Terror Kills His Eighth Policeman!
The Hour of 13 is directed by Harold French and adapted to screenplay by Leon Gordon and Howard Emmett Rogers from the novel “Mystery of the Dead Police” written by Philip MacDonald. It stars Peter Lawford, Dawn Addams, Roland Culver, Derek Bond, Leslie Dwyer and Michael Hordern. Music is by John Addison and cinematography by Guy Green.
1890, London, and a serial killer known as The Terror is murdering policemen. When gentleman thief Nicholas Revel unwittingly becomes the chief suspect, he must use his guile and wits to prove he’s not the killer; whilst also not getting caught for a jewel robbery he has just committed.
A dandy thief and a serial killer on a collision course.
Philip MacDonald’s novel had already been adapted to screen for the 1934 film, The Mystery of Mr. X, making this a remake. The Hour of 13 is a little cracker of a movie, a genre splicer of some worth, it’s part murder mystery, part police procedural, part romance, part robbery and also funny as well. These all make the picture narratively strong, the threads running concurrently but never once threatening to be complex or cloy the picture.
The backdrop is Victorian London, resplendent with glistening cobbled streets, bulbous street lamps and drizzly mist, where horse drawn taxis thunder down the roads. The protagonists are dandy gents, chirpy workers or beautiful ladies. The antagonist is a Jack the Ripper type, stealthily moving about the murky streets on a mission to kill policemen. We are in a time when wearing a policeman’s helmet can land you one day in prison, where the British Bobby patrols the streets to make the locals feel safe, but they themselves are now not safe.
There’s splendid performances across the board, with a chance to view the gorgeous Dawn Addams in one of her very first roles, a potent score from Addison and the work of French and Green is atmospherically tight to the plotting. Delightful film that deserves to be better known. 8/10