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A mad mystery novelist decides to murder his long-suffering secretary in this macabre British B Picture from distinguished director John Guillermin.

Drama 1950 68 mins Not rated

Director: John Guillermin


Brother crime writers Cliff and Jim Brandon (Dermot Walsh and John Bentley) both long for svelte secretary Joan (Rona Anderson). But while Jim is the gentlemanly sort, Cliff is a neurotic psychopath. Researching a new novel, Cliff commits a murder – and when Joan rejects him, he decides to kill her too. Prolific adventure-specialist John Guillermin – later to shoot 1974’s The Towering Inferno – made his directorial feature debut with this fast-paced British B Picture.

Torment received some unexpectedly macabre publicity shortly after its release. A brief scene shows mad-mystery writer Cliff making preparations to hang Joan, the unresponsive object of his obscene affections. According to press reports at the time, after witnessing this shocking stuff onscreen, Somerset man Stanley Williams promptly went home and hanged himself – after decking himself out in a woman’s ‘old-fashioned nightdress’. Stanley’s father decided that Torment was entirely to blame for the tragedy, and he asked the coroner to write to the BBFC to demand that the film be banned.