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Saturday Night Cinema: The Clouded Yellow

5

Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema is the British thriller The Clouded Yellow, starring the ravishing yet refined Jean Simmons playing opposite the brilliant English actor, Trevor Howard. Directed by Ralph Thomas and produced by Betty E. Box for Carillon Films.

“A first-rate job of fast film-making in a crisp, naturalistic style, up and down the actual face of England, has been accomplished by all hands.”

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In this thriller, an introverted and fragile young woman is framed for murder by her evil guardians who try to convince her that she murdered their handyman. She believes them. The police seem to believe them too; the girl is arrested. A recently fired Secret Service agent comes to her rescue, and she escapes from jail. They head for the harbor where they plan to stow away on a departing ship. The police know about this and trail the two. Unbeknownst to them, the police know that she is innocent. They are hoping the real killers will follow her. Sure enough the real killers, her psychotic guardians appear and trouble ensues.

THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; ‘The Clouded Yellow,’ Mystery Thriller From England, New Feature at Park Avenue
By Bosley Crowther, New York Times
Published: November 13, 1951

Those who adored the sort of thrillers that Alfred Hitchcock made in England in the Nineteen Thirties and those who just love a good “chase” film should not miss “The Clouded yellow,” which came to the Park Avenue yesterday. For this modestly heralded British picture, which Betty E. Box produced, with the beautiful Jean Simmons and the able Trevor Howard in principal roles, is one of those top-drawer melodramas, charged with mystery and atmosphere, that goes careening through endlesss tight places while moving with the velocity of a train.

Like most of the classier British thrillers, this one breathes the serene authority of high-level governmental business, with a touch of the esoteric thrown in. Its hero is a secret service agent, cashiered for reasons unknown, who goes to live in the beautiful English country with a butterfly fancier whose pretty niece is allegedly daft. And because of his very special knowledge, not so much of butterflies as of all the underground machinery whereby spies and criminals make their escapes, he is in a superior position to match wits with the pursuing police when it comes to helping this young lady flee from a threatening murder charge.

Needless to say, the young lady is neither daft nor guilty of the charge. It is obvious that her aunt, the wife of the fancier, is bent upon “framing” her of both. But this background is merely motivation to launch the fugitives and justify the “chase.” It is the flight of the ex-secret agent and the girl he is helping that fills this film.

And what a flight! It goes first to London, then to Newcastle-on-Tyne, then to the beautiful Lake country” and then to Liverpool, twisting in clever maneuvers, just one jump ahead of the police. And what makes it so fascinating is that the hero’s old secret service pals, who can guess at his shrewd and expert planning, are masterminding the chase.

True to the code of reviewers, we shan’t tell you how it ends— whether the young folks make it or who did the bloody deed. This we will tell you, however: true to the code of such films, it ends with as fearful and vertiginous a climax as anyone could wish. And that is because Miss Simmons, who makes a beautifully muddled heroine, lushly feminine in her dark distraction, is lined-up for a particularly grisly doom when—hold on here! No more information! The rest you will have to see.

To Mr. Howard as the secret agent, much credit for a sharp performance is due. “He knows more ways in and out of this country than a carrier pigeon,” as someone says. But Barry Jones is equally incisive in the briefer role of the uncle of the girl and Sonia Dresdel, the mean housekeeper of “The Fallen Idol,” is malefic as the aunt. Andre Morell as a chief of secret agents tops the competent and colorful array of officials, police and shady people that add to the flavor of the film.

But the greater share of credit is reserved for Janet Green, who wrote the script; Ralph Thomas, who directed, and Miss Box, who produced. A first-rate job of fast film-making in a crisp, naturalistic style, up and down the actual face of England, has been accomplished by all hands.

THE CLOUDED YELLOW, original story and screen play by Janet Green; directed by Ralph Thomas; produced by Betty E. Box. A Betty E. Box Independent Production, presented by J. Arthur Rank and released here by Columbia Pictures. At the Park Avenue Theatre.
Sophie Malraux . . . . . Jean Simmons
David Somers . . . . . Trevor Howard
Jess Fenton . . . . . Sonia Dresdel
Nicholas Fenton . . . . . Barry Jones
Hick . . . . . Maxwell Reed
Willy . . . . . Kenneth More
Chubb . . . . . Andre Morell
Karl . . . . . Gerard Heinz
Minna . . . . . Lilly Kann
Police Inspector . . . . . Geoffrey Keen
Superintendent Ross . . . . . Michael Brennan
Greek Taxidermist . . . . . Eric Pohlmann
Kyra . . . . . Sandra Dorne
Addie . . . . . Gabrielle Blunt
Chinese Bookie . . . . . K. C. Ooi
Maid . . . . . Marianne Stone

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