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The Cater Street Hangman Movie Review

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Admirers of Inspector Thomas Pitt had to wait nearly 20 years to see him on film, and red-haired Eoin McCarthy fills the detective's shoes as if he'd been born to solve unspeakable crimes. One of the best things about The Cater Street Hangman is that the first credit reads The Inspector Pitt Mysteries, which means that we can expect Callendar Square, Paragon Walk, Resurrection Row, Rutland Place, Blue-gate Fields, Death in Devil's Acre, Cardington Crescent, Silence in Hanover Close, Bethlehem Road, Face of a Stranger, Dangerous Mourning, Defend and Betray, et cetera, in due course. Not since the Sergeant Cribb mysteries of 1980–83 starring Alan Dobie has there been such a meticulously researched character, deeply entrenched in his own time and place. As Pitt explains in The Cater Street Hangman, he spent years trying and failing to save the good name of his father. Rather careless in appearance, he has an intimate appreciation of the working class into which he was born and his crime-solving approach tends to be empirical and visceral rather than cerebral and contemplative. Challenged by suspects, he continues his questioning without the slightest trace of irritation. The Pitt mysteries are further enriched by the deductive skills of Charlotte Ellison (beautifully played by Keeley Hawes), a misfit in her own well-born family. When a series of pious women become the victims of murder, Charlotte takes a special interest in the case and her prickly relationship with Thomas gradually takes on the nature of a true investigative team. The suspicious-looking suspects are well cast, from Peter Egan as Edward, Charlotte's stern papa, and John Castle as her nemesis, Reverend Prebble; to Richard Linton as brother-in-law Dominic Corde and Janet Maze as Martha Prebble. Also in the cast are David Roper as Maddock, Robert Reynolds as Dr. Hope, Jack Turlton as Sgt. Webster, Judy Campbell as Grandmama, and Sheila Ruskin, Sarah Woodward, and Katie Ryder Richardson as Caroline, Sarah, and Emily Ellison. Small touches like a street sprite singing for her supper, corsets that only allow one to breathe if released a notch, and satirical jabs at the Anglican Church all add to the unique flavor of what I hope will be the first entry in a looong series. Although June Wyndham Davies produced on a small budget of two million pounds ($3.5 million?), The Cater Street Hangman looks and feels far more expensive. Based on the 1979 novel by Anne Perry (see review for Heavenly Creatures). Cast Note: If Egan and Castle seem familiar, they play Oscar Wilde and Prince Louis Battenberg in 1978's Lillie. Egan also stars in A Perfect Spy and Castle appears in The Bretts.

1998 100m/C GB Eoin McCarthy, Keeley Hawes, Peter Egan, John Castle, Richard Linton, David Roper, Robert Reynolds, Judy Campbell, Sheila Ruskin, Sarah Woodward, Katie Ryder Richardson, Jack Turlton, Janet Maze; D: Sarah Hellings; W: T.R. Bowen; C: Doug Hallows; M: hristopher Gunning.

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