Break in the Circle 1955
Director: Val Guest
Writers: Robin Estridge, Val Guest
Rôle: Baron Keller
Release Date: 28 February 1955
Synopsis: An adventurer is hired by a German millionaire to help a Polish scientist escape to the West.
Behind-the-scenes Trivia: Article excerpt from The Guardian and Gazette 2 September 1954 an article on the filming "Ten Days Work in Eight Days by Film Stars: "Shooting completed at Polperro and Fowey. Realism in "Man Overboard" scene.
Marius Goring Overboard
Filming aboard a launch out in the Channel in a rough sea while travelling at twelve knots also has its hazards, as stage and screen actor Marius Goring discovered. He takes a leading part in the film and as the "villain" is destined for an untimely end in the sea. There was nearly too much reality in the scene played by Mr. Goring.
The scene demands the fall overboard from the launch, but the film executives decided to film one expedition. The largest his part so far and then substituting a "double". Mr. Goring disagreed and said he would play the whole part himself - including the falling overboard.
As he prepared to start the scene with the cameras focussed on him, the launch rolled heavily and he lost his balance, falling over the stern into the Channel. Five minutes passed while the launch manoeuvred to pick him up and he finally came aboard soaked and cold. But the cameras had followed him all the while and got the required scene.
More filming in mid-Channel was done on Tuesday when depth charge explosions were simulated. This was achieved by suspending explosive charges 3ft. below the surface of the sea and firing them electrically."
Availability: DVD-R available from several sites
The Mirror and Markheim 1955
Director: John Lamont
Writers: John Lamont, Robert Louis Stevenson (story)
Release Date: April 1955
Synopsis: A young reprobate visits a jeweller with the intention of robbing and killing him, but has an ugly interview with himself before a mirror and quickly changes his mind.
Background: It is based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, originally prepared for the Pall Mall Gazette in 1884, but published in 1885 in The Broken Shaft: Tales of Mid-Ocean as part of Unwin's Christmas Annual. The story was later published in Stevenson's collection The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables (1887).
The story opens late one Christmas Day in an antique store, presumably in London during the mid 1880s. A man named Markheim has come even though the store is officially closed, and the rather shady dealer points out that whenever he comes to visit after hours, it is usually to privately sell a rare item, claiming it to be from a late uncle's collection he inherited. The dealer hints his suspicions that more likely Markheim stole these items, although it has not stopped him from purchasing them, usually for an amount less than what his client asked for. Markheim visibly flinches at the dealer's not-so-subtle insinuations, but claims that he has not come to sell anything this time, but rather to buy a Christmas present for a woman he will soon marry, implying she is well off. Though somewhat incredulous, the dealer suggests a mirror as a gift, but Markheim takes fright at his own reflection, claiming that no man wants to see what a mirror shows him. Markheim seems strangely reluctant to end the transaction, but when the dealer insists that his visitor must buy or leave, Markheim consents to review more goods. However, when the dealer turns his back to select another item, Markheim pulls out a knife and stabs him to death.
Surrounded by mirrors and ominously ticking clocks, and with only a candle to light up the dark shop, Markheim spends some minutes recovering his nerve when he hears someone moving about upstairs, though he knows the dealer's maidservant has taken the day off and no one should be there. He reassures himself that the outer door is locked, searches the dealer's body for keys and then goes to the upper rooms where the dealer lived to look for money, which he intends to use to start a business. As he searches for the right key to open the dealer's safe, he hears footsteps on the stairs, and a man opens the door and asks, "Did you call me?"
Markheim believes the stranger is the Devil. Though he never identifies himself, the stranger is clearly supernatural; he says that he has watched Markheim his whole life. He tells Markheim that the servant is returning to the store early, so Markheim had best hurry or face the consequences. He also offers to show Markheim the right key to open the safe, although he predicts that Markheim's business will not be successful. Indeed, the stranger clearly knows that much of Markheim's life has been unsuccessful, consisting of gambling and petty theft. Instead of continuing to loot the house, Markheim tries to justify his life and conduct to the stranger, entering into a discussion of the nature of good and evil. The stranger refutes him on every point, and Markheim is at last obliged to admit that he has thrown his life away and turned to evil.
The servant returns, and as she knocks on the door the stranger advises Markheim that he can entice her in by telling her that her master is hurt, then kill her and have the whole night to ransack the house. Markheim retorts that while he has lost the love of good, he still hates evil. The face of the stranger undergoes a "wonderful and lovely change", full of "tender triumph", as he disappears. Markheim opens the door and tells the servant to call the police, for he has killed her master.
Comment: This short (28 minute) film featured Philip Saville as Markheim as well as Christopher Lee as the Stranger/Visitant and Arthur Lowe (later well-known from 'Dad's Army').
Availability: It is unknown if there is any existing copy of this 28 minute short film.