DVD region 2. Odeon.
1948 British crime film sets out to be a tense thriller, and almost
pulls it off – but in the end, it doesn’t quite hit
Jack Warner stars as George Martin, a convicted criminal who goers
on the run, handcuffed to the ridiculously young looking George
Cole, playing Willie Stannard. The story cuts between their desperate
attempts to escape – both from the police and from each
other – with the exploits of just-married newspaper reporter
Ronnie Waring (David Tomlinson) as he attempt to get his story
while always seeming to be one step behind.
The film certainly has a gritty edge to it, but there’s
not enough going on to sustain the surprisingly lengthy running
time – Tomlinson’s investigation goes nowhere, and
scenes involving Martin’s wife and girlfriend, though important,
are overly stretched out.
What’s more, Warner is hard to accept as the hardened villain
– too many years of him playing avuncular copper Dixon
of Dock Green don’t help, but even without that
memory, he doesn’t seem to be the tough guy that the story
needs. The fact that he is on the run, killing and risking his
life, to avoid a five year sentence doesn’t ring true –
if he was a convicted killer, fair enough, but five years? For
a man who we are told is a hardened jail bird? It hardly seems
worth all the fuss.
It’s not a terrible film, by any means – the convict
characters are rather more rounded than you might expect for the
time, and the conflicted emotions they arouse in their nearest
and dearest are well explored. But some judicious editing would
improve this no end. As it is, this is a must for students of
British crime cinema, but not essential for anyone else..
IT NOW (UK)