Highly Dangerous

Highly Dangerous
Highly Dangerous FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byRoy Ward Baker (as Roy Baker)
Written byEric Ambler
Produced byAntony Darnborough
Earl St. John
CinematographyReginald H. Wyer
Edited byAlfred Roome
Music byRichard Addinsell
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 6 December 1950 (1950-12-06) (London)
  • 12 October 1951 (1951-10-12) (US)
Running time
88-90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Highly Dangerous is a 1950 British spy film starring Margaret Lockwood. The screenplay was written by Eric Ambler.

It was released in the US by Lippert Pictures as Time Running Out.


Frances Gray is as a British entomologist trying to stop a biological attack with the help of an American journalist.[1]



Margaret Lockwood had not made a film in 18 months following Madness of the Heart, and had been focusing on stage work.[2] Earl St John wanted a comeback vehicle and commissioned Eric Ambler to write a film specifically as a vehicle for Lockwood. Ambler had recently specialised in melodramas, but Highly Dangerous was a comedy thriller in the vein of Lockwood's earlier hits, The Lady Vanishes and Night Train to Munich.[3] It was directed by Roy Ward Baker, who had served with Ambler during the war.[4]

"One thing about Eric is that he presents you with a script that is beautifully finished in every detail", said Baker.[5] He added " Eric had invented a language for the people the other side of the curtain which wasn’t Russian or anything else and the poor actors had to learn this stuff. He was playing a game with that."[6]

"I think Margaret Lockwood wanted to play a modern woman", recalled Baker. "It was actually Eric Ambler's first or second book, although the book had a different title and its main character was a man; Eric changed it to a woman to make it more interesting."[7]

The studio wanted a Hollywood leading man to play opposite Lockwood. Wendell Corey was originally sought[8] before the role was given to Dane Clark, who had recently left Warner Bros. "He was just delivering a stock leading man movie performance which was virtually nothing," said Baker. "He wasn’t very efficient. I think he fell in love with London. He also fell deeply in love with Jean Simmonds which was unrequited. He was a pillock I’m afraid. Marius Goring played the Belgravian heavy he was very heavy I'm afraid. I couldn't control him at all. It was a satisfactory run of the mill picture."[6]

There was location work done in Trieste. "I found it very difficult to make anything of that location," said Baker. "I was a bit disappointed and to tell the truth I didn't do it very well. The reason I say that is that many years later... I realised I’d been trying to piece it together in a logical way, sticking to the topography of Trieste I’d done myself an injury because the audience doesn't give a damn."[6]

Filming started at Pinewood Studios in June 1950.[9]


Baker later said that "Highly Dangerous wasn't a very successful picture.... It was a good idea although I don't think I did it very well."[10]

Filmink said "it should have been Lady Vanishes-like but the film never gets its tone right. It starts off straight then goes a bit wacky and is just not fun – it lacks comic relief, and Lockwood seems old and tired."[11]


  1. ^ "BRITISH THRILLER". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 19, no. 4. Australia. 27 June 1951. p. 29. Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "Maggie comes back in Highly Dangerous". The Sunday Times. Perth. 7 May 1950. p. 10 Supplement: Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 31 October 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Ambler writes a thriller-comedy". Times Pictorial. Dublin, Ireland. 15 April 1950. p. 13.
  4. ^ STEPHEN WATTS (20 May 1951). "SUCCESS IN THE SHADOW OF FAILURE: Roy Baker Makes Mark as Director at Scene of Faded British Hopes On His Own Quick Return Army Training". New York Times. p. X5.
  5. ^ McFarlane p 49
  6. ^ a b c Fowler, Roy (Oct–Nov 1989). "Interview with Roy Ward Baker" (PDF). British Entertainment History Project.
  7. ^ McFarlane p 50
  8. ^ "IN THE FILM SPOTLIGHT". The Mirror. Vol. 27, no. 1457. Western Australia. 22 April 1950. p. 16. Retrieved 10 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "JUST VERY, VERY, DEAR FRIENDS". The Mirror. Vol. 27, no. 1463. Western Australia. 3 June 1950. p. 15. Retrieved 10 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ McFarlane p 49-50
  11. ^ Vagg, Stephen (January 29, 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.

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