Title sequence
Title sequence

The Edgar Wallace Mysteries is a British second-feature film series mainly produced at Merton Park Studios for Anglo-Amalgamated.[1] There were 47 films in the series, which were released between 1960 and 1965.[2] The series was screened as The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre on television in the United States.

Synopsis

Producers Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy acquired the film rights to all of Edgar Wallace's books and stories in 1960.[1] The original intention was that 30 of the films would be produced by Independent Artists at Beaconsfield Studios while a further 20 would be made by the Film Producers Guild at Merton Park Studios.[3] In the event, Independent Artists' only contribution to the series would be The Malpas Mystery while more than double the intended 20 were made at Merton Park. The resulting adaptations were loose, with very few using Wallace's original titles. Like the concurrent Rialto Film series then being produced in Germany (see German crimis), there was no attempt to set them in the period settings of Wallace's original stories, probably to eliminate the need for elaborate costumes and sets.[4] A 1962 article in Scene magazine quotes £22,000 as the budget for an episode in production at the time of reporting. The majority of the films played as supporting features on the ABC Cinemas circuit, which was Anglo-Amalgamated's usual outlet; but ten of them were allocated to the rival Rank circuit, with screenings in their Odeon and Gaumont cinemas.[5]

Most of the series featured a uniform title sequence, in which a shadowed bust of Edgar Wallace revolves slowly against a backdrop of swirling mist, to the accompaniment of the "Man of Mystery" theme written by Michael Carr.[6] "Man of Mystery" was later recorded by The Shadows and became a number 5 hit record in the UK.[7][8] Later episodes of the series used a speeded up version of the title music after the Shadows' cover version.

The film, Violent Moment (1959), was later released with the Wallace Mysteries' credits replacing the originals, even though it was not part of the series. According to Kim Newman, insufficient episodes were available for American television, for the series was still in production; hence, the distributor Anglo-Amalgamated attached the 'Wallace Mysteries' credits to some of its other mystery and crime films (such as House of Mystery, 1961) and thereby expanded the series.

The series has been shown on television.[9] In Britain, it was shown by ITV in 1968 under the title Tales of Edgar Wallace. Later, Channel 4 and Bravo rescreened the films through to the 1990s, later being re-shown on Talking Pictures TV from 2018. It was shown on American television as The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, with episodes cut to fit hour-long commercial TV slots.

In July 2012, Network DVD began to release the complete series on DVD, uncut and presented in its original aspect ratio.[10]

Films

Urge to Kill (1960) does not appear to have been part of the original series of films produced at Merton Park.[2][11] Other films not shot as part of the series, but subsequently included, are Gerry Anderson's Crossroads to Crime (1960) [12] and Seven Keys (1961).

Critical reception

The Radio Times described the series as "Brit noir at its best, updating some of the author's stories to more contemporary settings and blending classic B-movie elements with a distinctly British feel."[13]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "BFI Screenonline: Flat Two (1962)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  2. ^ a b "Edgar Wallace Mysteries (1960–65)". July 9, 2012.
  3. ^ Cowan, Margaret (25 February 1960). "One Hour Films". Television Today.
  4. ^ Tise Vahimagi. "Edgar Wallace at Merton Park".
  5. ^ "Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, The (Tales of Edgar Wallace)". Nostalgia Central.
  6. ^ Saul, Marc (2010). "Tales of Edgar Wallace". Television Heaven.
  7. ^ "Man Of Mystery". Discogs.
  8. ^ "Man of Mystery/The Stranger". www.officialcharts.com.
  9. ^ "The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre". Radio Times.
  10. ^ "Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Volume 7". Network On Air.
  11. ^ "The Edgar Wallace Mysteries - Volume 6". www.dvdbeaver.com.
  12. ^ "Crossroads to Crime". www.dvdbeaver.com.
  13. ^ "The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Ricochet (1963)". Radio Times.

Further reading