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Child in the House (1956)


Stanley Baker in a film noir tearjerker? Practically. He’s the estranged career criminal husband of a woman who’s been removed to hospital, seriously ill. Their young daughter (Mandy Miller) has to stay with her aunt Phyllis Calvert and uncle Eric Portman, in a very troubled childless marriage. She’s not enamoured of children, he is.  Father and daughter meet in secret but he’s on the lam again, leading to complications. Cy Endfield (working pseudonymously) was reunited with Miller from the earlier The Secret (starring his fellow blacklistee Sam Wanamaker) but she was of course best known throughout Britain as Mandy from the 1952 film of that name in which she played a deaf mute, with Calvert playing her mother. She also enjoyed fame from her 1956 recording of Nellie the Elephant. She’s a very convincing actress here and continued professionally until 1963 when she relocated to New York, became an au pair and got married. This was the first of Endfield’s collaborations with Baker, which brought us the brilliant Hell Drivers the following year, followed by Sea Fury, Jet Storm, Zulu and Sands of the Kalahari.  This was adapted from the novel of the same title by Joan McNeill, a prolific Irish writer little mentioned nowadays. There is some terrific location shooting – and who doesn’t want to see Fifties London fog?


About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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