updated: 21/05/2009

mask tricks: Just Ask for Diamond

This children’s comedy was based on a novel entitled The Falcon’s Malteser – the references should be obvious. A master-crimal call the Falcon dies and a dwarf leaves a package for Tim Diamond – possibly the world’s worst private dick and certainly the youngest – and soon Tim is faced with his toughest case yet. His office is ransacked and the package is found to contain simply a box of Maltesers. So who was the dwarf and why was he murdered shortly after his visit? The slovenly, middle-aged Betty Charlady (Patricia Hodge) conveniently – too conveniently – turns up to help tidy the office. And what connection does the elegant Brenda von Falkenberg (Patricia Hodge), the Falcon’s widow, have to the mystery?

At the climax Betty Charlady unmasks herself and reveals that she has been the evil Brenda von Falkenberg in disguise all along. Brenda’s makeup skills are explained by an earlier passing reference to her having been an actress before she married von Falkenberg.

In the unmasking scene there is a clear cut – she bends down after removing her wig – between the prosthetic makeup and the pull-off mask: if you look at the shots before and after the cut you’ll seen the point of discontinuity.This was a good example of the second variant of the mask trick were the actress’s appearance is changed with prosthetic makeup but the disguise is explained in the story as being achieved by a pull-off mask: a more recent examples involving a dramatic change in appearance was Whoopi Goldberg in The Associate.

Penny Steyne was chief makeup artist; Tom Smith was responsible for the special makeup for Patricia Hodge – he had previously been responsible for the mask trick involving Jean Simmons and Jenny Agutter in Dominique is Dead.