Saturday Night Cinema: Green for Danger

Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema is the quintessential British murder mystery, Green For Danger. Starring Alastair Sim and Trevor Howard, the 1947 film takes place in World War II emergency hospital. A postman dies under anesthetic during a relatively minor operation. One of the nurses who was present announces that the man’s death was no accident, but a murder — and then she, too, is murdered.

I love bringing to Atlas these little cinematic gems, rarely seen and screened even less.

Green for Danger (1947)

‘ Green for Danger,’ New British Mystery, With Alastair Sim as Detective, Bill at Winter Garden — Musical at the Globe

Published: August 8, 1947

The British have sent over another humdinger of a baffler in “Green For Danger,” which settled down yesterday at the Winter Garden for what should turn out to be a comfortable stay. Once again the director-producer combination of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder have laid deftly humorous hands on the subject of murder. And, while they manage to keep the spectator chuckling most of the time, they never for a moment lose sight of a mystery film’s prime purpose—that is, to intrigue and startle the onlooker.

What more could one ask? In the case of “Green For Danger” one could reasonably request just a bit more justification for the solution, which, truth to tell, is bewildering. The story unfolds in the form of a report by a Scotland Yard Inspector to his superior anent a series of murders that happened in the hospital at Heron’s Park between buzz bomb attacks.

This Inspector Cockrill is the most engaging detective the screen has had since Nick Charles was young. He’s a bumptious creature all right, but not overbearing, for the angular Alastair Sim plays him with just the right touch of sardonic wit and an air of casual authority that is altogether captivating.

The interrogation of an operating room staff by Cockrill after the mysterious death of a patient while being anaesthetized and the subsequent murder in the operating room of the head nurse after she claims to know the patient did not die accidentally is a delightfully gruesome bit of business. Cockrill’s bland accusations set the five witnesses to suspecting each other, with consequences that are best left unmentioned here.

Through the tangled skein of the (mystery runs a three-cornered romance of better than average interest involving two of the doctors and a pretty nurse. These roles are (well performed by Trevor Howard, Leo Genn and Sally Gray, and Rosamund John brings conviction to the part of a nurse whose nerves are at the breaking point.

“Green For Danger” will give the aisleside sleuths a better workout than they have had for months and it also will rest easily with those who are content just to sit back and let the story resolve itself, for the melodrama is nicely spiced with dry humor.
GREEN FOR DANGER, screen play by Sidney Gilliat and Claude Guerney based on the novel by Christiana Brand; directed and produced by Frank Launder and Mr. Gilliat; an Individual Picture presented by J. Arthur Rank and released here by Eagle-Lion Films. At the Winter Garden.
Nurse Freddi Linley . . . . . Sally Gray
Dr. Barnes . . . . . Trevor Howard
Nurse Sanson . . . . . Rosamund John
Inspector Cockrill . . . . . Alastair Sim
Mr. Eden . . . . . Leo Genn
Nurse Woods . . . . . Megs Jenkins
Sister Bates . . . . . Judy Campbell
Postman Higgins . . . . . Moore Marriott

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