Town on Trial

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Town on Trial
"Town on Trial".jpg
UK Quad poster
Directed by John Guillermin
Produced by Maxwell Setton
Written by Ken Hughes
Robert Westerby
Starring John Mills
Charles Coburn
Barbara Bates
Derek Farr
Alec McCowen
Music by Tristram Cary
Cinematography Basil Emmott
Edited by Max Benedict
Release dates 1957
Running time 95 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Town on Trial is a 1957 British mystery film directed by John Guillermin and starring John Mills, Charles Coburn, Barbara Bates and Derek Farr. A whole town comes under suspicion when a series of grisly murders are carried out—particularly members of the local tennis club.[1]


While playing tennis at a posh club, Molly Stevens' look and wardrobe attract considerable interest. She is later found dead, strangled with a stocking. Scotland Yard assigns Superintendent Mike Halloran to the case.

A book of love poems, including an inscription from a Peter Crowley, is found in the victim's flat. There is also a photo of Peter and Molly with a young woman from the prominent Dixon family. Mr. Dixon resents the police trying to question his daughter Fiona.

Halloran finds evidence that Molly was having an affair with married Mark Roper, the club's secretary. Roper denies it, also claiming he was with nurse Elizabeth Fenner at the time of the murder.

The coroner reveals Molly was two months pregnant. Dr. John Fenner, the physician who certified the death, is asked by Halloran why he neglected to report that fact. Fenner claims he was trying to avoid a scandal for Roper and the club.

Elizabeth is the doctor's niece. Her alibi for Roper is proven to be a lie. She is protecting her uncle, who left his practice in Toronto after a misdiagnosis led to a patient's death.

Roper, always bragging about his wartime heroics, is revealed by Halloran to be covering up for a dishonorable discharge and to be heavily in debt. The club demands Roper's resignation. He turns up at a party, gets drunk and starts a fight. Leaving the party and going for a walk, Fiona is ambushed and strangled to death. Her body is placed in the trunk of Dr. Fenner's car.

Halloran finds out that Dr. Fenner has been treating Peter Crowley for schizophrenia. Peter flees to a church, climbing to the top and threatening to jump. Halloran, with the help of a hook and ladder, ascends to the steeple to prevent the suicide, risking his own life in the process.



A close look at the Ordnance Survey map of "Oakley Park" in the opening credits, shows it to be of Banbury—see Lower Middleton Cheney, Marston St.Lawrence et al. to the east.


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