A minor but very smoothly made example of British film noir. Director Michael Winner, then at the start of his career, had a strong cast (Alfred Lynch, Eric Portman, Diana Dors, Finlay Currie, et al) to inhabit this starkly photographed little crime melodrama set in London bedsit-land, all tacky Notting Hill coffee bars and smoky jazz clubs.
Lynch makes a downbeat but sympathetic protagonist, more thoughtful than the usual type of hero. Portman plays the clipped-moustache ex-military man-turned-swindler to perfection. Dors is just right, too, as a blousy divorcée ("Young enough to still want a husband; old enough not get the one I want").
Winner plays up the salacious sex element a bit, but a tight Keith Waterhouse/Willis Hall script touches on Lynch's Catholic guilt, and Currie's existential search for 'truth', just enough to give the story a modicum of depth. There's also an evocative score by Stanley Black, with Acker Bilk on sax.
Until latterly a neglected, even scorned, cinema sub-genre, these usually low-budget British film noirs, often superbly photographed, were violent by the standards of their day, and showed the rain-washed streets of cities like Newcastle (Payroll), Manchester (Hell Is a City) and Brighton (Jigsaw), as well as London, could be pretty mean, too.
Winner's next film, The System with Oliver Reed, was even better.
Crime / Drama
Crime / Drama
This Michael Winner directed film looks into life at Notting Hill, London, then a seedy slum. A down on his luck Joe Beckett (Alfred Lynch) is recruited into crime by Richard Dyce (Eric Portman).
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
August 12, 2021 at 07:08 AM