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October Man, The (1947, John Mills, Joan Greenwood)



Novelist Eric Ambler made a skilful and tense screen adaptation of his own novel and co-produced the thriller (with Filippo del Guidice) and, wrote the Daily Mirror , ‘ The October Man is a whodunit that is different – a picture about real people in a rural English setting which grips from start to finish’.

John Mills, excellent in the role, is The October Man , having developed suicidal tendencies after an accident in which a child was killed and he sustained brain injuries. He is discharged after a year in hospital, returns to his job as a research chemist, and moves into a gradually decaying hotel in west London. There he is befriended by model Kay Walsh which arouses the animosity of fellow-boarder Edward Chapman who dislikes her. Mills starts a romance with Joan Greenwood, the sister of his colleague Patrick Holt.

Then, shortly after lending money to Walsh, she is found strangled. Mills is suspected and the real killer, Chapman, begins to taunt him and Mills starts to crack up.

Ambler’s cunningly constructed screenplay received taut and accomplished direction from Roy Ward Baker whose subsequent career included a stint in Hollywood in the 1950s and a period in horror movies for Hammer. Said The Daily Mail : ‘A new director, Roy Baker, makes a conspicuous debut, and shows he understand the dramatic value of silences as well as how to work up to a shrill climax’. Appearing with Mills in the opening scenes is his daughter Juliet making her third film appearance since her debut, aged one, in 1942’s In Which We Serve.

production details
UK | GFD | 95 minutes | 1947

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Eric Ambler, from his novel

Joyce Carey as Mrs. Vinton
Edward Chapman as Mr. Peachy
John Mills as Jim Ackland
Kay Walsh as Molly Newman
Catherine Lacey as Miss Selby
Joan Greenwood as Jenny Carden
Adrianne Allen as Joyce Carden
Felix Aylmer as Dr. Martin
Frederick Piper as Det. Insp. Godby
John Boxer as Det. Sgt. Troth
Patrick Holt as Harry Carden
George Benson as Mr. Pope
Jack Melford as Wilcox
Esme Beringer as Miss Heap
Ann Wilton as Miss Parsons
James Hayter as Garage Man
Frank Ling as Booking Office Clerk
Juliet Mills as Child
George Woodbridge as Grey
Philip Ray as Stebbins
Edward Underdown as Passport Official
John Salew as Ticket Inspector