BLACK ORCHID. General Film Distributors/Kenilworth Film Productions, UK, 1953. Ronald Howard, Olga Edwardes, John Bentley, Mary Laura Wood, Patrick Barr, Sheila Burrell, Russell Napier. Director: Charles Saunders.

   Other than the leading man, Ronald Howard, on occasion known as Sherlock Holmes, the cast consisted of total unknowns to me, but this 60 minute detective thriller, within its limited range, made for an hour’s worth of good watching time. Not only that, I now know the names of two lady players to look out for in the future.

   In Black Orchid, Howard plays a research doctor whose marriage to a society class wife (Mary Laura Wood) is crumbling, and when the woman’s sister (Olga Edwardes) finds his medical research as fascinating as he does, he finds the attraction mutual. Divorce proceedings quickly ensue, but marriage unfortunately does not. It seems as though there was a law in England at the time forbidding men from marrying sisters of divorced wives.

   Until they die. The divorced wives, that is. You can guess what happens next, the police being prodded on by the dead woman’s devoted maid (Sheila Burrell). One clue to attest to the doctor’s innocence is, and maybe you can guess this, too, is a black orchid.

   The satisfaction you can get from watching small compact thrillers such as Black Orchid depends a great deal on your willingness to accept small jumps in logic and a certain trust in the fact that coincidences do happen. Set those aside, and you may have, as I say, a nifty little detective drama on your hands.