Cockrill Crows Over Crime
When it comes to bygone British cinema you can pretty much bet that a movie starring Alastair Sim is going to entertain and "Green for Danger" certainly does. Here we have a playful murder mystery as a quirky Inspector is called in to solve a couple of murders at a hospital where all the suspects have motives for murder. It is that simple but "Green for Danger" is one of those movies where everything works, the cinematography and use of shadows is brilliant, the direction and pacing keeps it skipping along at a trot and the quirkiness of Alastair Sim makes for an almost macabre tone. But more importantly whilst Sim will make you smile the solving of the who done it will have you gripped, delivering twists right up until the last.
When a postman injured in a bombing dies on the operating table, a nurse declares that she knows who killed him only to then be murdered before she can prove it. Enter Inspector Cockrill (Alastair Sim - Cottage to Let) who quickly comes to the assumption that the 5 people in the operating room are his suspects and slowly and macabrely goes about solving which of the doctors and nurses is the murderer, all of whom have motive to have killed.
You can split "Green for Danger" in two because you have a murder mystery and dark humour, which interweave nicely to create an amusing but intelligent thriller. Now that is actually quite surprising because many thrillers, especially those which are murder mysteries that try to be funny never get the balance right but here director Sidney Gilliat gets it spot on. He quickly gets us gripped by the mystery as we realise that each person has motive but he has us laughing at the quirkiness of Cockrill who enjoys interrogating the doctors and nurses, almost toying with them with his sinister tones.
But as I said you can split "Green for Danger" in two and the murder mystery side of it is brilliant as we do slowly discover motives and possible motives. We have the suggestion that with Dr. Barnes having lost a patient once before that Dr. Eden is setting him up to get rid of him so that he can try and steal his girlfriend. But then we also have the threatening way in which Dr. Eden speaks to Nurse Sanson, trying to get her to leave and what about Nurse Woods whose voice is familiar to the postman before he is put under. It is all these little things which has us guessing right up until the last as to who is behind the murders but we also have the guessing as to how they did it.
But then there is the flip side to this, the dark humour with Alastair Sim as the macabre and quirky Inspector Cockrill. Now first thing it has to be said that the entire cast which includes Trevor Howard, Leo Genn and Megs Jenkins all deliver solid performances and not a single one lets the movie down but Sim is the star of the movie. Just are comical introduction to Cockrill highlights the visual humour of Sim as he ducks when he hears the sound of a doodlebug over head. But then you have the lyrical and macabre tone when Cockrill starts questioning the doctors and nurses, smiling as he drops a suggestive comment in there about having motive. It makes this murder mystery playful as well as gripping.
What this all boils down to is that "Green for Danger" is for me not only a brilliant murder mystery movie but one of the best when it comes to adding humour into the mix. It is Alastair Sim's performance which sells it but nothing should be taken away from director Sidney Gilliat who creates a gripping murder mystery with some great cinematography.