Great performance from Nigel Patrick highlights entertaining 'Spiv' movie.
Another great performance by Nigel Patrick is the highlight of this Post-war British 'Spiv' movie (British crime films with roots in the Hollywood gangster cycle of the 30s, but with far less glamorisation of the criminal protagonists - see also DANCING WITH CRIME, NO WAY BACK and NOOSE, with the latter similarly boasting a superior Nigel Patrick 'Spiv' performance). In this one he plays Simon Rawley, the son of a blind self-made country squire who, believed dead and due to be publicly honoured in a grand memorial service by his doting father, fetches up one night at the family home and is revealed to be a cowardly deserter now plying his trade as a criminal. Rawley demands money, initially to go away but subsequently, upon discovering that his wife has found love in the arms of the doctor son of the neighboring Lord of the manor, seizes the opportunity for blackmail. With his stepmother and wife attempting to keep his return secret from his unknowing father, and with the local police searching the countryside for him (he has earlier assaulted a motorist and stolen the man's car), the scene is set for a tense and unlikely family reunion. Directed by the prolific Lance Comfort, this is a tightly knit, sprightly told crime story, whose limited cast and chamber-piece dynamic tightens and heightens the mounting drama. Well-shot and staged, and featuring occasional moments of intentional humour (especially when Rawley's elaborate and fraudulent explanation for his desertion and absence is juxtaposed with images of his real activities and criminal subterfuge), the film also manages to document some interesting historical class distinctions between the moneyed nouveau-riche Rawley senior and his neighbouring Lordship as it zips its way to a satisfying (if somewhat implausible) climax. Entertaining stuff, and well worth seeking out.
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