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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 0. Odeon.

Calculated RiskOdeon have been quietly releasing a bunch of obscure vintage British films over the last couple of years - I had no idea just how many until I looked at the catalogue included here - charting the unknown waters of the B-movies, exploitation films and 'quota quickies' that used to crop up on mid-afternoon or late night TV. Many of these films are fascinating, impressively honest little movies - and the latest release, Calculated Risk, is a fine example.

Quietly dour, the film opens with old lag Kip (John Rutland), fresh from prison, laying flowers on his wife's grave in a snow-packed cemetery. Kip is a career criminal who just isn't very good at what he does, but plans one last job to see him into retirement - a bank raid through the basement of the bombed out building next door (the film was made in 1963, when WW2 destroyed houses were still all too common in parts of the country). His plan is intriguing enough for brother-in-law Steve (William Lucas) to front the money for the heist - as long as he takes control. Quickly putting together a crew, plans are made, risks weighed up and the job begun. But of course, even the best plans can go wrong, and the discovery of an unexploded bomb is just the start of their troubles.

Director Norman Harrison directs Edwin Richfield's sparse script with the tightness it needs, and the cast are a uniformly solid group, bringing their characters to life without resorting to flashy techniques. This isn't a glamorous crime film - these are ordinary guys, looking to make a quick and dishonest buck, and the film's post-war / pre-Swinging London feel almost gives it the atmosphere of a kitchen sink drama at times (don't let that put you off - the 69 minute running time has little room for anything but the primary plot, and rightly so).

As with so many low budget British films of the time, Calculated Risk is impressively economical, offering it's thrills in a no-nonsense manner, and is all the better for it. Modern filmmakers could learn a trick or two from terse little films like this. Like many of the films in this DVD series, this is well worth taking a calculated risk on purchasing.

Odeon's print is cleaner than a film as old and obscure as this should be - a good remastering job here. The only extras, unsurprisingly, are newly created trailers for other 'Best of British' films on the label.





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