17 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

(Val Guest, 1960, StudioCanal, PG)

The versatile British journeyman Val Guest (1911-2006) began his prolific movie career in the 1930s writing scripts for comedies starring Will Hay and the Crazy Gang and was still directing in the 1980s. But his memorable films are genre pictures made in the late 50s and early 60s such as this realistic police procedural thriller, an unusual departure for Hammer, shot in black and white on gritty, unfamiliar Manchester locations. The formidable star is the toughest British actor of the day, Stanley Baker, just then embarking on a four-movie partnership with Joseph Losey. He's a no-nonsense cop, anticipating TV's Z-Cars, which started the following year, and he's pursuing a vicious escaped convict. The violence is unusually convincing for a British movie and fresh observations include an illegal gambling school involved in pitch and toss on the edge of the city.

Guest's dialogue is abrasive and unsentimental, »

- Philip French

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