80,000 Suspects – 1963 | 113 mins | Drama | B&W
Sadly dated romantic melodrama set against the backdrop of a smallpox epidemic which seems more than a little contrived in places. Written, produced and directed by Val Guest, and using the same semi-documentary style of his previous film, Jigsaw (1962), this predictable pot-boiler features Richard Johnson as the diligent doctor in control and Claire Bloom as his outwardly serene and devoted wife.
Commencing on New Year’s Eve in the city of Bath, Dr. Steven Monks (Richard Johnson) diagnoses a mystery patient as being infected with smallpox and sets in motion a city wide quarantine to contain the outbreak. His commitment to the task is affected by the deterioration of his marriage to ex-nurse Julie (Claire Bloom) following his clandestine affair with a family friend. Monk receives an unexpected blow when the disease strikes closer to home than anticipated and Julie is diagnosed as having contracted the virus. The medical team gradually contain the outbreak until only one unidentified case remains. The search narrows the identity of final carrier down to Ruth Preston (Yolande Donlan), the woman with whom Monks had been having an affair and the wife of his close colleague Clifford (Michael Goodliffe). She’s eventually traced to a deserted house where she’s sheltering, lonely and desperately ill.