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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Mark Fuller

The Night of the Party
Kinematograph Weekly: 8th February 1934

Conventional crime drama, adapted from a play by Roland Pertwee and John Hastings Turner. The construction of the story shows little ingenuity, but is sufficient to arouse suspense long enough for the end to come as a mild surprise. Direction and production lack that slickness and kick which is so essential to the complete success of this type of manufactured thriller. Few of the stage favourites comprising the cast succeed in adapting their technique to the requirements of the screen. Fair average two-feature programme booking for the masses.

STORY:- Lord Studholme, a ruthless newspaper magnate, generally feared, gives a dinner party in honour of a foreign princess. After dinner, a game called 'Murder' is suggested, and when the lights, which had been lowered, are turned up, it is discovered that Studholme has actually been murdered.

Suspicion is directed towards Sir John Holland, Commissioner of Police, whose daughter, Joan, Studholme had attempted to seduce, Joan herself, Guy Kennion, Studholme's secretary, who had secretly married his daughter, Peggy, General Piddington, Studholme's father-in-law, and Chiddart, an ultra-modern novelist, whose works Studholme had ridiculed. [Basically, everyone had reason to want Studholme dead] Guy is ultimately arrested, but during his trial at The Old Bailey, Chiddart, whose mind becomes unhinged, spectacularly confesses, and then kills himself.

ACTING:- Malcolm Keen plays Studholme, Leslie Banks is Sir John; Ian Hunter, Guy; Muriel Aked, the princess; Joan Baxter, Peggy; W. Graham Brown, General Piddington; Viola Keats, Joan and Ernest Thesiger, Chiddart: but it is only the last two named who really succeed in establishing definite character.

PRODUCTION:- The real trouble with this picture is its superior sentiments and unhurried and unimaginative handling. The majority of the characters are so pukka and dignified that the pace becomes monotonous, and the situations suffer in consequence. Suspense is weakened to a point when the unexpected becomes commonplace, and the ending, although surprising, is too wildly incredible. The film is just lukewarm mystery entertainment, suitable for second rather than first place on the programme.

SETTINGS & PHOTOGRAPHY:- There are no exteriors, but the interiors have a certain elegance, and the trial scenes hardly lives up to the tradition of The Old Bailey. Lighting and photography are satisfactory.

POINT OF APPEAL:- Popular subject, few thrills, pleasing sentiment, and adequate presentation.

AT A GLANCE:- Conventional crime drama, one which rings the changes on an old theme with only a moderate success. Acting and treatment lacks inspiration, but exciting nature of plot provides fair entertainment. Fair average two feature programme booking. Not suitable for children.

62 mins

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