Parody or Thriller? Ambler’s “Highly Dangerous” (1950)

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Highly Dangerous (1950) is an entertaining amateur-turned-spy British espionage adventure film, elevated by the presence of Margaret Lockwood and several skilled character actors.  Lockwood plays Dr. Frances Gray, a renowned entomologist [translation: bug scientist] who’s about to begin a long-awaited holiday when the British government requests her services as a spy.  A tiny (fictional) European country is rumored to be experimenting with insects as vectors for biological warfare, and Britain needs an entomologist to confirm its suspicions by identifying samples from a top-secret research facility.  Initially, Dr. Gray refuses, figuring that there are plenty of scientists but few vacation days…
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Man of the Moment (1935)

Man of the Moment (1935)

 

1935’s Man of the Moment is a surprisingly funny, if slightly dark, little gem of a romantic comedy made in Britain, but starring two American actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Laura La Plante.

Snapshot Summary: Laura La Plante plays Mary Briany, a London secretary in love with her boss (Wyndham Goldie), who barely realizes she exists. After said boss arrives late to work with the other secretary in tow, both still in evening clothes, and Mary’s demoted doing the other secretary’s grunt work…well, she’s had it. She quits on the spot. Inspired by a sensationalist account of a recent suicide whose unrequited love wept bitter tears after her death, Mary tries unsuccessfully to drown herself in the river. (“I intend to die with an expression of peace on my face that surpasses understanding!”) Under protest, she’s fished out by a passing gentleman named Tony Randall (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), who takes her home to keep her from being arrested (suicide is a crime, you know!), dry off, and straighten up. Trouble is, Mary wants no part of this rescuing business, and Tony, who is flat broke and engaged to be married in the morning to his wealthy fiancée, finds himself stuck between keeping Mary from escaping back to the river, and his fiancée from discovering that there’s a woman hiding in his spare room.

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