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The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939, Leslie Banks)

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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 John Doyce (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 Anthony Slade (Leslie Banks) is called in. In the course of his investigation he discovers plenty of suspects. Among them are Gwen Lee (Greta Gynt), Bushell’s discarded mistress; her fiancé Philip Morring (Brian Worth); Kindilett (Wyndham Goldie), whose daughter had killed herself on Doyce’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.

Cast: Dennis Wyndham as Commissionaire; Esmond Knight as Raille – Trojan Team Member; Greta Gynt as Gwen Lee; Brian Worth as Philip Morring – Trojan Team Member; Vincent Holman as Coroner; Leslie Banks as Inspector Anthony Slade; David Keir as Dr. Meadow; Ian McLean as Sergeant Clinton; Liane Linden as Inga Larson; Anthony Bushell as John Doyce – Trojan Team Member; Richard Norris as Setchley – Trojan Team Member; Wyndham Goldie as Kindilett; Alastair MacIntyre as Carter; George Allison as Himself; Tom Whittaker as Himself; E.V.H. Emmett as Himself; Johnnie Schofield as Arsenal doctor; Bruce Winston as Composer; Maire O’Neill as Housekeeper; Cliff Bastin as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; Gordon Bremner as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; Jack Crayston as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; P.R. Crompton as Trojan Team Member; H.A. Davies as Trojan Captain; Ted Drake as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; Alf Fields as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; K. Goodyear as Trojan Team Member; Eddie Hapgood as Himself – Arsenal Captain; Bryn Jones as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; Leslie Jones as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; Alf Kirchen as Himself -Arsenal Team Member; R.W. Lees as Trojan Team Member; W.J. Lewington as Referee; George Male as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; J.W. Naylor as Trojan Team Member; S. Schofield as Trojan Team Member; R. Sturdy as Trojan Team Member; George Swindin as Himself – Arsenal Team Member; R. Woods as Trojan Team Member; Mike Johnson as Programme Seller; Vi Kaley as Neighbour At Window; Charles Rolfe as Witness

Writers: Thorold Dickinson, Donald Bull, from the novel by Leonard Gribble / Director: Thorold Dickinson

UK | 84 minutes | 1939