Trent's Last Case (1952 film)

Trent's Last Case is a 1952 British detective film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles and John McCallum.[2] It was based on the novel Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley, and had been filmed previously in the UK with Clive Brook in 1920, and in a 1929 US version.[3][4]

Trent's Last Case
British theatrical poster
Directed byHerbert Wilcox
Produced byHerbert Wilcox
Written byE.C. Bentley (novel)
Pamela Bower
StarringMichael Wilding
Margaret Lockwood
Orson Welles
John McCallum
Music byAnthony Collins
CinematographyMutz Greenbaum
Edited byBill Lewthwaite
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
29 October 1952
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£155,903 (UK)[1]


A major international financier is found dead at his Hampshire home. The Record newspaper assigns its leading investigative reporter, Phillip Trent, to the case. In spite of the police cordon, he manages to gain entry to the house by posing as a relative. While there he manages to pick up some of the background to the case from Inspector Murch, the Irish detective leading the investigation. Despite Murch's suggestion that the death is suicide, Trent quickly becomes convinced that it was in fact murder.

At the inquest, the coroner swiftly concludes that the deceased, Sigsbee Manderson, had killed himself. Trent, however, is given permission by his editor to continue to pursue the story. His attention is drawn to Manderson's widow, Margaret.



Margaret Lockwood had just signed a contract with Herbert Wilcox who was better known for making films with his wife, Anna Neagle. Neagle and Lockwood were among the most popular British stars in the country in the 1940s. Lockwood's career had been in a slump and this film was seen as a comeback. It was her first film in two years.[5][6]

Herbert Wilcox wrote in his memoirs that he paid Orson Welles £12,000 for his role but because Welles was in so much debt the actor wound up with only £150. Wilcox and Welles worked together again on Trouble in the Glen (1954).[7]

Critical reception

Leonard Maltin rated the film 2.5 out of 4 stars and noted "superior cast in lukewarm tale of the investigation of businessman's death" while Jay Carr on the TCM website, wrote, "In Trent's Last Case, Welles shares the spotlight with his spectacular putty nose. It's a mighty ice-breaker of a nose, straight-edged as a steel blade, pulverizing all in its path, including whatever pretension to credibility this creaky British murder mystery might have retained."[8][9]


  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p498
  2. "Trent's Last Case (1952) - BFI". BFI.
  3. "Trent's Last Case (1920) - BFI". BFI.
  4. Hal Erickson. "Trent's Last Case (1952) - Herbert Wilcox - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  5. "Comeback, but feud has ended". The Mail. 41 (2, 060). Adelaide. 24 November 1951. p. 8 (SUNDAY MAGAZINE). Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "£20,000 FILM CONTRACT". The News. 58 (8, 969). Adelaide. 8 May 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  7. Herbert Wilcox, Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets p 134-135
  8. "Trent's Last Case (1953) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  9. "Trent's Last Case (1953) - Articles -". Turner Classic Movies.
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