The Malpas Mystery (1960)

Article #1243 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-9-2004
Posting Date: 1-6-2005
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Featuring Maureen Swanson, Allan Cuthbertson, Geoffrey Keen

A woman just released from prison (for a crime she didn’t commit) becomes involved with a mysterious recluse known as Malpas.

From the style of the beginning and ending credits of this movie, as well as its length (my print runs a mere 53 minutes), I’m guessing that this mystery-thriller based on an Edgar Wallace novel actually was from a TV production, but I can’t really find much information to confirm or deny this. Though not a horror movie per se, its horror elements are quite striking; the mysterious Malpas wears a mask to disguise his features, and he sits alone in a dark room and controls the doors and lights in his house by remote control. These elements give an eerie sense of dread to the proceedings that really catches your attention. This is good, because as a whole, the movie feels confused and rushed; I suspect that 53 minutes is just not long enough to effectively tell this tale. I also felt somewhat disappointed by the revelation of Malpas’s identity, not so much for who it is (which turns out to be extremely logical), but for its timing; it lets the cat out of the bag, but then continues for several more minutes acting as if his identity is still a mystery, and this left me feeling a little frustrated. It’s not bad overall, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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