While on shore leave in England, American sailor David Martens (Keith Andes) seeks out his late brother’s fiancée, London fashion model, Diana (Julia Arnall), to return an engagement present of a ruby bracelet. But after Diana is murdered, David becomes the prime suspect in the theft of £60,000 worth of diamonds being held at the Mayfair fashion house of stylist Kingsley Beauchamp (Michael Gough).
With the police unwilling to believe his story, David seeks out smitten fashion assistant Sally Meadows (Hazel Court), her model sister Annabelle (Jean Aubrey), and fashion photographer George (Peter Hammond) to help him prove that Kingsley’s chauffeur Costard (Edwin Richfield) was behind both the murder and the theft. But what David doesn’t realise is the real mastermind is Kingsley himself, or that he’s planning on fleeing to Amsterdam with the jewels…
Death, diamonds and double-dealings take to the catwalk in 1959’s Model for Murder, an Edgar Wallace-styled B murder mystery, amiably directed by Terry Bishop, who is best known for his 1950s dramas involving the heroic deeds of the likes of Sir Lancelot, William Tell and Robin Hood.
Apart from one very atmospheric and noir-esque murder scene, this British Lion thriller is pretty standard fare, and is saved only by the stalwart acting and occasional comic touches (especially Annabel Maule’s hospital sister and Charles Lamb’s lock keeper).
The legendary Michael Gough chews the scenery big-time as the camp, villainous Kingsley Beauchamp, and makes his catty dialogue purr: ‘I find me much more fascinating’ and ‘Sometimes one has to be vulgar for publicity’ being among my favourites, while an overly-cheery Hazel Court (fresh from Brian Clemens’ A Woman of Mystery and in between making her two best known British horrors, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Man Who Could Cheat Death) makes an engaging heroine, while US import Keith Andes cuts a believable hero. Together, their Sally and David come off as a mini-league Nick and Nora Charles.
THE UK DVD RELEASE
Model for Murder is presented in a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio, as part of Network Distributing’s The British Film collection. The only extras are an image gallery and promotional material (pdf).