Alias John Preston – UK, 1955 – overview and reviews

 
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‘Is this man a devil in the flesh?’

Alias John Preston is a 1955 British psychological thriller feature film about a mysterious wealthy man with a secret past who arrives in a small English town.

Directed by David MacDonald (The Veil ‘Jack the Ripper’ TV series; Devil Girl from Mars) from a screenplay by Paul Tabori, the Danziger Productions movie stars Betta St. John (The City of the Dead), Alexander Knox and Christopher Lee.

Plot:

Wealthy John Preston arrives in small-town Deanbridge. He invests in local businesses and gets involved in community affairs. Eventually, he meets a local belle, Sally, and wins her from her current boyfriend. She agrees to marry him.

Then, he begins to have strange dreams about Sylvia, a beautiful woman from his past, who comes to Deanbridge to blackmail him. In his dream, Preston strangles the scheming woman but is then confronted by a strange Frenchman. He tells his dream to Dr Walton, who feels Preston is suppressing things in his past and should regain his memory before marrying Sally…

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“This is an average psychological mystery worth watching for the good performances.” All Movie

“From a visual standpoint, it’s an extremely bland and unimaginatively presented film, with neither the director or cinematographer doing much to liven it up. If it’s known for anything today, it’s for containing Lee’s first genre film appearance and as such it barely even qualifies as a horror film. ” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“Quite frankly, the movie could have been condensed to a thirty-minute TV episode without losing anything important. Good performances by Christopher Lee and Alexander Knox help, but don’t really save the movie. The best moment is towards the end after Preston relates his last dream and then sees the back of his psychoanalysts head.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“This is a poorly developed psychological drama wherein Knox proves to the schizoid Lee that his nightmares of murder are very real indeed.” TV Guide

Cast and characters:

  • Betta St. John … Sally Sandford
  • Alexander Knox … Dr Peter Walton
  • Christopher Lee … John Preston
  • Sandra Dorne … Sylvia – In Dream / Maria
  • Patrick Holt … Sylvia’s Husband in Dream (as Pat Holt)
  • John Stuart … Dr Underwood
  • Bill Fraser … Joe Newton
  • Gabrielle Gay … Seamstress
  • Peter Grant … Bob Newton
  • Betty Ann Davies … Mrs Sandford
  • John Longden … Richard Sandford
  • Guido Lorraine … Headwaiter
  • Dinah Anne Rogers … Phyllis

Filming locations:

  • Brighton Film Studios, St Nicholas Road, Brighton, East Sussex, England

Technical details:

  • 66 minutes
  • Black and white
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37: 1
  • Audio: Mono

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