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The Laughing Academy
A Life of Noisy Desperation
The Doctor’s Shadowy Past 
27th-Aug-2009 11:19 am
Dr Who - One PWNS
The more I see of William Hartnell in the Brit Noir series, the more I want to track down pictures of him as a child or an adolescent, because I just cannot imagine him as a kid. I keep picturing Those Eyes peering out from beneath a white muslin bonnet and That Voice demanding, “Where’s my bottle, hmm? You’d better fetch it, if you know what’s good for you...”

The closest I’ve gotten so far was the film I saw on Tuesday, Appointment with Crime (1946), in which Hartnell (in his late thirties) gets star billing as a spiv out for revenge against the gang who abandoned him after he had both wrists broken during a smash-and-grab gone wrong. It’s a fairly straightforward little B-movie, though there are some expressionist flourishes during an anesthesia-induced flashback, and the gang leader’s bespectacled right-hand man (Alan Wheatley, another future Who alumnus) is evah so fey. The main appeal is watching a younger, darker-haired First Doctor with a hat and a gat bark lines like, “Get him on the blower!” and pitch woo to a dancehall blonde, though by the time he gets around to kissing her she knows he’s a no-good, lying, murderous rat.

Hartnell is in at least two more movies in the series: Brighton Rock (1947) (script by Grahame Greene, starring Richard Attenborough) and Odd Man Out (1947) (director Carol The Third Man Reed, starring James Mason).
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