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Colonel March of Scotland Yard - The Sorcerer

episode 1

UK 1955
produced by
Hannah Weinstein for Fountain Films/ITV
directed by Bernard Knowles
starring Boris Karloff, Ewan Roberts, Phil Brown, Gerard Heinz, Robert Adair, Eileen Erskine, Lily Kann
screenplay by Paul Monash, based on a story by Carter Dickson (= John Dickson Carr), music by Philip Green

Colonel March

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Colonel March (Boris Karloff) of Scotland Yard's Department of Weird Complaints receives a visit of industrialist John Cusby (Robert Adair), claiming his wife Evelyn (Eileen Erskine) is under the spell of her psychiatrist Dr. Patten (Gerard Heinz) and even makes a threat to kill him in front of March and Inspector Ames (Ewan Roberts). March takes Cusby's statement with a certain grain of salt, but still visits the doctor and meets him, his wife (Lily Kann) and his talkative assistant Dr. Hayes (Phil Brown), this way getting a good picture of things concerned. Thing is, during his next session with Evelyn, Dr. Patton actually dies, killed with her own hairpin - so Ames is quick to arrest her. But for March, the case seems much too simple if Evelyn was the culprit - after all, if she wanted to kill him she could have chosen a much subtler approach with not everything pointing squarely at her. So March does some digging, and eventually comes to the realisation that it must have been somebody who knew about Patten's fear of fire, as during the session apparently Patten smelt fire, opened a door for a moment, and got stabbed with Evelyn's hatpin then without her even noticing. But who knew about Patten's fear of fire? His wife, naturally, and his assistand Hayes, who in the finale turns out to be quite the lunatic, but gets his just desserts.


As with many "locked room" mysteries, the premise of this one is much more interesting than its solution, and the finale doesn't do the build-up justice, instead just over-convolutes a straight story with far-fetched logistical and psychological explanations without actually giving the culprit a good motive. That said, giving the mystery a psychoanalytical underscoring is at least a good idea on paper, and acting-wise Karloff brings this across quite convincingly, supported by a solid ensemble, but as a whole this just doesn't catch on, as too much of its story seems to just been pulled out of the head rather than worked towards logically.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD