In The Arsenal Stadium Mystery Director Thorold Dickinson collaborated with Donald Bull in writing the screen adaptation of Leonard Gribble’s novel for a slice of vintage British thrills.
Most unusual of these accessories was the setting – Arsenal Football Club’s Highbury Stadium – and the presence of the Arsenal team complete with manager George Allison. The occasion is a charity soccer match between Arsenal and the Trojans, a champion team of amateurs, during which the Trojans’ brilliant-but-conceited centre forward Anthony Bushell collapses and dies and is found to have been murdered by means, it transpires, of a poisoned ring.
The match is stopped and Scotland Yard inspector Leslie Banks is called in. In the course of his investigation he discovers plenty of suspects. Among them are Greta Gynt, Bushell’s discarded mistress; her fiancé Brian Worth; Wyndham Goldie, whose daughter had killed herself on Bushell’s account and, for good measure, two other Trojans team members. A second murder occurs before Banks finally unmasks the killer during a replay of the Arsenal – Trojans game.
Dickinson, who also served as his own cinematographer, uses Highbury locations to add impact to the narrative and draws strong performances from his cast, notably from Banks. There was praise, too, for Arsenal manager George Allison’s appearance as himself and for the legendary commentator E V H Emmett who, unsurprisingly, appeared as a commentator on the match.
UK / 1939
Director: Thorold Dickinson
Writers: Thorold Dickinson, Donald Bull, from the novel by Leonard Gribble
Cast: Leslie Banks, Greta Gynt, Ian Maclean, Esmond Knight, Brian Worth