Torment (1950 British film)

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Torment FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by John Guillermin
Written byJohn Guillermin
Cinematography Gerald Gibbs
Edited by Robert Jordan Hill
Music by John Wooldridge
Advance Productions
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 3 February 1950 (1950-02-03)(London UK)
  • 10 November 1950 (1950-11-10)(US)
Running time
68 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom

Torment (also known as Paper Gallows), is a 1950 British thriller film directed by John Guillermin and starring Dermot Walsh, Rona Anderson and John Bentley. [1]


It was the first sole director credit for John Guillermin. [2] He later called the film "a lemon" but it helped launch his career. [3]


Brothers Cliff and Jim Brandon are a successful writing team specializing in murder mysteries, but Cliff and Jim are almost as disturbed as some of the characters they have created. Whilst researching their latest novel, one of the brothers commits murder, simply to experience the thrill. He then attempts to frame his secretary Joan for the crime. His reason this time is personal: both brothers are in love with Joan, but she prefers one over the other. The saner of the two brothers races against time to save Joan from the gallows and to bring his sibling to justice. [4]



Guillermin had made several films for Adelphi as a producer. One day he saw an elaborate set being torn down and offered Adelphi that he would write a film in three weeks and shoot it in three weeks if he could use the set. They agreed. It did take Guillermin three weeks to write it but six weeks to film. [5]

Guillermin was paid £3,250. According to one writer it was with this film that "Guillermin’s talent for clear, compact, efficient direction became evident: his tautly-shot thriller remains the strongest crime drama in the Adelphi catalogue." [6]


It was released in the US in March 1951 as Paper Gallows. [7]

The film was rejected for distribution by the main British cinema circuits but Guillermin found the movie useful in launching his career. [8]

Critical reception

TV Guide wrote, "the story here is nothing new, but the direction is fresh and original. Taking this simplistic plotline, Guillermin manages to inject some good suspense into a modestly budgeted feature. Walsh, Bentley, and Anderson play their roles well and play against one another with skill." [9]

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  1. "Torment | BFI | BFI". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  2. Vagg, Stephen (17 November 2020). "John Guillermin: Action Man". Filmink.
  3. Pratt, Vic; Lees, Kate (2020). "CHAPTER 3 EARLY DAYS WITH ADELPHI FILMS". In Guillermin, Mary (ed.). John Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The Movies. Precocity Press. p. 25.
  4. "Paper Gallows (1950) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  5. Guillermin, Mary (2020). "CHAPTER 5A LOVER OF FEMININITY IN ALL ITS FULLNESS". In Guillermin, Mary (ed.). John Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The Movies. Precocity Press. p. 94.
  6. Pratt, Vic; Lees, Kate (2020). "CHAPTER 3 EARLY DAYS WITH ADELPHI FILMS". In Guillermin, Mary (ed.). John Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The Movies. Precocity Press. p. 34.
  7. BRIGADOON' LISTED BY METRO FOR FALL: Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson Will Play Leads in Screen Version of Musical Hit Of Local Origin By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 12 Mar 1951: 20.
  8. Lees p 38
  9. "Paper Gallows Review". Retrieved 16 April 2014.