Strange Boarders

Last updated

Strange Boarders
Strangeboarders.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Herbert Mason
Written by Sidney Gilliat
A. R. Rawlinson
Based on The Strange Boarders of Palace Crescent by E. Phillips Oppenheim
Produced by Edward Black
Starring Tom Walls
Renée Saint-Cyr
Googie Withers
Ronald Adam
Cinematography Jack E. Cox
Edited by Michael Gordon
Music by Charles Williams
Production
company
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Release dates
  • May 1938 (1938-05)(UK)
  • 1 August 1938 (1938-08-01)(U.S.)
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Strange Boarders is a 1938 British comedy thriller film, directed by Herbert Mason, produced by Edward Black for Gainsborough Pictures, and starring Tom Walls, Renée Saint-Cyr, Googie Withers and Ronald Adam. The film is an adaptation of the 1934 espionage novel The Strange Boarders of Palace Crescent by E. Phillips Oppenheim, [1] and was well received by critics.

Contents

Plot

A seemingly innocuous and respectable elderly lady is knocked down and critically injured by a bus on a London street. When the police search her handbag to find out her identity, they are astonished to discover a series of top secret military blueprints. The secret service are alerted and arrive at the hospital to question her, but she laughs in their faces before quietly dying.

The man for the job is top secret service agent Tommy Blythe (Walls), who happens to be on honeymoon with new wife Louise (Saint-Cyr). He is summoned back to London under conditions of absolute secrecy, not allowed to divulge any details even to Louise, who naturally does not believe his unconvincing cover story and jumps to the conclusion that he is having an affair.

Enquiries lead to the Notting Hill boarding house where the dead woman lived and Tommy takes a room there incognito to try to infiltrate what is assumed to be a nest of spies. Louise follows him to London and confronts him, and he is forced against orders to take her into his confidence. She also takes a room and the couple pretend not to know each other, giving their names as a Mr. Bullock and a Miss Heffer. Together they set about the task of observing and investigating the sundry assortment of fellow lodgers, knowing that some are completely innocent while others harbour dark and treacherous secrets which threaten the very nation. From the grasping landlady Mrs. Dewar (Irene Handl) and the meek maid Elsie (Withers), through to fellow boarders including a blind man (Adam), a Boer War colonel and his wife apparently in retirement, a travelling salesman, a scatty old biddy and a merchant of Argentinian meat, all come under suspicion before the wily pair of sleuths manage to untangle the web of lies and false leads to reveal who in the household is or is not a traitor.

Cast

Production

Filming took place in Pinewood Studios with sets designed by the art director Walter Murton.

Reception

The Los Angeles Times described it as "a long series of laughs as well as thrills". [2]

Halliwell's Film & Video Guide described the film as "[quite an] engaging comedy-thriller in the Hitchcock mould, with entertaining performances and incidents." [3]

David Parkinson in Radio Times said "The spy thriller meets the bedroom farce in this sprightly British suspense comedy. [4]

Related Research Articles

<i>Secret Agent</i> (1936 film) 1936 film by Alfred Hitchcock

Secret Agent is a 1936 British espionage thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, adapted from the play by Campbell Dixon, which in turn is loosely based on two stories in the 1927 collection Ashenden: Or the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham. The film stars Madeleine Carroll, Peter Lorre, John Gielgud, and Robert Young. It also features uncredited appearances by Michael Redgrave, future star of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Michael Rennie in his film debut.

Googie Withers British actress and entertainer

Georgette Lizette Withers, CBE, AO, known professionally as Googie Withers, was an English entertainer who was a dancer and actress with a lengthy career spanning some nine decades in theatre, film, and television. She was a well-known actress and star of British films during the Second World War and postwar years.

Henry Kendall (actor) English stage and film actor (1897–1962)

Henry Kendall AFC, was an English stage and film actor, theatre director and revue artiste.

<i>Back-Room Boy</i> 1942 film

Back-Room Boy is a 1942 British comedy film directed by Herbert Mason, produced by Edward Black for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Arthur Askey, Googie Withers, Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott. The original story was written by J.O.C. Orton. A man from the Met Office is sent to a lighthouse on a remote Scottish island to monitor the weather, where he hopes to escape from women, but soon finds the island overrun by them.

<i>The 39 Steps</i> (1959 film) 1959 film

The 39 Steps is a 1959 British thriller film directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Kenneth More and Taina Elg. Produced by Betty Box, it is a remake of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, loosely based on the 1915 novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.

Rodney Ackland

Rodney Ackland was an English playwright, actor, theatre director and screenwriter.

<i>Mad About Mambo</i> 2000 romantic comedy film

Mad About Mambo is a 2000 romantic comedy film written and directed by John Forte. It stars William Ash, Keri Russell and Brian Cox.

<i>The Ape Man</i> 1943 film by William Beaudine

The Ape Man is a 1943 American science-fiction horror film directed by William Beaudine. It stars Bela Lugosi as a doctor who, as a result of scientific experiments, transforms into a part-human/part-ape hybrid.

<i>Too Hot to Handle</i> (1960 film) 1960 film by Terence Young

Too Hot to Handle is a 1960 British neo-noir gangster thriller film directed by Terence Young and starring Jayne Mansfield and Leo Genn. Christopher Lee appears in a supporting role.

<i>The Lady Vanishes</i> 1938 film by Alfred Hitchcock

The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 British mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. Written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, the film is about a beautiful English tourist travelling by train in continental Europe who discovers that her elderly travelling companion seems to have disappeared from the train. After her fellow passengers deny ever having seen the elderly lady, the young woman is helped by a young musicologist, the two proceeding to search the train for clues to the old lady's disappearance.

<i>Q Planes</i> 1939 film by Tim Whelan and Arthur B. Woods

Q Planes is a 1939 British comedy spy film starring Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier and Valerie Hobson. Olivier and Richardson were a decade into their fifty-year friendship and were in the process of staging a theatrical version of Othello, with Richardson in the title role and Olivier as Iago, when this film was made.

<i>The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker</i> 1971 film by Lawrence Turman

The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker is a 1971 American romantic comedy-drama film released in 1971, based on a novel of the same title by Charles Webb. It was directed and produced by Lawrence Turman, who produced 1967's high-grossing hit The Graduate, also adapted from a book by Webb.

<i>John and Julie</i> 1955 film

John and Julie (1955) is a British comedy film, starring Colin Gibson, Lesley Dudley, Noelle Middleton and Moira Lister, and featuring Peter Sellers and Sid James in early screen roles.

<i>I Was a Spy</i> 1933 film

I Was a Spy is a 1933 British thriller film directed by Victor Saville and starring Madeleine Carroll, Herbert Marshall, and Conrad Veidt. Based on the 1932 memoir I Was a Spy by Marthe Cnockaert, the film is about her experiences as a Belgian woman who nursed German soldiers during World War I while passing intelligence to the British.

<i>The Calendar</i> (1948 film) 1948 film

The Calendar is a black and white 1948 British drama film directed by Arthur Crabtree and starring Greta Gynt, John McCallum, Raymond Lovell and Leslie Dwyer. It is based on the 1929 play The Calendar and subsequent novel by Edgar Wallace. A previous version had been released in 1931.

<i>Take My Tip</i> 1937 British film

Take My Tip is a 1937 British musical comedy film directed by Herbert Mason, produced by Michael Balcon and starring Jack Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge, Harold Huth and Frank Cellier.

<i>The Ghost and the Guest</i> 1943 film

The Ghost and the Guest is a 1943 American black-and-white comedy-mystery film directed by William Nigh and starring James Dunn, Florence Rice, Robert Dudley, and Sam McDaniel. The plot finds a newlywed couple honeymooning in a house they think is haunted but which is really overrun by a gang of criminals trying to recover stolen loot. Based on an original story by American animator Milt Gross, the screenplay was the first film script by comedian Morey Amsterdam.

<i>Rough Shoot</i> 1953 film by Robert Parrish

Rough Shoot, released in the USA as Shoot First, is a 1953 British thriller film directed by Robert Parrish and written by Eric Ambler, based on the 1951 novel by Geoffrey Household. The film stars Joel McCrea, in his only postwar non-Western role, with Evelyn Keyes as the leading lady, and featuring Herbert Lom, Marius Goring and Roland Culver. The scenario is set in Cold War England when tensions ran high regarding spying.

<i>Things Are Looking Up</i> (film) 1935 British film

Things Are Looking Up is a 1935 British musical comedy film directed by Albert de Courville, produced by Michael Balcon for Gaumont British and starring Cicely Courtneidge, Max Miller and William Gargan. It was made at Islington Studios by British Gaumont, an affiliate of Gainsborough Pictures. The film's sets were designed by Alex Vetchinsky. Courtneidge plays a dual role as the sisters Bertha and Cicely Fytte. Bertha is a dour schoolteacher, while the bubbly Cicely runs a nearby circus. When Bertha surprisingly elopes, Cicely takes her place at the school to prevent her from getting the sack. It was the film debut for Vivien Leigh.

<i>The Strange Boarders of Palace Crescent</i> 1934 novel

The Strange Boarders of Palace Crescent is a thriller novel by the British writer Edward Phillips Oppenheim, which was first published in 1934. It is set in a boarding house in London.

References

  1. Leith and Poague, 2011, p. 282
  2. "Strange Boarders" Los Angeles Times, 07-09-1938, p.13. Retrieved 15-10-2010
  3. John Walker (1998). Halliwell's Film & Video Guide (13 ed.). HarperCollins Publishers. p. 736.
  4. David Parkinson. "Strange Boarders (1938)". radiotimes.com. RadioTimes.com. Retrieved 6 August 2022.

Bibliography