Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is an average documentary-style police procedural film of the era, shot on location and with occasional omniscient narration, different only because it's British, and slightly lighter in tone than Hollywood films such as THE NAKED CITY. The movie opens with the narrator telling us about the postwar increase in crime among young people, who are more unpredictable and violent than the run-of-the-mill underworld figures of yore. We see the day-to-day operations of the London Metropolitan Police through the eyes of a rookie (Jimmy Hanley) who is paired up with an older heart-of-gold cop (Jack Warner)—he even rents a room from Warner and his wife. Most of their days seem taken up with patrolling and dealing with domestic squabbles, until we begin to follow the misadventures of two young thugs (Dirk Bogarde and Patric Doonan, pictured, with Bogarde on the right) who, emboldened by a successful jewelry store break-in, pull off an armed cinema robbery during which Bogarde shoots Warner. The older cop lingers for a time then dies, and Hanley steels himself to avenge his partner’s death. Meanwhile, Bogarde's tumultuous involvement with the delinquent teenage girl (Peggy Evans) who helped him plan the heist leads to his downfall, climaxed by a lengthy car chase and a tense finale at a dog-racing track.

This was a big box office hit in England and was Bogarde's breakout film—he indeed exhibits the looks, charm (a rather oily charm in this case), and charisma required of a star in what is theoretically a supporting role, though his character becomes the center of the narrative, detracting a bit from the sentimental old cop/young cop storyline. Doonan is fine as the somewhat dimmer partner, and poor Evans has to undergo the abuse of several slappings, even having a piece of luggage thrown at her. Though Warner's character, George Dixon, dies, he was brought back in 1955 for British TV series that ran into the mid-70's. The use of London locations is quite effective. [TCM]

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