Writer-director Radley Metzger’s forgettable 1978 British second remake of the classic old dark house comedy thriller at least boasts an interesting all-star cast. It stars Honor Blackman, Michael Callan, Edward Fox, Wendy Hiller, Beatrix Lehmann, Olivia Hussey, Daniel Massey, Carol Lynley, Peter McEnery and Wilfrid Hyde White.
With Metzger’s screenplay again based on John Willard’s long-running 1922 stage play, the familiar story is about a group of people trapped in a mansion and being bumped off one by one. It begins on the 20th anniversary of the death of Cyrus West (Wilfrid Hyde White), when his relatives are called to his mansion to view the filmed reading of his will.
A fight starts for his fortune when it is revealed that his niece Annabelle West (Carol Lynley) is to be the sole beneficiary. Annabelle can only get the money if she proves her sanity the following day after spending the night in the house with the greedy family.
Though it is a good old story and the film is strongly cast with a ripe collection of show-off performers, it is short on laughs, suspense or chills thanks to Metzger’s low-voltage writing and under-powered direction.
The bottom line is that both 1927 and 1939 Hollywood versions are classics and this one is not.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4427
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