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Ella Raines  



Gibralter Films, Ltd., 1956.  Directed by Lance Comfort.  Camera:  Stanley Pavey.  With Derek Farr, Ella Raines, Donald Wolfit, Lisa Daniely, Bruce Beeby, Russell Napier, Cyril Cusack, Frederick Piper, Karel Stepanek, Alfred Maron, John Welsh, Olive Sloane, Jim O'Brady.

After an introductory scene in which a car is waylaid on a narrow English country lane, a corpse substituted for the driver and the car doused with gasoline and set on fire, a man (Derek Farr) wakes up in a private hospital.

His amiable but vaguely sinister attending physician, Professor Cattrell (Donald Wolfit) tells the man that he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident, and his name
according to the wallet found in his suitis Ivan Mason.  There's just one problem:  Mason can't remember his past.  Or rather, what he does remember doesn't jibe with who they tell him he is, and every time he has one of these "false" memories he gets a blinding headache.  Mason slowly begins to suspect there's something not quite right going on, even as Cattrell confronts him with all sorts of evidence that he really is Mason.

Both the amnesia and the headaches are the results of Cattrell's hypnosis, as part of a devious Commie plot to get Mason
in actuality a top nuclear physicistto voluntarily go to Russia. Where, of course, his amnesia will be "cured" and all his nuclear secrets extracted.

Although when you think about it, the plan seems both cumbersome and far-fetched, the players make it look fairly convincing.  One of the great things about these British B films is the level of acting talent they could draw on for supporting characters, actors like Wolfit and Cyril Cusack and Karel Stepanek.  Sure, the leading man is rather wooden, but strikingly beautiful Ella Raines (in what was, sadly, her last big-screen appearance) more than compensates for Farr's deficiencies.

Stanley Pavey's black-and-white cinematography is crisply competent, with plenty of shadows and low angle shots to instill an appropriately paranoid atmosphere.

This is a distinctly minor thriller, compared to the likes of "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," but still, it has its moments, and (mostly) manages to hold the viewer's interest until the end.