Film ID:
NEFA 21350

COUNTRY COTTAGE

1956

Visitor Tabs

Description

An author rents a remote cottage in Northumberland to work on his new pulp thriller but has a strange experience on his first night, after drinking brandy whilst proofreading a draft of his book into the early hours. This ghost story is a Newcastle & District Amateur Cinematographers Association (ACA) production.

Credit: Newcastle & District ACA Presents

Title: Country Cottage

The film opens with a general view of the village of Blanchland in Northumberland. A shop keeper in the village Post Office hurries out to have a word with a local handyman and taxi driver who’s looking under the bonnet of his car. She shows him a letter, dated 2nd April 1956, and written by Archibald Soames, an author who would like to rent Hillbrow Cottage. He requires “complete and uninterrupted quiet to finish writing my present book – my twentieth incidentally.” He also requests in the letter that a car meet him from the station for the 5:40pm train on Thursday afternoon. The local taxi driver ponders this and then nods his head.

Title: “A tenant at last, eh? OK. I’ll meet him and take him straight to Hillbrow.”

He folds the letter and hands it back to the shop keeper, who heads back into the Post Office.

At a remote railway station, the author is picked up by the taxi driver. He smokes a cigarette in the back seat of the car as they drive along the country roads. In response to the author’s question, the driver points out of the window.

Title: “Yes, Mr Soames, it’s a dangerous road. Five years ago, two people were killed at this very corner.”

The driver continues along the winding road with its hairpin bends. The car finally pulls up at Hillbrow Cottage and lets the writer in to a stone cottage, carrying in his bag.

The two men walk into the dining room, the writer placing his typewriter case on the table.

Title: “Well, nobody’ll bother you out here – especially after dark. What do you write – ghost stories?”

Soames shakes his head and pulls out one of his books, “Alias for Death”, an Evening Standard Book of the Month thriller. The driver points out the garage key on a dresser, takes a tip from the author and leaves.

The author lights a coal fire and reaches to open his typewriter.

Sometime later, he is settled in an armchair and is reading through a manuscript, a bottle of brandy opened on the table. He stretches and checks the time. It’s nearly half past three in the morning.

The writer reaches for his drink, but hears a noise, gets up and peers through the curtains.

Outside in the dark, a woman appears to have broken down. The writer flags down a car on the road. The driver examines her car. They push the car into the garage at Hillbrow Cottage. The writer invites the woman and driver into the cottage and offers them a drink. They raise a toast.

Title: “I’ll have to push on. The Market likes its stuff early you know.”

The woman stops him.

Title: “You’ll give me a lift, won’t you?”

The driver nods. The writer sees them out. The time is now nearly ten past four. He swigs back his drink.

Outside, the garage door is banging in the wind. The writer goes back outside to check the garage. He finds the door unlocked and checks on the car. He opens the back door of the car and the body of a man slumps out. The writer drops his torch in shock. He checks a wallet that has dropped on the floor. The wallet is stuffed with bank notes.

The writer heads back inside and starts to type out a “Statement regarding the events at Hillbrow Cottage” to give to police later in the morning. The scene fades out.

Close-up of a typewritten page “and as the man was obviously dead, I left him in the car (Registration no. JR4845). In view of the darkness and my ignorance of the district, I decided to wait until daylight before informing the authorities.”

He returns to reading his draft manuscript, but takes another drink instead, quite shaken.

He wakes with a hangover having fallen asleep in the armchair. He goes outside to the garage. The key is still dangling in the lock. But he is shocked to discover the car has gone! He finds the torch he dropped on the garage floor. He locks the garage doors, goes in and pockets the statement. He looks at the bottle of brandy and shakes his head.

The taxi driver’s car rolls up outside Hillbrow Cottage. The author is packed and he locks up the cottage. He mentions the broken-down car to the driver, who looks back at him quickly. But the author brushes it off.

The car pulls up at the Post Office in Blanchland and the author gets out. The shopkeeper is peering through the Post Office window. The author notices the registration number of the car parked in front. He is shocked to see it is the same as that of the broken-down car at Hillbrow Cottage. He watches the driver, who is a vicar. The author quizzes him and tells him about his experience.

Title: “A remarkable story – remarkable! Yes, this is the car – and for the explanation – well – perhaps you wish to come with me.”

The two go into the Post Office to see the shop keeper. The vicar introduces them and explains about the writer’s story. The woman fetches a scrapbook out. A news article from the ‘Northshire Weekly’ is stuck inside, dated 7 April 1951. The headline reads: “Triple Tragedy at Lonely Cottage. Man Dead in Garage. Two Killed in Car Crash.” The article reports: “Police now state that the murdered man in garage at Hillbrow Cottage was stabbed in a gang fight over winnings at Northbury Races. Gag panicked and left woman associate to dispose of the body. She hid her broken down car at Hillbrow and got a lift from a local carrier on way to early market. He took the dangerous Hillbrow corner too fast and subsequent crash proved fatal to both.”

The vicar fills in the story’s details.

Title: “After that the locals didn’t fancy the cottage much – said it was haunted – and the car went very cheaply. I’ve had it five years now.”

The author repeats “5 years?” trying to understand that the night’s events were not real. He shows his typewritten statement to the vicar.

Title: “Last night? Oh I think you were perhaps a little – er – over stimulated and no doubt that inspired your writer’s imagination.”

The vicar makes the suggestion that the writer may have been inebriated. The writer pulls out the wallet he found the previous night and looks at it.

Title: “Oh yes. I’ll take the cottage – and I hope I get regular inspiration of the same kind.”

He counts out money from the wallet and pockets it with a pat.

Title: The End