Rex Banner

Created by Robert Chapman

“It was murder, the stuff that headlines are made of . . .”
— really?

Two-fisted REX BANNER was a fairly efficient British reporter, who runs some sort of news agency in London with his wife Maxine, but could always be counted on to stick his nose in somebody else’s business, and get bopped on the head for his troubles.

Mind you, he was always getting hit on by some “remarkably available young women,” despite Maxine’s presence, so there’s that.

Obviously an attempt to mimic the American hard-boiled school, Rex appeared in eight novels, all set in London or other parts of England, in the 1950s, and must have been popular, at least in the U.K. — four of the novels were made into films, although they seemed to have had a hard time keeping Banner’s name straight.

He went from Rex Banner to Paul Banner to Jeff Holly in four films, and somewhere along the way, Maxine the wife was dumped for a succession of female companions. Peter Reynolds played Rex in the first film, and Montreal-born Paul Carpenter took over the role in the subsequent three flicks. In fact, in the second film, Maxine makes a small joke about “Paul” asking for coffee, not tea. “Oh, you Canadians!,”  she chides.

It’s possible the books (and the films) were also trying to capture a little of the Nick-and-Nora magic, although as detecting couples go, at least in the films, the Banners leave a lot to be desired. Even in the first film, where Rex and Maxine are actually married, she is mostly background, and he seems more than willing to let her go off for drinks or whatever with some guy that’s been hanging around, while he pokes around. Detecting? She doesn’t do much of it all. Maybe in the books she has a bigger role.

Still, the journalism background for the novels, if not the films, seemed credible, possibly because Chapman himself was a reporter for a London newspaper, although he was born (and died) in the U.S.A.


  • One Jump Ahead (1951) | Buy this book
  • Crime on My Hands (1952)
  • Winter Wears a Shroud (1952)
  • Murder for the Million (1953)
  • Behind the Headlines (1955)
  • The Frozen Stiff (1956; aka “Murder on Ice”) | Buy this book
  • The Downward Path (1959)
  • Wish You Were Dead (1960)


    (1954, Croydon)
    62 minutes
    Black & white
    Based on the novel Winter Wears a Shroud by Robert Chapman
    Screenplay by George Fisher
    Directed by Douglas Pierce
    Starring Peter Reynolds as REX BANNER
    With Honor Blackman as Maxine Banner
    Also starring Gordon Jackson, Valerie Vernon, Michael Balfour, Peter Neil, Peter Swanwick, Laurie Main, Katie Johnson, Mark Daly
    (1955, Kenilworth)
    Based on the novel by Robert Chapman
    Screenplay by Doreen Montgomery
    Directed by Charles Saunders
    Starring Paul Carpenter as PAUL BANNER (“Rex” in the novel)
    With Diane Hart as Maxine
    Also starring Jill Adams, Freddie Mills, David Hannaford, Peter Sinclair, Arnold Bell, Roddy Hughes, Edward French, June Ashley
    (1956, Kenilworth)
    70 minutes
    Black & white
    Based on the novel by Robert Chapman
    Screenplay by Allan MacKinnon
    Directed by Charles Saunders
    Starring Paul Carpenter as PAUL BANNER (“Rex” in the novel)
    Also starring Magda Miller, Arthur Rigby, Trevor Reid, Alfie Bas, Leonard Williams, Gaylord Cavallaro, Adrienne Corri
    (1957, Fortress)
    51 minutes
    Black & white
    Based on the novel Murder for the Million by Robert Chapman
    Screenplay by Doreen Montgomery
    Directed by Charles Saunders
    Starring as Paul Carpenter as JEFF HOLLY (“Rex Banner” in the novel)
    Also starring Melissa Stribling, John Laurie, Peter Swanwick, Patrick Holt, Maurice Durant, Georgia Brown, Yvonne Romain, Trevor Reid, Anne Blake, Edna Kove
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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