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PETER VAUGHAN LEADS 'SMOKESCREEN' WITH YVONNE ROMAIN

Peter Vaughan & Yvonne Romain in SMOKESCREEN Year: 1964 Rates: ****

The biggest shame about Jim O'Connolly's quirky low-budget British post-noir SMOKESCREEN is that it was a film instead of a television series since Peter Vaughan's perpetually cautious and stingy insurance adjuster Roper had so many more adventures in him....

His particular case involves what the audience and a young couple witness from the very beginning: a burning car driving off a cliff, and we never see a driver, which is what Roper searches for throughout the hour-long programmer, going from one person to the next in the usual "gumshoey" investigative fashion...

Peter Vaughan, Yvonne Romain and Gerald Flood in SMOKESCREEN

What makes SMOKESCREEN so fun and involving are not only the oddballs he comes across, but how Vaughan's own eccentric character reacts to each, especially an equally chintzy doctor and bribing railroad worker... And then the supposed dead man's wife played by CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF ingenue Yvonne Romain, who Roper's handsome sidekick John Carson is understandably smitten with... You'll be glad they keep having to return to her...

Vaughan would later play big, strong, intimidating monsters of men, like in Sam Peckinpah's STRAW DOGS as the leader of a gang of low-rent Brits bullying Dustin Hoffman, the titular world-dominating villain in HAMMERHEAD and even an actual ogre in TIME BANDITS, which is why it's fun seeing him jauntily making his way through East Essex with an umbrella and the countenance of an awkward, uptight accountant who never threw a punch...

Peter Vaughan as Roper in SMOKESCREEN

Which is an important Noir element since anything can derive from the woodwork, and a great cinematic investigator is usually the most vulnerable to unseen/unknown elements: only there aren't any deadly thugs lurking through darkened alleys... And yet the eclectic day-lit obstacles can be equally complicated hence intriguing, along with a sense of the traditional Whodunit... or more a Howdunnit being the mechanics are more important than the person...

And Vaughan's character Roper, much like Peter Falk as COLUMBO the following decade, has a way of coaxing information that only a cerebral manipulator can muster... and can you imagine if COLUMBO had only one movie instead of an entire series? Well in this case, we have to.

Peter Vaughan and John Carson in SMOKESCREEN
Peter Vaughan and Glynn Edwards in SMOKESCREEN
David Gregory, Glynn Edwards (The Hi-Jackers), Jill Curzon & Peter Vaughan Smokescreen
Peter Vaughan as Roper in Smokescreen
Jill Curzon as June in SMOKESCREEN
Peter Vaughan and John Carson in SMOKESCREEN
Peter Vaughan as Roper in SMOKESCREEN
Yvonne Romain as Janet Dexter in SMOKESCREEN
Peter Vaughan as Roper in SMOKESCREEN
Yvonne Romain as Janet Dexter in SMOKESCREEN
Yvonne Romain as Janet Dexter in SMOKESCREEN
Yvonne Romain as Janet Dexter in SMOKESCREEN with Peter Vaughan
Peter Vaughan and Penny Morrell in SMOKESCREEN
Peter Vaughan and Penny Morrell in SMOKESCREEN
Peter Vaughan and Penny Morrell in SMOKESCREEN
Yvonne Romain and Peter Vaughan in SMOKESCREEN
Yvonne Romain as Janet Dexter in SMOKESCREEN
Maja Hafernik as Maid in SMOKESCREEN
Maja Hafernik and Peter Vaughan in SMOKESCREEN
Jim O'Connelly's British Post Noir SMOKESCREEN
Jim O'Connelly's British Post Noir SMOKESCREEN
Jim O'Connelly's British Post Noir SMOKESCREEN
Jim O'Connelly's British Post Noir SMOKESCREEN
Hi-Jackers baddie Derek Francis with Peter Vaughan in Smokescreen

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