Shadow Man (1953)

Written by John Chard on March 24, 2014

Pin-Table Murder: Surprise Development.

Street of Shadows (AKA: Shadow Man) is directed by Richard Vernon, who also adapts the screenplay from the novel “The Creaking Chair” written by Laurence Meynell. It stars Cesar Romero, Victor Maddern, Kay Kendall, Simone Silva, John Penrose, Bill Travers and Liam Gaffney. Music is by Eric Spear, with harmonica by Tommy Reilly, and cinematography is by Phil Grindod.

A good old frame-up thriller with noir styling, Street of Shadows finds Romero as Luigi, the manager of a gaming premises in London’s Soho area. When an old acquaintance of his, Angele Abbe (Silva), is found murdered in his apartment, he’s naturally the chief suspect. Forced to go on the run, Luigi hopes that the police or himself can find the real culprit soon.

The story is pretty conventional stuff, with the mystery element none existent since it can only really be one person who committed the murder. However, the benefits elsewhere make this worth sampling by the film noir faithful, even if it’s not what you would call essential viewing.

The whole picture is filmed in the noir style, Vernon and Grindod not missing any opportunities for a bit of shadow play or psychologically tinted contrast usage. The backdrop is a dour London of dark streets and alleyways, a dank part of the city where sordid characters go about their respective business. These people are either carrying some sort of affliction, aggressive or are emotionally stunted. An abused wife, a sexually frustrated janitor with a foot disability, card sharps, a man with huge cauliflower ears, a playboy, ladies of the night, or in the case of Luigi, someone who you really wouldn’t want to count on.

Police Close Pin-Table Saloon!

Luigi’s Pin-Table business is delightfully dingy, filled out with slot machines and macabre looking games such as a laughing sailor or Konki The Clown: Fortune Teller. Breezing around the place are the two gals, Angele and Barbara Gale (Kendall), getting the lads hot under the collar, while the human fortune teller Starry Darrell (Molly Hamley Clifford) is a splendid character capable of smoothing out Luigi’s edges. Acting is good, with Maddern the stand out performer, and how nice to hear good quality Harmonica as part of a musical score. 6/10