Edgar Wallace Mysteries

Last updated
Title sequence "Edgar Wallace Mysteries".jpg
Title sequence

The Edgar Wallace Mysteries is a British second-feature film series mainly produced at Merton Park Studios for Anglo-Amalgamated. [1] There were 48 films in the series, which were released between 1960 and 1965. [2] The series was screened as The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre on television in the United States.

Contents

Synopsis

Producers Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy acquired the film rights to all of Edgar Wallace's books and stories in 1960. [1]

The original intent was that 30 of the films would be produced by Independent Artists at Beaconsfield Studios while a further 20 would be made by the Film Producers Guild at Merton Park Studios. [3]

In the event, Independent Artists' only contribution to the series would be The Malpas Mystery while more than double the intended 20 were made at Merton Park. The resulting adaptations were loose, with very few using Wallace's original titles. Like the concurrent Rialto Film series then being produced in Germany (see German crimis), there was no attempt to set them in the period settings of Wallace's original stories, probably to eliminate the need for elaborate costumes and sets. [4] A 1962 article in Scene magazine quotes £22,000 as the budget for an episode in production at the time of reporting. The majority of the films played as supporting features on the ABC Cinemas circuit, which was Anglo-Amalgamated's usual outlet; but ten of them were allocated to the rival Rank circuit, with screenings in their Odeon and Gaumont cinemas. [5]

Most of the series featured a uniform title sequence, in which a shadowed bust of Edgar Wallace revolves slowly against a backdrop of swirling mist, to the accompaniment of the "Man of Mystery" theme written by Michael Carr. [6] "Man of Mystery" was later recorded by The Shadows and became a number 5 hit record in the UK. [7] [8] Later episodes of the series used a speeded up version of the title music after the Shadows' cover version.[ citation needed ]

The film, Violent Moment (1959), was later released with the Wallace Mysteries' credits replacing the originals, even though it was not part of the series. According to Kim Newman, insufficient episodes were available for American television, for the series was still in production; hence, the distributor Anglo-Amalgamated attached the 'Wallace Mysteries' credits to some of its other mystery and crime films (such as House of Mystery , 1961) and thereby expanded the series.[ citation needed ]

The series has been shown on television. [9] In Britain, it was shown by ITV in 1968 under the title Tales of Edgar Wallace. Later, Channel 4 and Bravo rescreened the films through to the 1990s, later being re-shown on Talking Pictures TV from 2018. It was shown on American television as The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, with episodes cut to fit hour-long commercial TV slots.

In July 2012, Network DVD began to release the complete series on DVD, uncut and presented in its original aspect ratio. [10]

Films

Urge to Kill (1960) does not appear to have been part of the original series of films produced at Merton Park. [2] [11] Other films not shot as part of the series, but subsequently included, are Gerry Anderson's Crossroads to Crime (1960) [12] and Seven Keys (1961).

Critical reception

The Radio Times described the series as "Brit noir at its best, updating some of the author's stories to more contemporary settings and blending classic B-movie elements with a distinctly British feel." [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Thaw</span> English actor

John Edward Thaw, was an English actor who appeared in a range of television, stage, and cinema roles. He starred in the television series Inspector Morse as title character Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse, Redcap as Sergeant John Mann, The Sweeney as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, Home to Roost as Henry Willows, and Kavanagh QC as title character James Kavanagh.

<i>Armchair Theatre</i> British television series

Armchair Theatre is a British television drama anthology series of single plays that ran on the ITV network from 1956 to 1974. It was originally produced by ABC Weekend TV. Its successor Thames Television took over from mid-1968.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Vernon</span> English actor (1925–1997)

Richard Evelyn Vernon was a British actor. He appeared in many feature films and television programmes, often in aristocratic or supercilious roles. Prematurely balding and greying, Vernon settled into playing archetypal middle-aged lords and military types while still in his 30s. He is perhaps best known for originating the role of Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Other notable roles included Edwin Oldenshaw in The Man in Room 17 (1965–67), Sir James Greenley, alias "C" in The Sandbaggers (1978–80) and Sir Desmond Glazebrook in Yes Minister (1980–81) and its sequel series Yes, Prime Minister (1987).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hazel Court</span> English actress (1926–2008)

Hazel Court was an English actress. She is known for her roles in British and American horror films during the 1950s and early 1960s, including Terence Fisher's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959) for Hammer Film Productions, and three of Roger Corman's adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories for American International Pictures: The Premature Burial (1962), The Raven (1963) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Finlay Currie</span> Scottish actor (1878–1968)

William Finlay Currie was a Scottish actor of stage, screen, and television. He received great acclaim for his roles as Abel Magwitch in the British film Great Expectations (1946) and as Balthazar in the American film Ben-Hur (1959).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ray Barrett</span> Australian actor

Raymond Charles Barrett was an Australian actor. During the 1960s, he was a leading actor on British television, where he was best known for his appearances in The Troubleshooters (1965–1971). From the 1970s, he appeared in lead and character roles in Australian films and TV series.

Edgar Wallace (1875–1932) was a British novelist and playwright and screenwriter whose works have been adapted for the screen on many occasions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglo-Amalgamated</span>

Anglo-Amalgamated Productions was a British film production company, run by Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy, which operated from 1945 until roughly 1971. Low-budget and second features, often produced at Merton Park Studios, formed much of its output. It was the UK distributor of many films produced by American International Pictures (AIP), who distributed AA's films in the United States.

James Philip O'Connolly was an English actor, director, producer and screenwriter. He is best known as the associate producer of many of the Edgar Wallace Mysteries b-films made at Merton Park Studios in the early 1960s, though he also directed a number of other low budget British movies, including The Hi-Jackers (1963), Smokescreen (1964), and Tower of Evil (1972), as well as several episodes of The Saint.

Merton Park Studios, opened in 1929, was a British film production studio located at Long Lodge, 269 Kingston Road in Merton Park, South London. In the 1940s, it was owned by Piprodia Entertainment, Nikhanj Films and Film Producers Guild.

Gordon William Flemyng was a Scottish television and film director. He was also a writer and producer. He directed six theatrical features, several television films and numerous episodes of television series, some of which he also wrote and produced.

<i>Scotland Yard</i> (film series)

Scotland Yard is a series of 39 half-hour episodes produced by Anglo-Amalgamated. Produced between 1953 and 1961, they are short films, originally made to support the main feature in a cinema double-bill. Each film focuses on a true crime case with names changed, and feature an introduction by the crime writer Edgar Lustgarten.

<i>We Shall See</i> 1964 British film

We Shall See is a 1964 British drama film directed by Quentin Lawrence and starring Maurice Kaufmann, Faith Brook and Alec Mango. It was adapted from a 1926 novel We Shall See! by Edgar Wallace, and was made at Merton Park Studios as part of the long-running series of Edgar Wallace Mysteries.

<i>The Clue of the New Pin</i> (1961 film) 1961 British film

The Clue of the New Pin (1961) is a British crime film directed by Allan Davis and starring Paul Daneman, Bernard Archard and James Villiers. It was one of the series of Edgar Wallace Mysteries, British second-features, produced at Merton Park Studios in the 1960s.

<i>The Sinister Man</i> 1961 British film

The Sinister Man is a 1961 British crime drama film directed by Clive Donner and starring Patrick Allen and John Bentley. It was one of the series of Edgar Wallace Mysteries, British second-features, produced at Merton Park Studios in the 1960s.

<i>Incident at Midnight</i> 1963 British film

Incident at Midnight is a 1963 British crime film directed by Norman Harrison and starring Anton Diffring, William Sylvester and Justine Lord. It was made at Merton Park Studios as part of the series of Edgar Wallace Mysteries, in this case adapted from one of Wallace's short stories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Angela Browne</span> British actress

Angela Browne was a British actress. She had a recurring role in the early 1960s crime series Ghost Squad. She also appeared in episodes of shows such as Danger Man, No Hiding Place, The Saint, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Upstairs, Downstairs and Minder. In 1966 she appeared in the Norman Wisdom comedy film Press for Time.

<i>The Malpas Mystery</i> 1960 film directed by Sidney Hayers

The Malpas Mystery is a 1960 British 'B' movie crime film, directed by Sidney Hayers. Although originally made by Independent Artists at Beaconsfield studios, it was included in the Merton Park series of Edgar Wallace Mysteries. When Audrey is released from prison, she finds herself embroiled with mysterious doctors, missing heirs, diamonds and murder.

<i>Marriage of Convenience</i> (1960 film) 1960 British film

Marriage of Convenience is a 1960 British crime film directed by Clive Donner and starring Harry H. Corbett, John Cairney and John Van Eyssen. Part of the long-running series of Edgar Wallace Mysteries films made at Merton Park Studios, it is based on the 1924 novel The Three Oak Mystery.

New Elstree Studios was a British film studio complex that was the main production centre for the Danziger Brothers from 1956 to 1962, and was one of several sites collectively known as "Elstree Studios". 60 B-movies and 350 half-hour TV episodes were filmed there, for both British and American markets.

References

  1. 1 2 "BFI Screenonline: Flat Two (1962)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  2. 1 2 "Edgar Wallace Mysteries (1960–65)". July 9, 2012.
  3. Cowan, Margaret (25 February 1960). "One Hour Films". Television Today.
  4. Tise Vahimagi. "Edgar Wallace at Merton Park".
  5. "Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, The (Tales of Edgar Wallace)". Nostalgia Central.
  6. Saul, Marc (2010). "Tales of Edgar Wallace". Television Heaven.
  7. "Man Of Mystery". Discogs.
  8. "Man of Mystery/The Stranger". www.officialcharts.com.
  9. "The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre". Radio Times .
  10. "Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Volume 7". Network On Air.
  11. "The Edgar Wallace Mysteries - Volume 6". www.dvdbeaver.com.
  12. "Crossroads to Crime". www.dvdbeaver.com.
  13. "The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Ricochet (1963)". Radio Times.

Further reading