Home To Danger (1951)
Just before director Terence Fisher cemented his place in the hearts of fantasy film lovers due to his association with Hammer Films Studios he helmed a selection of Noir based thrillers including Blackout and Man Bait.
For Eros Films, he handles the camera duties while actress Rona Anderson returns home to England after a long estrangement from her recently deceased father. He may have taken his own life but his death was ruled an accidental overdose. Moving quickly at 65 minutes Rona is ushered into the lawyer’s office for the reading of the will. It’s here she’ll meet her father’s long time business partner played by Francis Lister and her would be suitor, Guy Rolfe.
In an act of forgiveness, her father has left her his estate and business holdings. Lister doesn’t look happy. A red herring? Another one is about to turn up when she is clearly followed by a nefarious looking thug that Lister apparently recognizes.
Once she arrives back at the sedate looking family home in the English country side, the mystery surrounding her father’s death intensifies when Stanley Baker as a somewhat simple minded grounds keeper tells Rona of her father’s final words before his death. “It’s in the safe at the office.” Admittedly, Mr. Baker was my motivation for taking a look at this film from his early years. Here he plays the dimwitted guardian of Rona with a Boris Karloff flare in his eyes matched with an unruly mop of hair.
If you watch the credits closely at the films opening you’ll notice the tag that “Sporting Guns supplied by E.J. Churchill LTD.” They’ll be needed as a hunt has been arranged down by the marshes near the estate. Duck hunting is the intended sport but when a body turns up the local police are called in. Rona and her guests including Lister and Rolfe are detained along with the hired help to remain on the grounds while the investigation continues.
When Rona takes Rolfe into her confidence things are going to progress rather quickly as the duo become amateur sleuths trying to unravel the mysteries that Baker continues to hint at. Dark alleys, safe cracking and more bodies are sure to turn up during the proceedings including the ultimate sacrifice made by one of our leading players.
Home to Danger presents a fast moving thriller with an ending right out of Baskerville hall. I’d encourage you to give it a look for both the entertainment value presented and the chance to see a just getting started Stanley Baker.
Fans of A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim may recall Rona Anderson from appearing in that film which was released the same year as this tale of murder and greed. She went on to a lengthy career in English television. Mr. Rolfe also would appear in numerous projects in the coming years including the big budget Ivanhoe in ’52 and the Hammer title Yesterday’s Enemy once again opposite the by then leading man Stanley Baker.
This title is nicely matched in a set of British thrillers including a noteworthy gem titled No Trace thanks to a collection from VCI.