Review of “The Third Visitor” (1951)

from IMDB

For Saturday pizza and bad movie night, we came up with something a little different.

Plot:

Police identify a body found at the home of Ricard Carling (Karel Stepanek) as that of Carling himself, though the face has been so badly mutilated it’s hard to be sure. The viewer has seen two people come to visit Carling. The first was his business partner, Jack Kurton (Hubert Gregg), whom Carling sent out of town on a fool’s errand late at night, knowing that Kurton was tired. He wouldn’t let him stay at his own house, despite knowing that his wife wasn’t expecting him home for another day. Carling appears to be expecting a lady caller.

Instead, James Oliver arrives. There is bad blood between the two of them. Oliver tries to intimidate Carling. He picks up a heavy metal figurine from the fireplace mantel and swings it at Carling. The viewer doesn’t see what happens but hears the noise of a struggle.

Steffy and Bill Millington (Sonia Dresdel and Colin Gordon), who seem to have no connection to Carling, receive their friend, Vera Kurton (Eleanor Summerfield), early in the morning. She is the wife of Jack Kurton, and arrives with a suitcase, begging them to tell Jack she spent the night with them, although she offers no explanation as to where she’s been. Could she be the lady caller Carling expected? Is that why Carling sent her husband on the fool’s errand?

Carling received information while Kurton was still with him that a person named Hewson is now out of the asylum in France. The doctor who committed him had some crooked deal with Carling. Could Hewson have returned for revenge?

Carling was a jerk. Could the butler have done it?

Thoughts:

This is an intriguing flick, but it starts out a little confusing. The first thing the viewer sees is a woman tied to a wall, screaming as some unseen menace approaches her. The next scene is Steffy Millington applying make-up in her bathroom mirror. The phone rings, and she rouses her husband out of bed to answer it. The mood is lighthearted and amusing, a complete contrast to the opening scene. Immediately, the viewer likes these two people. The dialogue here is enjoyable, as it is in most of the film.

When James Oliver tries to bully a woman behind a desk at a hotel for a phonebook to find Carling’s address, he is at first ignored. The woman then asks:

“Phone directory? Which one?”

“Which one?” he echoes. “You have ’em in mint flavor?”

“What letter does the name begin with, sir?”

This film is not a farce. It is in deadly earnest, yet it can sprinkle in these cute exchanges without batting an eye.

The whodunit aspect of the movie is confusing for a while, but it makes sense at the end. No rabbit pops out of a hat. There are enough distractions to keep the viewer occupied. All is not as it seems at first glance. It would be a boring movie if it were.

I also liked the music. So much of movie music, particularly in older movies, tends to be overwrought. They managed to work in some Bruckner.

Of course, it’s not perfect. The airline clerk, supposedly American, sounds awfully British, both in accent and diction. Small gripe.

This is a black-and-white movie from 1951. One cannot expect the booms and boobs of a PG-13 rated film of the present. I enjoyed this film.

For some reason, it’s available on YouTube under the god-awful name The Tertiary Caller. Whether that’s the original name or something else, I can’t say.



Title: The Third Visitor (1951)

Directed by
Maurice Elvey

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Gerald Anstruther…(play)
Gerald Anstruther…(screenplay)
David Evans

Cast (in credits order)
Sonia Dresdel…Steffy Millington
Guy Middleton…Inspector Mallory
Hubert Gregg…Jack Kurton
Colin Gordon…Bill Millington
Karel Stepanek…Richard Carling
Eleanor Summerfield…Vera Kurton
John Slater…James Oliver
Michael Martin Harvey…Hewson (as Michael Martin-Harvey)
Cyril Smith…Detective Horton

Released: January 1951 (UK)
Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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