'The script was a stinker,' was Powell's justifiable comment in his autobiography. A whodunit in the most antiquated sub-Agatha Christie mode, it has a lecherous newspaper baron (Keen) try to blackmail an indiscreet girl (Keats), daughter of the Commissioner of Police (Banks), into submitting to his unwelcome attentions. During a game of 'Murder' at a society party, the lecher, unsurprisingly, is murdered. The routine expository labour of setting everybody up with a motive (there's even a sinister butler) is leavened by Powell's willingness to give the actors time and space; he makes a mini bravura triumph of the party sequence by shooting the 'Murder' game in darkness, with intermittent illumination by firelight and a flickering neon sign; and the final court scene, after the usual routine of police interrogation and politic confessions, is enlivened by a magnificently dotty performance from Ernest Thesiger at his most malignantly epicene. The end result is much more fun than it has any right to be.
The Night of the Party
Cast and crew