Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1940)
The Arsenal Team as featured in the film

Here's a rather curious little film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is a murder mystery comedy, filmed at Highbury Stadium, featuring some of the 1930's biggest English football stars. The football action includes a mixture of close-ups of actors taking on Arsenal players and crowd scenes and action filmed at Highbury during the team's last home match before the outbreak of war in 1939. The opposition was Brentford who kindly agreed to wear the strip of the fictional opposition team rather than their regular red and white stripes.
Based on a novel by Leonard Reginald Gribble, it's the story of 'The Trojans', a fictitious amateur football club taking part in an exhibition match against the mighty Arsenal. When the amateur team's star striker John Doyce (played by Anthony Bushell who later appeared in such films as A Night to Remember and The Battle of the River Plate) dies on the pitch, Inspector Slade of Scotland Yard (played by Leslie Banks) is called in to investigate.
Anthony Bushell

In the course of the film suspicion falls on a number of people, including his lover Gwen Lee (played by Greta Gynt)...
Greta Gynt
 ... her boyfriend Phillip (played by Brian Worth) ...
Brian Worth
... Gwen's Swedish cousin Inga Larson (nineteen year old Liane Linden) ...
Liane Larson
... the Trojan's team manager Mr Kindilett (Wyndham Goldie) ...
Wyndham Goldie
.... and Doyce's team mates Raille (Esmond Knight) and Setchley (Richard Norris):
Esmond Knight

Richard Norris
The crowd scene's are interesting, as is the action. For those of us used to the less-physical modern game of football, it's interesting to witness a forward shoulder barging the goalkeeper - a move that was accepted by referees as fair play:
Shoulder barge
We are also treated to scenes of an Arsenal team talk:
This scene is interesting to those viewers who can remember the Arsenal teams of the 1990s, as their manager tells them about the opposition:
"They don't play your game,
they play an attacking game."
Later, when the score is announced over the tannoy, their manager George Allison (who also acted as the film's technical advisor) says:
"1 nil: That's just how we like it."
 Boring, boring Arsenal!
Other points of interest - We see the players training with a game that appears to be a cross between football and volleyball:

Also appearing as himself in the film is Edward Victor H. Emmett who was the voice of Gaumont British News who commentates on the match:

E.V.H. Emmett
Trivia: Considering the popularity of football it's a surprise that there aren't more football films. One of the most interesting examples is the 1953 film The Great Game. The later film marked the second cinematic appearance of Brentford FC, who had appeared in The Arsenal Stadium Mystery and whose stadium, Griffin Park, was used in The Great Game.

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