When Ida Garnett (Joyce Carey) reports the disappearance of her niece, Margaret Crossley, to the police they have an obvious suspect for murder – her artist husband, Henry (Patrick Holt). But the only person who stands to gain from the death is not Henry… Enter Sunday Star crime reporter Mike (John Bentley) and his society page girlfriend Jenny (Hy Hazell) who end up in a battle of the sexes race to get an exclusive, much to the annoyance of the dogged Inspector (Eddie Byrne) in charge of the investigation…
Two years before Terence Fisher helped breathed new blood in the British Gothic horror genre with Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein, he directed Stolen Assignment, a light-hearted thriller for British Lion. Adapted from the story, Involuntary Confession, by Sidney Nelson and Maurice Harrison, this 62-minute B-feature was shot at Bray Studios, which was Hammer’s home of horror from 1951 until 1966 (the last film they shot there was The Mummy’s Shroud).
This being 1950s Britain, there’s a whiff of xenophobia in the film’s treatment of gypsies and a particularly out-dated gender remark over a male poodle being dyed pink. It also makes light of chequebook journalism and the issues surrounding such practices: the fact the two reporters’ influence the murder inquiry for the sake of a deadline is highly questionable. But it’s still very entertaining, with ‘Britain’s answer to Betty Grable’ Hy Hazell and future Crossroads star John Bentley making a great double act as the sparring lovers/reporters. Nostalgia fans will also get a buzz from the shots of Windsor High Street (has it changed at all?).
THE UK DVD RELEASE
Stolen Assignment is presented on DVD in a new transfer from the original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical 1.33:1 aspect ratio as part of Network Distributing’s The British Film