The Gaunt Stranger
Time Out saysMichael Balcon's experiment in independent production, an adaptation of Edgar Wallace's The Ringer, still looks good despite its low budget. An intelligent script by Sidney Gilliat effectively tightens up the typical Wallace tale of a master of disguise who outwits the police to carry out his errand of righteous vengeance. From nervy opening to unexpectedly upbeat ending, Forde copes in bold, workmanlike fashion with the convoluted plot, and Ronald Neame's moody photography is adequate compensation for the limited studio setting. Splendidly slimy Lawson gives a virtuoso performance as the degenerate miscreant who doggedly refuses to face his doom, Patricia Roc - the darling of the '40s - makes her debut as a snootily wrong-headed secretary, and Hale proves surprisingly proficient at providing comic relief. All in all, a classic British thriller.