Wanted for Murder (1946)

Wanted for Murder (1946)
6.8
  • 408
  • Approved
  • Genre: Crime
  • Release year: 1946 ()
  • Running time: 101 min
  • Original Title: Wanted for Murder
  • Voted: 408

The son of a Victorian hangman is driven insane by thoughts of his father's profession. The young man emulates his father by strangling young women. He then meets and falls in love with a woman but can he suppress his urge to kill her ?

#PersonCharacters
1Eric PortmanVictor James Colebrooke, alias Tom Maren
2Dulcie GrayAnne Fielding
3Derek FarrJack Williams
4Roland CulverChief Insp. Conway
  • Murderer loose in postwar London in the 40's by 7

    Erudite British effort where the strangler comes off as quite civilized. He's quite the gentleman, really, just has this problem with his hands.

    Really enjoyed Stanley Holloway as the #2-cop on the case. Stanley doesn't break into song but he does provide some comedic relief--subtle stuff, no slapstick.

    You can't help but be fascinated by the many views of London that are pictured (immediately after the war). The buses, street scenes, and various landmarks shown on film tell a story of their own. How times have changed--the record shop scene is a far cry from the rocking London that would follow 20 years later.

    This is well-written (Emeric Pressburger had a hand in that) story with characters that are decidely human, albeit in the English stiff-upper-lip school.

  • Stay away from London parks by 7

    Eric Portman (Viktor) is the grandson of a notorious hangman. His grandfather's sadistic, psychotic reputation as a killer plays heavily on Portman's psyche. Actually, it does more than that - it influences his behaviour. However, he is unable to change who he is. A serial killer is at large murdering women and goading the police. Can Roland Culver (Inspector Conway) and his team prevent the killer from striking again and again....?

    This film contains some dodgy accents, in particular, a very posh bus driver as played by Derek Farr (Jack) and a young Scottish woman, Jenny Laird (Jeannie), who comes from absolutely nowhere in Scotland. There are humorous moments eg, Stanley Holloway's portrayal of "Sgt Sullivan" and Gerard Kempinski as a waiter, alongside tense dramatic sections, eg, the murder of Jenny Laird (Jeannie) in the park. I found Barbara Everest as "Mrs Colebrooke" slightly weird b t it's a minor point in an otherwise convincing tale of a killer who is born to kill. We are left in no doubt as to who the killer is from the beginning and this adds to the tension throughout the film. I thought that the killer's fate was rather convenient - an easy way to end the film - but it's still a good film.

  • Marvelous British Suspense Film by 8

    Don't be put off by the generic title. This is a film of subtlety and grace.

    Eric Portman is perfect as the troubled protagonist. Dulcie Gray enchants as the vulnerable yet strong-willed heroine. And the supporting cast is uniformly excellent.

    This is a variation on the Jack the Ripper theme. Someone is strangling young women, sending notes to Scotland Yard in advance. Ronald Culver is absolutely right as the chief inspector on the case.

    The psychology may be painted with slightly broad strokes. But the acting elevate that: The pain felt by all concerned is palpable. We do not admire the killer but we have understanding of the person's behavior. The victims and would-be victims are touching. And the attempts by secondary characters to help are persuasive and upsetting to us.

  • Very effective British thriller by 7

    It's all very nicely done. I had barely, if ever, heard of any of the leads in this movie before I saw it. I was expecting a sloppy film noir set in London, but it was a pleasant surprise when the dialogue and the players were as good as they are. The story is tight, mostly, and there is real tension and unexpected humor. Overall, it was very effective.

    I was particularly impressed with Eric Portman as Colebrooke. There was not much of a tradition playing sociopaths at this point in the movies. Of the few that had been portrayed, Cagney in "White Heat", for example, is much more histrionic and obvious than Portman is here.

    I might quibble with some plot points and some really heavy-handed staging, but really this is much like middle Hitchcock without all of the psychological mumbo-jumbo to push it along.

  • Just Call Whitehall 1212 by 8

    Wanted for Murder is directed by Lawrence Huntington and adapted to screenplay by Emeric Pressburger, Rodney Ackland, Barbara Everest and Maurice Cowan from the play by Terence De Marney and Percy Robinson. It stars Eric Portman, Dulcie Gray, Derek Farr, Roland Culver and Stanley Holloway. Music is by Mischa Spoliansky and cinematography by Mutz Greenbaum.

    Nifty little thriller noir this, basically it finds Portman as the sinister Victor James Colebrook, a man with murderous instincts born out by bad seed lineage in his family tree. Can intrepid Chief Inspector Conway (Culver) nail his man before he kills yet again? Imperative since Victor has latched onto Anne Fielding (Gray), and although he is in love with her, he doesn't know how long he can contain his blood lust.

    Thought to be influenced by a real life serial killer, Huntington's movie is very Hitchcockian in tone. Story unfolds by night in a London of dimly lighted foggy streets and dense shadowed parks, and by day it's the hustle and bustle of the city that provides a backdrop of false normalcy. As the tormented Victor goes about his way, leading his double life as a cunning member of society who dotes on his mother – and that of a strangler of women – the makers ensure the surroundings suit the persona.

    A chapter of the story set at a carnival pulses with unease, a visit to a wax museum really gets to the heart of the evil, a murder sequence that is off camera strikes all the right terrifying notes, and a quite brilliant passage that sees witnesses come face to face with the killer in Conway's office is superbly performed by all involved. Then there is the finale that plays out at night (naturally) at the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. Wonderful!

    Portman (A Canterbury Tale/Dear Murderer) was a British treasure, an actor whose career begs for reappraisal by classic film fans. Here he is right on the money as the complex sociopath who detests what he has become and even dangles clues for the police to follow. Yet he also slips easily into society with a measured calmness that is rather chilling. Portman quite simply is excellent. As are Culver and Holloway as the sort of coppers Britain could do with having more of these days!

    With Pressburger as part of the writing team it's no surprise to find the script tight and the dialogue snappy, Huntington (The Upturned Glass) and Greenbaum (Night and the City) never miss the chance to accentuate the psychological tremors by way of smart visuals, and Spoliansky's music is devilishly spectral like. It probably could have been shorn of ten minutes and the Dulcie Gray/Derek Farr romance gets a little twee at times, but this is well worth checking out and deserves to be better known. 8/10