Cast & Crew
Peter Van Eyck
Betta St. John
At a villa on the Italian Riviera, Paul Decker meticulously executes a plan to murder his British wife Madge and make it look as if she committed suicide. After sedating Madge with a glass of drugged milk, Paul drapes her body across the couch in the sitting room, seals all the windows with tape and locks the door from the inside. Then, after donning a snorkel and diving mask, he turns on the gas lamps and climbs down a trap door hidden underneath a rug to await her demise. When Madge's lifeless body is found by the maid and gardener the next morning, the police, accompanied by Mr. Wilson, the British Consulate, are summoned to investigate. Madge's teen-aged daughter Candy also arrives, chaperoned by her companion, Jean Edwards, and dog Toto. Upon learning of her mother's untimely death, Candy accuses her stepfather of murder. When the police inspector questions Jean about Paul, who is allegedly in France writing a book, Jean tells him that Candy believes that Paul deliberately killed her father in a boating accident years earlier. After Wilson drives Candy and Jean to a hotel in town, Paul emerges from a tunnel beneath the trap door and sneaks out of the house. Later, the Inspector phones Jean to read her a letter from Paul that has just been delivered to the house. In the letter, Paul writes that he is on his way home, prompting Jean to hurry to the villa to break the news of Madge's death to him. At the villa, Jean comforts the "grieving" Paul. When Jean returns to the hotel, Candy insists that her mother would have left behind a farewell letter if she was contemplating suicide. After Madge's death is ruled a suicide, Candy goes to see the inspector and accuses Paul of killing her mother. When the inspector wonders how Paul could have survived in a room filled with gas, Candy vows to solve the mystery. Upon returning to the hotel, Candy glances out the window in her room and sees a poster of a skin diver. Later, when Jean tells Candy that Paul has suggested that she spend time with her aunt in America, Candy asks about the mechanics of using a passport to travel from country to country. When Jean explains that the passport is stamped each time its owner enters and leaves the country, Candy realizes that if Paul was truly in France at the time of the murder, his passport would bear a French stamp. Candy decides to investigate, and takes Toto to Paul's room to look for the passport. While Candy searches for the passport, Toto pulls a snorkel out of the wardrobe. Just as Candy is leafing through the pages of Paul's passport, Paul suddenly appears and shows her the stamp, proving that he was in France. After Candy leaves, Toto brings the snorkel to Paul, who then poisons the dog. While Toto returns to Candy's room to curl up in a corner and die, Candy tells Jean that her mother was terrified of the gas lamps in the house and begged Paul to install electricity, but he refused. When Candy finds Toto's lifeless body, she accuses Paul of killing him, too. The day before they are to leave Italy, Paul takes Jean and Candy to the beach. Seeing a man snorkeling, Candy asks Jean about how a snorkel works. When Jean explains that the device allows one to breathe underwater for extended periods of time, Candy mentions Paul's snorkel and deduces that he must have used it to stage her mother's suicide. After Candy swims out past the shoreline, Paul feigns concern for her safety and follows her. Just as Paul shoves the girl's head underwater, Jean arrives, and they pull the gasping Candy to shore. Upon reviving, Candy accuses Paul of trying to drown her, prompting Jean to slap the girl and declare that she must be mentally deranged. Back at the hotel, Paul tells Jean that he plans to leave that night to spare Candy any more anguish. Meanwhile, Candy goes to tell the inspector about the snorkel, and upon learning that it is his day off, leaves a message for him to call her. Later, Paul says goodbye to Jean and drives to a hotel on the French border. After checking in, Paul sneaks out with his snorkel and swims back to Italy. A ringing phone interrupts Candy's sleep, and when she answers it, Paul, impersonating an officer from the inspector's office, directs her to go to the villa. Intending to kill Candy in the same manner that he killed her mother, Paul seals the windows of the sitting room. When Candy arrives, Paul tells her that the inspector is on his way and explains that he found a letter from her mother. Offering to read the letter aloud, Paul invites Candy into the sitting room. Paul then recites Madge's "last words." The letter purportedly states that she decided to take her own life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, and admonishes Paul and Candy to take care of each other. When Candy breaks into tears, Paul puts down the pages and offers the grieving girl a glass of drugged milk. After drinking the milk, Candy notices that the pages of the letter are blank and that the windows have been taped shut. Before she can escape, she passes out. Paul then drapes her body over the couch, removes the glass, locks the door, dons his snorkel and turns on the gas. Just then, he hears a car door slam, and throwing the trap door open, bolts into the tunnel. Running up the stairs, Wilson and Jean break down the door and open the windows. When Candy awakens, she declares that Paul tried to kill her and is still hiding in the room. Believing that Candy tried to commit suicide, Wilson placates her by agreeing to search the room on the condition that if Paul is not found, Candy will give up her delusions of murder. In his search, Wilson moves a heavy cabinet away from the wall and leaves it standing on top of the trap door, thus condemning Paul to an airless death. When Wilson's search proves fruitless, Candy agrees to depart with him and Jean. Running back to the room for one last look, Candy hears Paul calling for help, then turns around and leaves him to die. On the drive out of town, they pass the inspector's office and Candy asks Wilson to stop. Relenting, Candy enters the office and tells the inspector to go the villa and look underneath the sitting room floor.
Peter Van Eyck
Betta St. John
Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films - A 3-Disc Set on DVD
The collection begins with a murder thriller, 1958's The Snorkel. Written by Peter Myers and Hammer's in-house scribe Jimmy Sangster, from a story by Italian horror director Antonio Margheriti, The Snorkel is an elaborate "how did he do it?" gimmick film. As with more than a few Hammer mysteries, it takes place at a beach setting, on the border between France and Italy. The killer avoids suspicion because he can prove that he was in the wrong country during the crime. Rocky cliffs render sneaking through the border almost impossible -- by normal means.
Director Guy Green gets the most from the second gimmick, which is explained in the film's first scene. The killer seals himself into a gas-filled room, and breathes by donning an adapted diving snorkel mask. We know from the beginning that it's Paul Decker (Peter Van Eyck), a wife-killer who soon decides that his teenaged stepdaughter Candy (Mandy Miller) must die as well. Bizarre murders in a French setting remind us a bit of Clouzot's Les Diaboliques, while Candy's precocious investigation points forward to a number of sixties' chillers. Discounted as an unreliable witness, Candy must trap her stepfather on her own.
Van Eyck is an undeveloped but menacing villain, and lovely Betta St.John offers good support as Candy's chaperone. Grégoire Aslan is the prerequisite French detective on the case. Mandy Miller's likeable teen heroine is a doubtful mix of immature emotions and steely resolve, as shown in one poorly handled scene when Candy underreacts to the death of her beloved dog. The film's good reputation comes from fans that admire the killer's technically elaborate murder scheme, and ace Hammer cameraman Jack Asher's arresting camerawork. A final surprise lifted from The Third Man could have provided a perfect shock finish, but the movie goes on a bit longer, clearly to tie up some moral loose ends for the censors.
1960's Stop Me Before I Kill! (known in England as The Full Treatment) is produced, co-written and directed by Val Guest, a superior filmmaker who made two of Hammer's best science fiction efforts. Despite locations in the South of France and excellent Megascope cinematography by Gil Taylor, the thriller is let down by an unusually weak script. Racing car driver Alan Colby (Ronald Lewis of Mr. Sardonicus) recovers from a wedding-day car crash but finds himself stricken with an illogical desire to strangle his wife Denise (Diane Cilento). Alan and Denise meet French psychiatrist David Prade (Claude Dauphin) on the Riviera. The charming aristocrat ignores Alan's unprovoked fits of temper and convinces him to submit to analysis. Meanwhile, Denise worries that another of Alan's violent episodes may be her last.
The story and script by Ronald Scott Thorn is a tangle of bad psychiatry and painfully transparent mystery plotting. Top-billed Claude Dauphin's macabre chitchat about deadly spouses is clearly meant to upset Alan; the doctor follows the couple to London "just in case" his services might be needed. Alan's mood swings from sweetness to rage at least once in every scene in a way that's simply laughable. All of the film's important clues -- a Siamese cat, bruises on Denise's neck, a cable car in disrepair -- are clumsily foreshadowed. Alan even has a box of antique surgical instruments that seem awfully handy for a man with violent impulses. All three main actors do fine work under the circumstances and the location photography is splendid, but Stop Me Before I Kill! is definitely not Hammer's finest hour. Sony's encoding is an uncut English version, as it includes a brief glimpse of nudity in a swimming scene.
Never Take Candy from a Stranger (1960) sounds like trashy exploitation but is actually a responsible, thought-provoking movie about child molestation -- perhaps the best ever made on the subject. Director Cyril Frankel (On the Fiddle, The Devil's Own) does excellent work with John Hunter's adaptation of a play by Roger Garis. Sheltered eleven year-olds Lucille Demarest and Jean Carter (Estelle Brody & Janina Faye) tell their parents that the doddering Mr. Olderberry (Felix Aylmer) lured them into his house with candy and asked them to dance naked for him. Jean's parents, newcomers in their Canadian hamlet, find that the law is ineffective against the powerful Olderberry family, the founders of the town. The old man's businessman son controls almost everything. The police are unhelpful and Mr. Demarest (Robert Arden of Mr. Arkadin) is entreated to declare his daughter unfit to testify. Olderberry's lawyer (Niall MacGinnis) traumatizes Jean on the witness stand. He implies that the Carters are perverted "outsiders" and threatens to force the girl to submit to psychiatric and physical tests.
Freddie Francis's superior camerawork lends realism to all aspects of the story. Gwen Watford and Patrick Allen are excellent as Jean's caring parents and little Janina Faye (of Horror of Dracula and Day of the Triffids) is outstanding as the brave and innocent Jean. Felix Aylmer's senile Olderberry Sr. is disturbing, as we're accustomed to seeing the actor play figures of authority. By the end of the trial scene we've nearly forgotten that this is still a Hammer thriller, and when the two girls suddenly find themselves once again in jeopardy, the final reel of the picture is electrifying.
Directed with taste and discretion, Never Take Candy from a Stranger comes to a chilling conclusion. In England the film was released as Never Take Sweets from a Stranger. It would make a thoughtful double bill with William Wyler's The Children's Hour, another problematic story in which children testify about a socially taboo subject.
A compact and intense bank robbery tale, 1961's Cash on Demand provides Hammer stalwarts Peter Cushing and André Morell with a showcase for their acting talents. Adapted from a Television play, David T. Chantler and Lewis Greifer's script makes an asset of the film's single set. Director Quentin Lawrence broke out of TV only occasionally but acquits himself admirably.
The focus is on Cushing's bank manager Fordyce, a veritable Ebenezer Scrooge who alienates his employees and browbeats his top clerks Pearson and Sanderson (Richard Vernon & Norman Bird) over inconsequential errors. That's when Bank Security Chief Hepburn (André Morell) shows up. The layout of the bank's rooms and vault (designed by Hammer's Bernard Robinson) becomes critical when Hepburn reveals to Fordyce that he's a bank robber, and that his confederates have already kidnapped Fordyce's wife and child.
Forced to play along with Hepburn's scheme to loot the vault, the once-imperious Fordyce begins to crack up under the strain. Although fifty years of caper movies make a few of Cash on Demand's explanations and situations seem a little obvious now, the tension stays high. It's especially pleasant to see Peter Cushing given so much screen time to develop his character -- we're reminded of his breakout role in the BBC's landmark teleplay of 1984, where he carried the entire show. After Morell's robber beats him about the face, Cushing must take a few seconds to wipe the tears from his eyes. It's a marvelous little moment of acting. Cash on Demand is a real gem and a very welcome surprise.
1963's Maniac has excellent production values but labors under the weight of yet another gimmicky and obvious script by Jimmy Sangster. Hammer producer Michael Carreras directs this one with Sangster taking over producing responsibilities. In the interesting Camargue region of France, American artist Paul Farrell (Kerwin Mathews) parts company with his rich girlfriend, and finds warm companionship at the café of the two Beynat women. Paul romances the daughter Annette (Liliane Brousse of Paranoiac), only to be seduced by her mother Eve (Nadia Gray of La dolce vita). He then unwisely helps Eve spring her husband from an asylum for the criminally insane. It seems that Annette was raped five years before, and that Monsieur Beynat killed the offender with a blowtorch. One thing leads to another and Paul is soon helping Eve dispose of a corpse. Just when their problems seem resolved, Eve's mad husband reappears, seeking revenge.
Sangster's wild plot reversals are too contrived to achieve the intended impact, while the dialogue repeatedly tips us off to what should be narrative surprises. Anybody familiar with TV whodunits knows that if a character's face isn't shown clearly, it's only a matter of time before some kind of identity switcheroo occurs. The acting is fine, especially that of Kerwin Mathews and Liliane Brousse. Ms. Gray struggles with the almost unplayable Eve, a woman who is both sincere and deceitful, often at the same time. The blowtorch and mutilation killings are mercifully kept off screen, but all credibility disappears when we are told that a bandaged patient has been burned beyond recognition - we can see his untouched eyes and eyebrows, so why doesn't the suave Inspector Etienne (George Pastell) immediately recognize him? For that matter, why does the Inspector discount Paul's obvious participation in a prison break and a murder?
The final entry in the Icons of Suspense package is a categorical misfit. It's Joseph Losey's These are the Damned (1963; aka The Damned), one of the best and most profound science fiction films ever made. An angry expression of Ban-the-Bomb and anti-government secrets sentiment, Losey's film also has more to say about teenaged angst and societal alienation than Kubrick's somewhat similar A Clockwork Orange. The openly pessimistic story looks backward to Hammer's earlier Quatermass movies with their top-secret scientific projects, and forward to the growing "age of violence" that will soon permeate all levels of society. Completed in 1961, the film wasn't seen until 1963 in England and 1965 in the United States, and both releases were drastically edited. Sony's stunning Megascope transfer is the full original version, essentially seen nowhere until a few years ago.
"Public servant" Bernard (Alexander Knox) presides over a secret project hidden in barren cliffs not far from the seaside town of Weymouth. Bernard's artist lover Freya (Viveca Lindfors) works in a stone house nearby, creating weird sculptures that look like people and animals charred by fire. A group of local "Teddy Boy" thugs led by the psychotic King (Oliver Reed) chases the disillusioned American Simon Wells (Macdonald Carey) and King's runaway sister Joan (Shirley Anne Field) to these same cliffs. Pursued by Bernard's security forces, Simon, Joan and King find themselves in a hidden bunker where live a group of strange girls and boys. The result of a nuclear accident, the mutated children are cold-blooded and radioactive: Bernard is raising them in isolation so that they will be prepared to live in the conditions that will prevail after the expected nuclear holocaust. The intruders attempt to free the young prisoners, not realizing that the children are lethal to normal, warm-blooded humans. Bernard can't contain his shocking secret, which fills Freya with both despair and fury: "Is that the extent of your dream, Bernard, to turn nine ice-cold children free in the ashes of the universe?"
These are the Damned is world-class cinema that surely confused audiences expecting a biker saga or a replay of an earlier movie about "deadly" children, Village of the Damned. Just prior to his discovery as a major art-film director, Joseph Losey finds a new form for a new anti-establishment genre. His disturbing story begins with a grating James Bernard rock song expressing the nihilism of the Teddy Boys ("Black Leather Black Leather Smash Smash Smash!"). The teen thugs parallel the equally irresponsible, death-worshipping military unit led by the haughtily paternalistic Bernard, who looks us straight in the eye and states unequivocally that nuclear annihilation is unavoidable. Details are everything, and These are the Damned produces a never-ending string of impressive images: the underground quarters of The Children, watched by closed-circuit TV; the machine-gun toting guards reminiscent of the possessed goons from Quatermass 2; the twin giant helicopters that pursue King's stolen sports car down a lonely beach road.
The movie encounters acting difficulties with beautiful Shirley Anne Field, who nevertheless has a transcendant moment showing a frightened girl the beauty of the world outside her prison-cave. Losey's only real directorial stumble is his gross over-emphasis of Oliver Reed's incestuous desire for his sister. Macdonald Carey is convincing as a middle-aged American out of his element, but makes an uninspiring hero. Redeeming these problems is the stunning Viveca Lindfors, a Swedish actress foolishly discarded by Hollywood. Ms. Lindfors's life-affirming Freya is an indelible original. The maker of sculptures that also worship death, she becomes the muse for a mad bureaucrat who has learned to genuinely stop worrying and love the bomb.
Joseph Losey's career is blessed with the kind of symmetry that film critics love. These are the Damned seems a thematic extension of elements in the director's first movie The Boy with Green Hair, another plea for human tolerance in the face of war. Green Hair's ghostly "war orphans" are very much like Damned's prepubescent guinea pigs, innocent victims lost in an insane world they didn't create. Both groups of children beg for help and understanding. A bona fide subversive classic, These are the Damned increases its grip on the audience as it speeds to one of the most doom-laden finishes in Science Fiction: "Help us! Help us! Please help us!"
Sony's DVD set Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films contains six flawless enhanced B&W transfers with very clear audio; every film is encoded with English subtitles. The films all appear to be uncut English versions with American title substitutions. The Snorkel and These Are the Damned are substantially longer than their original American releases. Sony's keep case packaging stacks all three discs on a single hub, a controversial practice already given a thumbs-down by collectors concerned about scratches.
All of the films come with American trailers. The various sales pitches fairly openly show us why the movies were not wildly popular. Never Take Candy from a Stranger comes off as sordid sensationalism. The Snorkel touts its gimmicky central plot device, and even uses the word "gimmick" in its voiceover script. The schizophrenic trailer for These are the Damned plays the outlandish "Black Leather" song over some of the film's most awkward moments. The 2007 premiere of These are the Damned on the TCM cable channel caused a minor sensation. Sony should have put the film out as a special edition but fans will be pleased to see it finally available in such a handsome presentation.
For more information about Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films, visit Sony Pictures. To order Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films, go to TCM Shopping.
by Glenn Erickson
Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films - A 3-Disc Set on DVD
The murderer is Paul Decker (Peter van Eyck), who hides under the floor of the room as household servants discover the body of his dead wife, Madge. Since the room has been locked and sealed from the inside, it appears to the local Italian police and British Consulate Mr. Wilson (William Franklyn) to be a suicide. Madge's teenaged daughter Candy (Mandy Miller) has been traveling and arrives on the scene with her dog Toto and traveling companion Jean Edwards (Betta St. John). Candy vocally accuses her stepfather of the murder, although he has an alibi at the time of the murder, he was just across the border in France, seeking peace and quiet at a lodging to work on a book he is writing. Candy is adamant; she is also convinced that Paul killed her father in a boating incident several years before. When Paul can produce a passport proving that he had passed into France, Candy is all the more determined to discover how her stepfather could commit the murder.
The Snorkel was released in 1958, while Hammer was in the midst of their reinvention of the horror genre with such films as The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Horror of Dracula (1958), and The Mummy (1959). In this pre-Psycho (1960) period, the modest black-and-white thriller was unfortunately overshadowed by the Technicolor blood and thunder of the horror films. The Snorkel was written by the prolific Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, adapting a story by Anthony Dawson. Following the success of Psycho, Hammer and Sangster returned to the psycho-thriller genre with a string of films that included Scream of Fear (1961), Paranoiac (1963), Maniac (1963), Nightmare (1964), and Hysteria (1965).
Guy Green had been a cinematographer before he turned to directing in 1954; he won an Academy Award for his work shooting David Lean's Great Expectations (1946). Tom Johnson and Deborah Del Vecchio spoke to the director for their book Hammer Films: An Exhaustive Filmography, and Green recalled working on The Snorkel with producer Michael Carreras, whom he called "...very cooperative, as well as a delightful person to be with, and very much responsible for making the film a most pleasant experience. He and I had a great time casting the smaller roles." For the key role of Candy, they cast Mandy Miller; Green called her "...a natural talent and a very professional girl, but a bit too mature for the part, and all our efforts failed to disguise this." Of star Peter van Eyck, Green said that "he had to do a lot of difficult swimming and, one day after spending most of the morning manfully keeping up with a motorboat from which he was being photographed, Peter said, 'You never asked me if I could swim before giving me the part.' It was true. I didn't." Unfortunately, The Snorkel was the only film van Eyck did for Hammer; his cool, detached brand of menace would have been well-suited to other studio projects.
The budget on The Snorkel was about 20 percent above the average Hammer Films shoot, due to the extensive location photography (the Italian villa used in the movie was located in San Remo, near the border with France). It was also produced without a distribution deal in place. According to Johnson and Del Vecchio, an agreement with Warner Bros. had fallen through and James Carreras only later struck a deal with Columbia Pictures for both The Snorkel and its co-feature in a double-bill, The Camp on Blood Island (1958).
The world premiere of The Snorkel took place in an unlikely setting aboard the Queen Elizabeth luxury liner during a crossing of the Atlantic in May of 1958. For its regular run in America, The Snorkel received scant attention as the bottom half of the Columbia double-bill. In The New York Times, critic Richard W. Nason dismissed it, writing, "anyone who wonders how a simple skin-diving snorkel can be used this way will have to see the film... And, once you think about it, it's a very silly way to do away with somebody. Both films are for those who are looking to kill time." The Snorkel could be seen in late show syndication packages on television for a time, but in recent years it has been one of the most elusive of all Hammer titles. While not a classic, this clever and twisted thriller, as well as Peter van Eyck's chilling performance, is overdue for greater exposure.
Producer: Michael Carreras
Director: Guy Green
Screenplay: Anthony Dawson, Peter Myers, Jimmy Sangster
Cinematography: Jack Asher
Art Direction: John Stoll
Music: Francis Chagrin
Film Editing: Bill Lenny, James Needs
Cast: Peter van Eyck (Paul Decker), Betta St. John (Jean Duval), Mandy Miller (Candy Duval), Gregoire Aslan (inspector), William Franklyn (Wilson), Marie Burke (daily woman), Irene Prador (French woman), Henri Vidon (Italian gardener)
by John M. Miller
Guy Green (1913-2005)
He was born on November 5, 1913 in Somerset, England. Long fascinated by cinema, he became a film projectionist while still in his teens, and was a clapper boy by age 20. He bacame a camera operator during World War II in such fine war dramas as One of Our Aircraft Is Missing; In Which We Serve (both 1942) and This Happy Breed (1944). His big break came as a director of photography came for Carol Reed's The Way Ahead (1944). He was eventually chosen by David Lean to photograph Great Expectations (1946), and his moody, corrosive look at Dickensian London deservedly earned an Academy Award. His work as a cinematographer for the next few years were justly celebrated. Film after film: Blanche Fury (1947), Oliver Twist (1948), The Passionate Friends (1949), Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951), The Beggar's Opera (1953), I Am a Camera (1955), all highlighted his gift for cloud-soaked period pieces with sweeping vistas of broad landscapes.
He made his directorial debut in a modest crime drama, River Beat (1954). Some minor titles followed: Portrait of Alison (1955); House of Secrets (1956); the ingenious mystery thriller The Snorkel (1958); the controversial child molestation drama The Mark (1961) starring Stuart Whitman in an Oscar® nominated performance; and his breakthrough picture, The Angry Silence (1960) which starred Richard Attenborough as an outcast who tries to battle labor union corruption. This film earned Green a BAFTA (a British Oscar equivilant) nomination for Best Director and opened the door for him to Hollywood.
Once there, he proceeded to make some pleasant domestic dramas: Light in the Piazza (1962), and Diamond Head (1963), before moving onto what many critics consider his finest work: A Patch of Blue (1965). The film, based on Elizabeth Kata's novel about the interracial love between a blind girl (Elizabeth Hartman) and a black man (Sidney Poitier) despite the protests of her bigoted mother (Shelley Winters), was a critical and commercial hit, and it earned Green a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.
Strangely, Green would never enjoy a critical success equal to A Patch of Blue again. Despite his talent for sensitive material and handling of actors, Green's next two films: a forgettable Hayley Mills vehicle Pretty Polly (1967); and The Magus simply didn't attract the moviegoers or the film reviewers. He redeemed himself slightly with the mature Anthony Quinn-Ingrid Bergman love story Walk in the Spring Rain (1970); and the historical drama Luther (1973), before he stooped to lurid dreck with Jacqueline Susan's Once Is Not Enough (1975).
Eventually, Green would find solace directing a series of television movies, the best of which was an adaptation of the Arthur Hailey (of Airport fame) novel Strong Medicine (1986) starring Sam Neill and Annette O’Toole. Green is survived by his wife Josephine.
by Michael T. Toole
Guy Green (1913-2005)
The murder of "Madge" is shown before the onscreen credits roll. Although the murderer's name is "Jacques Duval" in the Variety review, he is called "Paul Decker" in the film. The Variety and Daily Variety reviews give the film's running time as 73 minutes, but the viewed print was 90 minutes. The Variety review states that the film was based on a novel by Anthony Dawson, but the SAB indicates that the film was based on a motion picture story by Dawson and the onscreen credits read "from The Snorkel by Anthony Dawson." Although Hollywood Reporter production charts note that the film was shot on location in Italy, the Variety review states that it was filmed on the French Riviera. The Snorkel was one of several Hammer productions that were part of a co-financing arrangement with Columbia.