighted villain of the drama, but there is very little I found in this film to suggest any kind of motivation for Lee Patrick, who plays his wife, to do any of the strange things she does.