Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Ireland, Honor Blackman, Geoffrey Keen, Eric Pohlmann, Sid James, Liam Redmond, Sydney Tafler, Valerie Vernon, Arnold Marl�, Nora Gordon, Sam Kydd, Ferdy Mayne, Tonia Bern, Arthur Howard, Stan Little
Written by: Richard H. Landau, based on a novel by A.E. Martin
Directed by: Montgomery Tully
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 59
Date: 03/19/2013

Hammer Film Noir Double Features Vols. 4-5 (1955)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Entering The Glass Tomb

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

VCI Entertainment has released two more in their series of double feature DVDs, featuring films from Hammer Studio's pre-horror days. Volume 4 includes Wings of Danger (1952) from the studio's premierdirector, Terence Fisher, and Montgomery Tully's Terror Street (1953).Volume 5 comes with two more Tully films, Paid to Kill (1954) and TheGlass Tomb (1955). I tried looking at one or two of these titles, butthey didn't really come to life for me.

The main object of interest here is The Glass Tomb. Running only 59 minutes, this bizarre little feature revolves around a carnival attraction: "the starving man." Literally, people buy tickets to watch this man, Sapolio (Eric Pohlmann), living in a glass case for 70 days without eating. He shaves, reads his mail, etc., while the crowds watch. The twist here is that Sapolio may have witnessed a murder before starting his latest act, and it's up to his manager, Pel Pelham (John Ireland) to find out what really happened. Tully fills his film with all kinds of lively touches, such as the fact that Pel's son wishes to be a starving man too, someday, when he grows up. Another scene on a train platform drowns out the sound while one man considers how to get rid of the other; the payoff is when the sound comes back up again. The film also features a party full of circus sideshow freaks, and none other than Honor Blackman (future Bond girl and "Avengers" star) plays Pel's wife. Ireland (later in My Darling Clementine, Red River and Spartacus) is the best thing about this film, however, giving an appealingly furrowed, yet commanding performance.

DVD Details: Each disc comes with photo galleries, trailers, and at least one scholarly commentary track.

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