Trent's Last Case (1952 film)

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Trent's Last Case
"Trent's Last Case" (1952).jpg
British theatrical poster
Directed by Herbert Wilcox
Produced byHerbert Wilcox
Written by E.C. Bentley (novel)
Pamela Bower
Starring Michael Wilding
Margaret Lockwood
Orson Welles
John McCallum
Music by Anthony Collins
Cinematography Mutz Greenbaum
Edited by Bill Lewthwaite
Imperadio Pictures Ltd. (Herbert Wilcox)
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date
29 October 1952
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£155,903 (UK) [1]

Trent's Last Case is a 1952 British detective film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles and John McCallum. [2] It was based on the 1913 novel Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley, and had been filmed previously in the UK with Clive Brook in 1920, and in a 1929 US version. [3] [4]



A major international financier is found dead at his Hampshire home. The Record newspaper assigns its leading investigative reporter, Phillip Trent, to the case. In spite of the police cordon, he manages to gain entry to the house by posing as a relative. While there he manages to pick up some of the background to the case from Inspector Murch, the Irish detective leading the investigation. Despite Murch's suggestion that the death is suicide, Trent quickly becomes convinced that it was in fact murder.

At the inquest, the coroner swiftly concludes that the deceased, Sigsbee Manderson, had killed himself. Trent, however, is given permission by his editor to continue to pursue the story. His attention is drawn to Manderson's widow, Margaret.



Margaret Lockwood had just signed a contract with Herbert Wilcox who was better known for making films with his wife, Anna Neagle. Neagle and Lockwood were among the most popular British stars in the country in the 1940s. Lockwood's career had been in a slump and this film was seen as a comeback. It was her first film in two years. [5] [6] The arrangement with Wilcox would kill off Lockwood's career as a star. [7]

Herbert Wilcox wrote in his memoirs that he paid Orson Welles £12,000 for his role but because Welles was in so much debt the actor wound up with only £150. Wilcox and Welles worked together again on Trouble in the Glen (1954). [8]

Lockwood wrote in her memoirs that she adored working with Wilcox. She said "Orson is a genius and like most geniuses in my experience, sometimes a trifle off. His oddity, or so it seemed t me while making this picture, was that he wanted to play his love scenes with me entirely by himself; without me... I must say they were very successful." [9]

In one scene, Eileen Joyce is shown playing part of Mozart's C minor Concerto, K. 491 at the Royal Opera House with an orchestra under Anthony Collins.

Critical reception

Leonard Maltin rated the film 2.5 out of 4 stars and noted "superior cast in lukewarm tale of the investigation of businessman's death" while Jay Carr on the TCM website, wrote, "In Trent's Last Case, Welles shares the spotlight with his spectacular putty nose. It's a mighty ice-breaker of a nose, straight-edged as a steel blade, pulverizing all in its path, including whatever pretension to credibility this creaky British murder mystery might have retained." [10] [11]

Related Research Articles

<i>Trents Last Case</i>

Trent's Last Case is a detective novel written by E. C. Bentley and first published in 1913. Its central character, the artist and amateur detective Philip Trent, reappeared subsequently in the novel Trent's Own Case (1936), and the short-story collection Trent Intervenes (1938).

Anna Neagle English stage and film actress and singer

Dame Florence Marjorie Wilcox, known professionally as Anna Neagle, was an English stage and film actress, singer and dancer.

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Margaret Lockwood British stage and film actress

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John Neil McCallum, was an Australian theatre and film actor, highly successful in the United Kingdom. He was also a television producer.

Herbert Wilcox Film producer and director from Britain

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<i>Piccadilly Incident</i>

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<i>Laughing Anne</i>

Laughing Anne is a 1953 British adventure film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Wendell Corey, Margaret Lockwood, Forrest Tucker, and Ronald Shiner. It was adapted from Joseph Conrad's short story, "Because of the Dollars" and from his 1923 two-act play, Laughing Anne.

<i>Trouble in the Glen</i>

Trouble in the Glen is a 1954 British comedy film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles, Forrest Tucker and Victor McLaglen. It is loosely based on Maurice Walsh's 1950 novel of the same name. It was filmed in Trucolor for Republic Pictures.

Trent's Last Case is a 1929 American Pre-Code detective film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Raymond Griffith, Marceline Day, Raymond Hatton, and Donald Crisp. It was released by Fox Film Corporation. The film was released in a silent version and a sound version, with the sound version having talking sequences, a synchronized music score, and sound effects.

<i>Peg of Old Drury</i>

Peg of Old Drury is a 1935 British historical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Cedric Hardwicke and Margaretta Scott. The film is a biopic of eighteenth-century Irish actress Peg Woffington. It was based on the play Masks and Faces by Charles Reade and Tom Taylor. It contains passages of eighteenth century Shakespearian performance, from The Merchant of Venice, Richard III and As You Like It.

<i>The Lady with a Lamp</i> 1951 film by Herbert Wilcox

The Lady with a Lamp is a 1951 British historical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Michael Wilding and Felix Aylmer. The film depicts the life of Florence Nightingale and her work with wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War.

Trent's Last Case is a 1920 British silent crime film directed by Richard Garrick and starring Gregory Scott, Pauline Peters and Clive Brook. It is an adaptation of the 1913 novel Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley. Detective Philip Trent investigates the mysterious murder of the financier Sigsbee Manderson.

Ann Veronica is a 1952 British TV version of the 1909 H. G. Wells novel of the same name.


  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p498
  2. "Trent's Last Case (1952) - BFI". BFI.
  3. "Trent's Last Case (1920) - BFI". BFI.
  4. Hal Erickson. "Trent's Last Case (1952) - Herbert Wilcox - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  5. "Comeback, but feud has ended". The Mail . 41 (2, 060). Adelaide. 24 November 1951. p. 8 (SUNDAY MAGAZINE). Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "£20,000 FILM CONTRACT". The News . 58 (8, 969). Adelaide. 8 May 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  7. Vagg, Stephen (29 January 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.
  8. Herbert Wilcox, Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets p 134-135
  9. Lockwood, Margaret (1955). Lucky Star: The Autobiography of Margaret Lockwood. Odhams Press Limited. p. 162-163.
  10. "Trent's Last Case (1953) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  11. "Trent's Last Case (1953) - Articles -". Turner Classic Movies.