The Secret Partner (1961)
“So Perfect a Crime…So Clever a Criminal! So Dangerous a Scheme!”
Director: Basil Dearden
Cast: Stewart Granger, Bernard Lee, Haya Harareet
Synopsis: An executive officer with a record becomes a suspect when money goes missing from the shipping company vault.
Desperate man hiding behind the upturned collar of his trench coat; tough old cop with cigarette perpetually hanging from the corner of his mouth; fat and sleazy hotel landlord out to make an easy buck – er, pound – all backed by an increasingly intrusive ‘atmospheric’ soundtrack: The Secret Partner tips it’s hat at American thriller/noir movies – and almost pulls it off.
This nifty little thriller features an urbane Stewart Granger as a successful businessman with a guilty secret who is framed for the theft of over £100,000 from his employer. While following Granger’s attempts to prove his innocence, the plot focuses periodically on a succession of characters – all friends or work colleagues of Granger’s – throwing suspicion on them all.
Granger is stoical throughout, and Bernard Lee turns in a typically professional performance as the crusty old policeman on the verge of retirement, while Haya Harareet looks pretty while having little to do.
Only the ending lets the film down a little for me. A successful twist, which highlights the cleverness of the intriguing plot, is revealed a little too early, leaving the film to slowly fizzle out. All in all, however, it’s a forgotten gem that is well worth seeking out.
(Reviewed 17th January 2002)