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MY BROTHER'S KEEPER
DVD region 2. Odeon.

My Brother's KeeperThis 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 the spot.

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..

DAVID FLINT

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