Vengeance Is Mine Film Details
Overview: Believing himself to be dying, a man hires an assassin to kill him so he can frame an enemy for the death.
Review: From 1943, Valentine Dyall was making himself one of the most well-known voices in Britain as the so-called ‘Man in black’, host of the popular BBC radio series Appointment With Fear. He was frequently seen on screen also though usually just in supporting starring roles, so Vengeance Is Mine is a rare opportunity to see him as the lead. Dyall plays Charles Heywood, an embittered man whom we learn has recently been released from prison. He had spent several years incarcerated after being framed by a crooked business partner, Richard Kemp (Arthur Brander). By making the evidence point towards Heywood, Kemp was able to remain free and continue to build his own corrupt business empire. Now that he is at liberty once more, Heywood is determined to revenge himself by bringing Kemp to ruin, and recruits some old friends to assist him, notably Stacy, played by the ever-reliable Sam Kydd, one of the most ubiquitous faces in post-war British cinema. However, events take an unexpected turn when Heywood falls ill. An initial diagnosis gives him just six months to live, which leaves Heywood with the prospect of falling short in his plan to bring down Kemp. He then devises another scheme and hires a hitman to give him a quick, mercy killing before his illness can run its course, but to make the death look like an act of murder on Kemp’s part. This will give Heywood the satisfaction he craves even in death. But when Heywood subsequently decides to cancel that plan, he can’t as the hitman is nowhere to be found. Consequently Heywood must live with the knowledge that he could be murdered at any time… This was a low-budget affair hence being devoid of any real big names in the cast. Most of the hour-long running time is taken up with conversation in the confines of an office and has a rather stagey feel, not helped by some rather flat, clichéd dialogue: “A man can do a lot of thinking in prison”, “I know what you’re thinking, that I’m mad, but I’m not, just hear me out.” etc etc. Although the premise has excellent potential for drama, the plot construction is very awkward. Considering the short running time of the piece, the audience has to wait too long for Heywood to explain his plan, and when he finally does, this is by means of a long-winded flashback which shows nothing of his original interaction with his enemy or of his arrest, yet labours on him renting a new office and negotiating the price. It’s not even all that clear why Heywood needs a new office and a secretary anyway, except of course that she acts as his love interest in the last third of the film, a relationship which isn’t explored very deeply. The eventual confrontation between Heywood and Kemp at the climax is brief and not really worth the wait. The film’s greatest triumph is arguably the choice of Richard Goolden to play the hired assassin, Parsons. Not the expected moody, sinister character but a rather genial, well-spoken gentleman. This actually makes a lot of sense, as such an individual would attract a lot less suspicion and be able to strike at targets from close range. Overall, this is a rather thin and clumsy realisation of a decent story. Even within the tight constraints of the budget, much more could have been done to tell the story in a more exciting, dramatic fashion. However, the decent premise and cast make it a pleasing watch, if one can put up with the rather inferior standard of the film print which is used for the current TV broadcasts.
Duration: 59 min
Genre: Crime, Drama
Also known as: Vengeance Is Mine