The Hour of 13

The black-and-white mystery from 1952 is the kind of late-Victorian period piece where you’ll hear lots of lines like, “Where to, guv’nor?” (I’m not certain, but “You look as shocked as if I caught you in a Turkish bath!” might be anachronistic.)

As “Hour” unfolds, an eighth policeman has been slain on London’s streets under the dark of night, leaving Scotland Yard baffled. The charming Revel (played by noted rabble-rouser/Rat Packer Peter Lawford) is a gentleman thief with a knack for getting his sticky fingers on jewelry, but his livelihood is threatened by the authorities’ incorrect belief that the robber is the killer, and vice versa.

Therefore, it’s in Revel’s best interest — not to mention that of his playboy lifestyle — to attempt to do what the police have failed and find the homicidal maniac. He even suggests that at the next death, Scotland Yard should issue a bulletin saying the constable survived, in order to draw out the culprit.

The whole affair is over and done with in 80 minutes, so it’s tough to get exhausted, even if the pace often slows with too much talking and not enough criminal activity. But my biggest beef with the picture — or rather the designer of the original poster art — is that its big surprise is given away on the cover. This “Hour” of mild power comes available as an MOD DVD from Warner Archive. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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