Cloudburst


1h 23m 1952

Brief Synopsis

A WWII code breaker tracks down his wife's killers.

Film Details

Also Known As
Operation Disaster
Genre
Action
Mystery
Release Date
Jan 31, 1952
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Exclusive Films, Ltd.; Hollywood Exclusive Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Bray, England, Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain; Windsor, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Cloudburst by Leo Marks (production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Film Length
7,470ft

Synopsis

In London in 1946, John Graham's decoder team easily deciphers a coded message, the contents of which will bring a World War II criminal to justice. When John's pregnant wife Carol picks him up that evening, he hides a coded list he has made of the presents he plans to buy her. During the war, Carol fought in the Resistance alongside John, and was captured by Gestapo soldiers wanting information on John's whereabouts. Although they tortured her by laying bare a nerve in her leg and eventually cutting it, she never capitulated, thus saving John's life. John is completely devoted to his wife but cannot forget her sacrifice or his bitterness, and Carol, who has a permanent limp, tries to calm his occasional outbursts. She carries her own anger, however, which erupts later that night after they bring her sister, Peggy Reece, to the train station. On the trip back, they hear that a couple has murdered a night watchman in a nearby town, and Carol asserts that if she were the watchman's widow, she would hunt the couple down and kill them, her anger hounding her like a cloudburst. They stop and John insists that Carol view a field that he wants to buy for his children, but when she falls in the road, a speeding car runs her over. Desperate, John asks the couple in the car to help bring Carol to a hospital, but they refuse. While he grabs at the man, the woman stabs John with scissors until he falls out of the car, at which point they drive away. Hours later, Carol has died, and John lies to the police that the car contained only one person. He then invites Peggy and his mother-in-law to live with him, declaring that he feels not like Mrs. Reece's son-in-law but her son. Taking a leave of absence, he visits his old Resistance mate Jackie, and asks him to trace the killers' license plate. Then, he visits the gym where another fellow commando, Chuck Peters, works, and relates the details he noticed about the car's driver: he was called Mick and had the hands of a boxer. By perusing Chuck's photo albums, John finds a picture identifying the man in the car as onetime boxer Mickie Frasier. Soon after, Jackie traces the plates to Mickie's apartment, and John goes there and beats Mickie up. He ties the ex-fighter to a pole and begins to torture him, quickly eliciting the name and address of Mickie's passenger, Lorna Dawson. John then brings Mickie to a deserted stretch of road, forces him to run in front of the car and John runs him over in retribution for Carol's death. Scotland Yard Inspector Davis is assigned to the case and, upon discovering John's coded gift list on the floor of Chuck's office, assumes it belongs to Mickie's killer. Davis brings the note to John to decipher and gives him the names and addresses of Mickie's friends, including Lorna. That night, John goes to Lorna's apartment, but is surprised there by Davis. Hiding his face, John punches the inspector and jumps out the window to the street. The next day, by appraising his attacker's stealth, size and skill, Davis concludes that he must be a commando fighter. Then, while searching for recent accident victims, Davis discovers the record of Carol's death and deduces that after Mickie killed the watchman and Carol, John killed Mickie. He visits John and asks him to confess, pointing out that John is now challenging the very law that his wife suffered to protect. He brings John and, secretly, Lorna, to the scene of Carol's death, hoping that John will attack Lorna. John, however, is sure that Carol would want him to carry on, and so refuses to respond. The next day, John learns from a detective that Lorna is being transported to a prison. He asks Jackie for fake license plates, and although Jackie senses that John is ill and tries to prevent him from leaving, John states that his life is already ruined and pushes Jackie away. He drives to Lorna's prison and, when the guards pull her out of the car, runs her over. That night, John returns to his office, where his team has been struggling vainly to break the code of his gift list. Seeing Davis standing at the door, John reveals that the code's key word is Carol, and that they should never give up when their work seems impossible because everything can be broken, especially people. He then considers killing himself, but instead shares a drink with Davis and leaves under the inspector's custody.

Film Details

Also Known As
Operation Disaster
Genre
Action
Mystery
Release Date
Jan 31, 1952
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Exclusive Films, Ltd.; Hollywood Exclusive Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Bray, England, Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain; Windsor, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Cloudburst by Leo Marks (production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Film Length
7,470ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Operation Disaster. The order of the opening cast credits differs slightly from that of the end credits. On the print viewed, actress Mary Germaine is listed in the opening credits as "Marie Germaine." Cloudburst was shot in London as a co-production between filmmaker Alexander Paal and producer Rudolph Monter. According to the February 1952 Variety review, Paal and Monter worked "in conjunction" with James Carreras of Britain's Exclusive Films, Ltd. A January 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item reports that Monter formed Hollywood Exclusive Films, Inc. to produce this film, and that Eagle-Lion Classics was originally set to distribute it. The Variety review states that United Artists bought a block of films from Eagle-Lion in 1951, including Cloudburst. The film was released in England in 1951. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Campbell Cotts and Vorman Williams in the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.