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Post War Great Britain: An US-American Air Force Major, Bill Rogers
(Dan Duryea), has persuaded his friends in the force to smuggle him into
the UK so he can spend a little time (the titular 36 hours) with his wife
Katie (Elsie Albiin), whom he had to leave behind when he had to return to
the USa for a year for special training. He finds his wife has swapped
apartment though and now seems to be living the high life, has maybe even
become a prostitute, but once he meets eye to eye with her, he is knocked
out from behind, and when he comes to, he finds her murdered, and by his
gun that's still in his hand, too.
Without having done anything, Rogers
sudenly finds himself on the run, and the only person willing to help him
is Jenny (Gudrun Ure) who works for the local mission and who for some
reason believes he is innocent.
Rogers finds out that Katie had worked
for customs agent Orville Hart (John Chandos) - and not as a prostitute as
he initially thought -, and that she might have stored some evidence away
in a bank locker ... and for some reason, Hart is a little too keen on
getting his hands on the evidence. Ultimately it turns out that Hart is a
blackmailer in cahoots with diamond smuggler Slossen (Eric Pohlmann), and
that he killed Katie because he thought she had evidence against Slossen.
With Katie dead though, Rogers is the only one able to get his hands on
the bank locker, so Hart and Slossen kidnap Jenny to force him hand over
the locker's content - but Slossen has a nephew, Henry (Kenneth Griffith),
who was in love with Katie and who hates his uncle with a passion, which
is why Rogers is able to use him to get to Slossen's hideout, where he
plays Slossen and Hart against each other, which ends with Slossen being
killed. But when it's Rogers' turn to be shot, the police arrives, called
to the scene by Jenny, who has since been freed, and Hart is arrested
while Rogers is cleared of all suspicions. When he opens the bank locker
though out of curiosity, he can't find any incriminating material there,
just private things and evidence for her love for him ...
In the end,
Rogers only just catches the plane back to the USA to end his 36 hours
Well written if a bit convoluted British film noir that's
also graced with a competent direction - however the main attraction of
this film is Dan Duryea, given the rare opportunity (at least inside the
noir genre) to not play a psycho but a good guy, and he handles that role
just perfectly, providing his character with just enough vulnerability to
make him believable as the broken widower without destroying the resourceful
man on the run aspects of the role. Tot ell you the truth, I have no
idea if the movie would be even half as good without Duryea, but luckily
he is in it and makes it almost a must-see.