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FATHER BROWN
THE DETECTIVE
1954, Sony Repertory, 91 min, UK, Dir: Robert Hamer

Alec Guinness portrays G. K. Chesterton’s mild-mannered but very shrewd detective Father Brown. Pursuing dapper jewel thief Flambeau (Peter Finch) through England and France, Brown is as eager to save the man’s soul as he is to recover the loot. Constantly amusing, with a formidable cast that also includes Joan Greenwood and Bernard Lee (M in the early Bond films) as a police inspector whose patience is sorely tested by the amateur sleuth cleric. “The near-sighted priest, who learns the secrets of unarmed combat from some of the tougher members of his flock, is admirably brought to life by Guinness. His performance, good though it is, does not overshadow a first-class thesping job by Peter Finch as the international thief who likes to collect the rare treasures he cannot afford.” -Variety


THE SCAPEGOAT
1959, Warner Bros., 91 min, UK, USA, Dir: Robert Hamer

Director Robert Hamer and Gore Vidal adapted Daphne du Maurier’s novel for this intriguing mystery, and du Maurier herself suggested Alec Guinness for the dual lead roles of British teacher John Barratt and French nobleman Jacques De Gué, look-alikes who meet by chance and spend a night drinking together. When Barratt awakes, his passport is gone and he’s plunged into De Gué’s convoluted private life - which includes a wealthy wife (Irene Worth) and an imperious mother (Bette Davis). Guinness played multiple parts in Hamer’s KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS and, as in that earlier film, royal titles and murder figure into the plot.


KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS
1949, Rialto Pictures, 106 min, UK, Dir: Robert Hamer

“It is so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms,” reflects Louis Mazzini (a marvelously droll Dennis Price), who gets closer to his mother’s estranged family for the sole purpose of bumping them off and inheriting a dukedom. The eight members of the D'Ascoyne clan who stand between Mazzini and his title are all played by Alec Guinness, whose remarkable turns as British aristocrats of various ages and genders earned a National Board of Review Best Actor award. Among the first and best of the legendary Ealing Studios comedies.


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