Four German officers attempt an escape from a prisoner of war camp while awaiting trial for war crimes. The only one to get away was Dr. Bruckner (Mervyn Johns). During the war he was referred to as the Beast of Ravensbruck. Bruckner was a bacteriologist and earned that nickname for performing biological experiments on concentration camp prisoners. Bruckner had been developing immunizations for diseases. His aim was to perfect a plague and an immunization for it that the Nazis could use as a weapon. The Nazis would be immune and everyone else would die.
Bruckner makes his way to London and the office of a dentist, Dr. Kennedy (Alan Wheatley), who is part of the Nazi underground. He is given money and a change of clothes. Kennedy then sends him on to his next contact. Professor Inman (Karel Stepanek) is a Nazi Psychiatrist and another member of the underground. He tells Bruckner that they want to set him up in London so he can continue his work.
Bruckner is told to take the place of Dr. Richard Forrester (Anthony Eustdel) who is coming in from Australia. Forrester is also a bacteriologist. Since he has no family and no friends in the area, he is perfect for the Nazis’ plan. Bruckner kills Forrester and stuffs him into a trunk. He then takes Forrester’s place at the medical research station at Gillington, near Oxford. Bruckner, as Forrester, is given a home, with a lab, to live in. Also living in the house is Forrester’s assistant from the medical research station, Dr. Paul Rankin (Robert Beatty).
Burying himself in his work Bruckner ignores all social requests. Soon a young woman named Tracy Hart (Nova Pilbeam) arrives from Australia. Having not seen Forrester since she was a child, she doesn’t recognize that Bruckner is not who he claims to be. Tracy is studying to become a bacteriologist and was hired to assist Forrester. Bruckner takes her on as an assistant at home.
Rankin becomes suspicious of Dr. Forrester, but Tracy doesn’t believe that there is anything wrong with her employer. Bruckner continues to work on his cure until it is perfected. Having proved it works on lab animals Bruckner is now ready to test his plague and cure on humans.
“Counterblast” AKA “Devil’s Plot” was released in 1948 and was directed by Paul L. Stein. It is a rather obscure British spy thriller, unless you’re a Millcreek compilation fan.
I think part of Bruckner’s problem, and what made him come under Dr. Rankin’s radar as suspicious, is that he acted like a German. At least the British and American version of what a German acts like. One moment he is cordial and respectful and the next he’s authoritarian and rude. As an inquisitor though, he’s damn good at getting information from people. It’s not my idea of Mervyn John’s usual role, having mostly seen him as Bob Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol” 1951, but he does a good job as a Nazi spy.
The film is a little on the creaky side. It’s hard to find a copy that isn’t fuzzy and dark, but the sound is fine. Despite the condition of the film stock, it ended up being an interesting spy thriller.