Thursday, 31 March 2016

The House in Marsh Road (1960)

Jean Linton (Patricia Dainton) is a bit of a cross patch, and it's not surprising given the feckless behaviour of her husband David (Tony Wright).  He's supposed to be writing a novel but all he ever finishes is the odd book review when he's running out of money for booze.  The pair live in a succession of boarding houses, leaving a trail of unpaid landladies behind them.  And now Jean's had to suffer the ultimate humiliation of getting a job.

But their luck suddenly changes with the death of Jean's auntie (it's all right, she barely knew her), who leaves her a house in the country.  It comes complete with a superstitious Irish housekeeper (Anita Sharp-Bolster - what led her from classic Hollywood films of the 40s like Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street to low-budget British fare like this I don't know) who's convinced the house has a permanent resident: a poltergeist she's named Patrick.  And it looks like she might have something there, what with doors mysteriously slamming and an armchair that keeps scuttling across the floor.

David's all for flogging the house (Sam Kydd's offered him the astronomical fee of £6000 for it) and squandering the cash on living the high life in London.  When Jean refuses he finds alternative entertainment in the form of local strumpet Mrs Stockley (Sandra Dorne, the poor filmmaker's Diana Dors), ostensibly employed as his typist.  Jean, meanwhile, is comforted by local estate agent Derek Aylward.  Gradually David comes round to the idea of murdering poor Jean for her inheritance, but Patrick might have something to say about that...

Directed by b-movie veteran Montgomery Tully, The House in Marsh Road looks exactly like what it is - a cheap, quick, second feature.  but Dainton and Wright snipe at each other entertainingly, Dorne's pouty performance is irresistibly camp, and there are some surprisingly effective shocks (a mirror smashing when Mrs Stockley looks into it, a grate suddenly slamming into place to save Jean's life as David tries to push her down a lift shaft), and it's hard not to admire just how brazen a steal from (sorry, homage to) Hitchcock's Suspicion the scene where David brings Jean a glass of poisoned milk is.