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  Dick Barton Strikes Back In One Ear And Out The OtherBuy this film here.
Year: 1949
Director: Godfrey Grayson
Stars: Don Stannard, Bruce Walker, Sebastian Cabot, Jean Lodge, James Raglan, Humphrey Kent, Sidney Vivian, John Harvey, Morris Sweden
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A mysterious foreign man, Fouracada (Sebastian Cabot), is on a flight landing in Britain, little knowing that he is being trailed by a secret agent, Creston (Morris Sweden), sitting a few seats behind him. Meeting Creston at the airport is another secret agent, Dick Barton (Don Stannard) and his right hand man Snowey White (Bruce Walker), but at first Creston walks right past them without acknowledgement. Barton approaches him, only to be told in hushed tones that Fouracada is a dangerous man, and that they should meet the agent in the Garcia Club later for the whole story. This they do, and while Fouracada can be seen standing at the bar Creston is nowhere to be found; there's a reason for that - he's dead in a back room, as Barton will soon find out...

Not quite as lavish as The Empire Strikes Back, but in places just as exciting, Dick Barton Strikes Back was scripted by Elizabeth Baron and Ambrose Grayson and based on the popular B.B.C. radio serial. This was the last Barton film to be made but the second to be released, perhaps because of its higher quality compared to Dick Barton At Bay, the second film produced, or perhaps because the first, Dick Barton Special Agent, was still doing good business. Sadly, no more films were made by Hammer featuring this famous character because its star, Stannard, died in a tragic car crash after a party celebrating the release of this film, which on the strength of this episode was a real loss, especially as Stannard was so obviously suited to the role.

Still, we have this, the best in the series, to remember him by. It's no surprise that Barton and Snowey find themselves tied up yet again in that back room, with Fouracada leaving the gas on which will explode when it touches a naked flame. As our heroes manage to escape fairly easily from this trap, you wonder as with the spy's successors, the James Bond films, why the villain doesn't just shoot his adversaries and save himself a lot of trouble. But of course, if he did that the film would be even shorter (it's just over an hour long as it is), and soon Barton is on the trail of Fouracada, but not able to work out his devious plans.

Then sobering news arrives: a small village has been wiped out, every one of its citizens killed by having their brains dehydrated and shrivelled (!) but without a mark to be seen on their bodies. What could have caused this? We still don't know, and Barton and Snowey stay over at the nearby mansion house of Lord Armadale (James Raglan) to decide on their next course of action. There they meet Armadale's Hungarian secretary Tina (Jean Lodge; her whole name would be too difficult to pronounce, she says) and the plot thickens with Barton suspecting she is more involved than she is letting on. And then, the following night, a strange, eerie wail is heard across the countryside...

Another village has had their population devastated, and the chance discovery of a headset, and the realisation that a travelling fairground may have a lot to do with the killings puts Barton on the right track. What Fouracada is utilising is a sound weapon, powered by the fairground's generators, a fairground run by Fouracada's countrymen. The location shooting helps give an immediacy to the action, none more so than in the story's climax set on Blackpool Tower as Barton battles in a race against time which is genuinely suspenseful and sees the tale off with flair. An excellent example of pure pulp cinema, Dick Barton Strikes Back is solidly entertaining and never flags, right up to the finish line. Music by Rupert Grayson and Frank Spencer (not the sitcom one).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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