Cast & Crew
The son of a Victorian hangman is driven insane by thoughts of his father's profession. The young man emulates his father by strangling young women. He then meets and falls in love with a woman but can he suppress his urge to kill her ?
Wanted for Murder - A serial strangler terrorizes London in WANTED FOR MURDER
Wanted for Murder was written by Emeric Pressburger, who is best known for his collaboration with director Michael Powell on such British cinema landmarks as The Red Shoes (1948), The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) and Black Narcissus (1947). The director, Lawrence Huntington, though not well known in the U.S., was prolific in the B-movie industry in England and turned out several superior film noirs. Wanted for Murder is one of his best and, in spite of its meager budget, effectively imitates the posh set design and claustrophobic atmosphere of more lavishly produced melodramas like Gaslight (1944). Wanted for Murder also predates some of the themes and plot devices that later appeared in the work of Alfred Hitchcock. For one thing, the serial strangler appears to have an Oedipus complex, not unlike the Robert Walker character in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951). Plus, the chief suspect in the case (Derek Farr) is completely innocent, just like Jon Finch's character in Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), but it takes the police eons to figure this out while the murderer continues his stranglings. There are other movie references as well. Eric Portman's tormented killer is comparable to John Carradine in Edgar Ulmer's Bluebeard (1944) in the way that he gradually falls in love with his intended victim. One also thinks of The Bad Seed (1956) and its theme of inherited evil when it is revealed that Victor is the son of a professional executioner - a hangman.
The All Day DVD of Wanted for Murder comes in an attractive snapper case with some brief liner notes. The extras, though sparse, include the original theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. Image quality is impressive considering the age of the negative, though there are some abrupt frame splices in the opening credits as well as random speckling and minor scratches on the print throughout its duration. The sound quality is more problematic. A constant static buzz can be detected underneath the audio though the dialogue is perfectly audible and there are occasional moments of slight audio distortion during the musical passages - the score by Mischa Spoliansky featuring the theme song "A Voice in the Night" is appropriately dramatic and haunting. But overall All Day is to be commended for preserving another fascinating obscurity from the B-movie archives of the British film industry. If you enjoyed their previous restorations of Frank Tuttle's Gunman in the Streets (1950) or Edgar Ulmer's Strange Illusion (1945), then you'll want to add Wanted for Murder to your collection of offbeat noirs.
For more information on Wanted for Murder, visit All Day Entertainment. To purchase a copy of Wanted for Murder, visit Movies Unlimited.
By Jeff Stafford