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Circle of Danger 1951


Director: Jacques Tourneur


Writers: Philip MacDonald

Rôle: Sholto Lewis


Release Date: 17 April 1951


Synopsis: Clay Douglas an American, comes to Britain, to find out the truth behind his brothers death during a commando operation in occupied France. After tracking down the surviving members of the raid, he confronts the killer, only to be told the truth about what really happened.

Comment: The film cinematographers were the legendary Oswald Morris (who would later photograph Marius in So Little Time 1952) and Gilbert Taylor (he filmed the first Star Wars). The black and white cinematography is particularly fine and there is great use of outdoor locations, particularly in the climactic final scenes set in the Scottish Highlands. The atmosphere they capture is moody and threatening where Marius provides the dramatic denouement for the film's story.

Marius plays the character of Sholto Lewis, the ruthless ex-commando turned ballet entrepreneur, as slightly camp but those later scenes of him in his black leather jacket with his wavy auburn hair blowing in the highland breeze. Phoar! The scene where he first meets Clay Douglas (Ray Milland) is very funny. The character of Sholto is charming and impish except when Clay taps him on the shoulder. Sholto turns his head, gives him the death stare and tells him "Don't do that! Most inadvisable!" I agree - you don't sneak up on an ex-commando, especially when he's holding a very large sword!

Circle of Danger 1951 film poster

Reviews on IMDb by clanciai: The problem of a war casualty that no one wants to speak about

This is a tricky post war drama, when an American comes to England to investigate how his brother really died in the war, being a single casualty at an incident. His family has Scottish roots, his name being Douglas, so there is a great deal of Scotland in this, and although it's all about the second world war, the entire drama takes place in Britain, especially Scotland. The last scene on the Scottish moors is extremely sharp in its concentration on an extreme moral dilemma that the soldiers of the relevant company found themselves in and had to resolve in a painful way. The script is brilliant and extremely interesting, as the investigation goes on probing deeper and deeper into a mystery that refuses to be unfolded, until Marius Goring intervenes and provides the releasing contribution. It's actually a chamber drama, it's all dialogue and discussions, and the romance seems beside the point, although it is well captured and plays some important part, especially by constantly encountering new crises. Ray Milland is always good, Hugh Sinclair plays a difficult part but is the right man for the job, while Patricia Roc contrasts well to the austerity of the drama by her beauty and obstinacy to Ray Milland's devious manoeuvres. It's an unusual film more made for thought and consideration than for enjoyment.

Excerpt from "Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall" by Chris Fujiwara (McFarland & Company, Inc. 1998 pp.186-187): "In the film's magnificent final section, in which Douglas returns to Scotland to confront Hamish, all the ambiguity that has been dispersed over the film suddenly becomes concentrated: in the looks exchanged between the two men in the house; in Elspeth's look as she witnesses this exchange; and in the beautiful figures-in-a-landscape mise-en-scène of Douglas's encounter with Hamish and Sholto - one of Tourneur's finest and most unheralded visual triumphs".

Wardrobe Trivia: The scarf that Marius wears in the scene where he is visited by Clay Douglas is the same one that he later wears in Rx Murder (1958) and the dark pullover he wears is same one he wore in The Red Shoes (1948). The tuxedo and bow tie that he wears at the theatre (see picture below) make another appearance in the television play The Sound of Murder (1964).  The black leather jacket he wears in the final scenes is the same one that he wears in Nachts auf den Straßen (1952) and in an episode of Maigret (1963) as Peter the Lett.

Availability: DVD (Network) Release Date: 23 February 2015


Blu Ray (Studio Canal Vintage Classics) Release Date: 5 February 2024.

Reviews: God Is In The TV 30 January 2024; Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian 30 January 2024; Geek Chocolate 30 January 2024

Circle of Danger 2015 DVD cover
Circle of Danger 2024 Blu Ray Cover
Circle of Danger review in the Evening Standard 19 April 1951
Circle of Danger review in the Birmingham Daily Gazette 4 June 1951
Circle of Danger review by C.A. Lejeune 22 April 1951
Circle of Danger review in The Times 23 April 1951
Circle of Danger review in The New York Times 12 July 1951

Circle of Danger 1951 original theatrical trailer

Clay Douglas meets Sholto Lewis

Circle of Danger 1951 lobbycard
Circle of Danger 1951 lobbycard
Circle of Danger 1951 lobbycard
Circle of Danger 1951 lobbycard
Circle of Danger 1951 film poster
Circle of Danger 1951 film poster
Circle of Danger 1951 film poster
Circle of Danger 1951 French film poster
Circle of Danger 1951 Belgian film poster
Circle of Danger 1951 Mexican film poster
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