Snowbound (1948 film)
Snowbound is a 1948 British thriller film directed by David MacDonald and starring Robert Newton, Dennis Price, Stanley Holloway, Herbert Lom, Marcel Dalio and Guy Middleton and introducing Mila Parély. The screenplay concerns a group of people searching for treasure hidden by the Nazis in the Alps following the Second World War. It was based on the novel The Lonely Skier by Hammond Innes. The film's sets were designed by the art director Maurice Carter.
|Directed by||David MacDonald|
|Produced by||Aubrey Baring |
|Written by||Keith Campbell |
|Based on||the novel The Lonely Skier|
by Hammond Innes
|Starring||Robert Newton |
|Music by||Cedric Thorpe Davie|
|Cinematography||Stephen Dade |
|Edited by||James Needs|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors |
RKO Radio Pictures
|Box office||₤120,000 by 1953|
British film director Derek Engles recognises Neil Blair, a former extras in one of his earlier productions. In order to investigate some intelligence which he had picked up in Italy, Engles offers Blair a new job because he trusts him (he used to be Blair's commanding officer). He wants Blair to keep him posted on the activities of everyone who stays at a ski hut, whilst he poses as a scriptwriter. Blair accepts this offer. Engles warns him to look out for a Carla Rometta and sends along a cameraman, Joe Wesson, to accompany him.
At the inn, Aldo, the indifferent innkeeper, tells themthat there are no rooms available, however guest Stefano Valdini helps them to find a room. Englishman Gilbert Mayne also takes a room. Blair soon encounters Rometta, who calls herself the Comtessa Forelli. That night, a Greek named Keramikos also arrives.
When Blair makes his first report, Engles is particularly interested in the fact that the hut is to be auctioned off the next day. The proprietor of the hotel below confides to Blair that the auction is rigged and that there will only be one bid, his, but instead there is a heated bidding war involving Valdini (on the Comtessa's behalf) and a lawyer for an unknown party. The latter wins the auction by making an excessive bid.
Keramikos tells Blair that he is not truly there to write a script. He also claims that Mayne was a deserter from the British Army who ended up working for him in Greece, though he declines to divulge any more. Blair begins falling in love with the comtessa, who admits she is Carla. Very late at night, by chance, Blair spots Keramikos speaking German with another man. However, when Blair confronts Keramikos, the Greek tells him to mind his own business.
The next day, Mayne invites Blair to go skiing. Refusing to answer any of Blair's questions on this trip, Mayne leaves him behind. When Blair crashes he is knocked unconscious. Mayne later telephones Wesson to inform him that Blair is missing. Carla overhears and telephones Mancini, who organises a search party. Blair is found unconscious, but is brought to safety and recovers quickly.
Engles shows up, just before a snowstorm that leaves all the parties stranded in the hut for the night. At dinner, Engles identifies Keramikos as Von Kellerman. Kellerman reveals he was a Gestapo special agent in charge of Venice, and that Engles was a colonel in British Intelligence. When Italy switched sides and joined the Allies, Kellerman was ordered to transport the gold reserves of the Bank of Italy to Germany. He assigned the task to Captain Heinrich Stelben, unaware Stelben was enamoured with Carla Rometta. In turn, Stelben did not know that Carla had transferred her affections to Mayne. At Carla's urging, Stelben left the gold at the hut and, after shooting his own men, reported he had been ambushed. The badly wounded Corporal Holtz survived and was later "persuaded" to relate his story to Kellerman. Kellerman wants the gold to finance the rebuilding of a fascist Germany.
When Carla attacks Mayne after learning that he had agreed to kill her and Valdini, he knocks her unconscious. Valdini throws a knife at him. Mayne shoots him dead, but is knifed in the back by Aldo on Kellerman's order. Kellerman produces a pistol, has Carla locked up, and orders the Englishmen to dig for the gold. Mayne comes to and tries to free Carla, but knocks over a lamp that sets the building on fire, then succumbs. When no gold is found, Kellerman does not believe that Engles does not know where it is and shoots him. In the ensuing fight, Wesson drags the unconscious Blair out of the basement. The burning hut collapses on the others. Carla reveals that she knows where the gold is, but cradling Blair, declares she will never reveal its location, as it has caused too many deaths.
- Robert Newton as Derek Engles
- Dennis Price as Neil Blair
- Stanley Holloway as Joe Wesson
- Herbert Lom as Von Kellerman, alias Keramikos
- Marcel Dalio as Stefano Valdini
- Mila Parély as Carla Rometta
- Willy Fueter as Aldo, innkeeper
- Guy Middleton as Gilbert Mayne
- Richard Molinas as Mancini, rental agent
- Catherina Ferraz as Emilia, innkeeper's wife
- Gilbert Davis as Commissionaire
- Massino Coen as Auctioneer
- Rositer Shepherd as Lawyer
- Lionel Grose as Corporal Holtz
- William Price as Stelben
- Zena Marshall as Italian Girl
Hammond Innes' novel The Lonely Skier was published in 1947. Film rights were bought by Sydney Box at Gainsborough Studios. The film involved location shooting in the French Alps. A unit was sent to shoot exteriors in the Alps while directed David MacDonald finished Good Time Girl for Gainsborough.
The March 1948 Variety review was not especially favourable, complaining that the "Main failing of the yarn is that situations do not thrill sufficiently", and "For the romantic interest Mila Parely was imported from Paris, an experiment difficult to justify by results."
The Los Angeles Times wrote that "the British flair for making gripping spine chillers explodes excitingly" in the film.
- Andrew Spicer, Sydney Box Manchester Uni Press 2006 p 210
- Snowbound at the British Film Institute's Film and TV Database
- Nepean, E. (1947, Nov 01). Round the British studios. Picture show, 52, 7. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1879613867
- "and From". The Mail. 35 (1, 806). Adelaide. 4 January 1947. p. 9 (Sunday Magazine). Retrieved 6 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "[?] RAC Teams again with Katharine HEPBURN". The Mercury. CLXVI (23, 909). Tasmania. 26 July 1947. p. 3 (The Mercury Magazine). Retrieved 6 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Film Reviews: Snowbound". Variety. 31 March 1948.
- "G, K.". ENGLISH COMEDY, DRAMA PAIRED ON ESQUIRE BILL. Los Angeles Times. 7 February 1949. ProQuest 165910325.