Staring Jean Simmons and Trevor Howard, The Clouded Yellow is an Alfred Hitchcock style thriller from 1950.
An ex-spy, discharged after increasing age causes him to mess up a mission, takes a job cataloguing a butterfly collection and gets sucked into a murder mystery that hinges on the traumatic childhood of one of the main characters.
The essentials of the plot (murder, people on the run, family angst) are commonly seen in many thrillers. But The Clouded Yellow is not only done with panache, it also has the refreshing change of being based in England rather than, like so many thrillers we get to see, America.
It gets close to being in the class of The 39 Steps and it is a refreshing change to have characters flee to Newcastle and then chases across the northern English hills rather than yet another American state and yet another American landscape.
Kenneth Moore is superbly understated in the film, saying few lines and appearing only infrequently on screen and yet somehow projecting a rounded character whose mental attitude the viewer can completely grasp. An excellent example of how quality acting does not need lengthy scenes or complicated special effects, and indeed can shine all the better without either.
If you buy the film on DVD make sure to get the most recent (2010) version as the 2008 DVD release had many scenes missing, including the crucial first scene which sets up Trevor Howard’s character for the whole film.
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