(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

John (Robert Preston) is trying to regain some sense of normalcy in his life after returning from World War II. He’s happy to be reunited with his wife, Carol (Elizabeth Sellars). But when she is killed after being hit by a car, the build-up of wartime and personal trauma gets the best of John, and he decides to seek revenge.

John knows that two people were involved in his wife’s accident, and he knows that neither of them offered her any assistance. To him, they are the scum of the earth, and he wants nothing more than to make them pay for his wife’s death.

He just might succeeded, given his investigative background as a master code-breaker during the war and his photographic memory. But he’s got to stay ahead of Inspector Davis (Colin Tapley) of Scotland Yard, who is also seeking the man and woman involved in the accident.

From Hammer Films comes Cloudburst, a 1951 crime drama written and directed by Francis Searle from a play by Leo Marks.

Cloudburst is, unfortunately, a film that did not come close to meeting my expectations. Its story is a decent mystery, but the film has a lot of problems.

The largest issue here is the pacing. The story moves along very slowly until the accident scene, which is played so over-dramatically that my jaw actually dropped while watching it.

(Image via DivX Clasico Forum)
(Image via DivX Clasico Forum)

When this scene is finished the film dips back into slowness again. The remainder of its running time is peppered with a few more dramatic scenes, but overall the pace is just too slow and as a result the film is bland. When the drama does pick up it tends to go over-the-top again. There is no happy medium; every scene is either dull or overblown.

The performances aren’t too great, either, and the film isn’t nearly as atmospheric as it should be if it wants to accomplish serious intrigue. The script, on top of the host of other problems that bring down the film, ignores its own potential for a psychological exploration of John, instead opting for a standard trajectory of sleuthing events.

To its credit, the story is wrapped up in a slightly unexpected way, and despite the lack of atmospheric appeal a mood of melancholy is successfully built at the film’s end. But a good final 10 minutes or so doesn’t make up for the lackluster sea of blah that fills up the rest of the film.

Despite its dramatic title and premise, Cloudburst is never able to fully grab hold of the viewer. Skip this one. The score: 1/5