The importance of the director, in cinema, used to be a topic of discussion for me. It hasn’t been lately, because it’s hard to find good examples of well-scripted, well-acted, but terribly directed motion pictures. Thank goodness for The Trollenberg Terror and Quentin Lawrence. Lawrence might be the most boring bad director I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t have a single moment of inventiveness, good or bad, in Trollenberg and it’s astounding the film actually achieves moments of suspense. It only achieves one–in the last fifteen minutes–but still… it’s unexpected.
Trollenberg‘s script–from Hammer hack Jimmy Sangster–isn’t terrible. Sangster was adapting a television serial, so there’s a lot of content and potential (the serial is, unfortunately, unavailable). The film’s setting–a mysteriously terrorized mountain resort–is fantastic, so Sangster (and even Lawrence to a point) don’t have to do much work. The cast is mostly solid, with the principles selling their characters.
I’m not sure if Forrest Tucker is a good actor or gives a good performance, but it’s an authoritative one and that aspect makes it work. Laurence Payne is a likable reporter. Jennifer Jayne and Janet Munro are solid damsels in distress, though the pairing off of them with Tucker and Payne, respectively, is absurd.
Even Warren Mitchell is all right and he’s got an absurd accent to go with his unbelievably knowledgeable scientist (he hypnotizes as well as studies geology and cosmic radiation).
The Trollenberg Terror deserved a far better director (and budget).
Directed by Quentin Lawrence; screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, based on the television serial written by Peter Key; director of photography, Monty Berman; edited by Henry Richardson; music by Stanley Black; produced by Robert S. Baker and Berman; released by Eros Films.
Starring Forrest Tucker (Alan Brooks), Laurence Payne (Philip Truscott), Jennifer Jayne (Sarah Pilgrim), Janet Munro (Anne Pilgrim), Warren Mitchell (Prof. Crevett), Frederick Schiller (Mayor Klein), Andrew Faulds (Brett), Stuart Saunders (Dewhurst), Colin Douglas (Hans) and Derek Sydney (Wilde).