Stronger characterisation than usual for film of its type
What distinguishes this crime film from many of its contemporaries is not so much the plot, though the dialogue is above average, but the degree of authenticity its characters have and the location shooting in Cambridge and the West End of London.
Laurence Harvey's cheap aggressive spiv, complete with trilby and a phony accent, modelling himself on an American gangster, or at least the Hollywood version of one, had his real life counterparts, as court cases of the period show. One clever scene is set in a seedy amusement arcade as Harvey's womanising Freddie tries to pick up a low class tart (Dora Bryan) much to the disapproval of Sydney Tafler's educated, rather aloof, possibly gay character Marcon (alias Bellingham). There's also a vague resemblance at first to the relationship between Terry and Arthur in MINDER; Tafler is excellent throughout. We meet the magnetic Kathleen Byron's Josephine just before the botched smash and grab resulting in murder and soon learn of her anxiety at the prospect of being stifled amid the tranquil, cloistered "backwater" of her university surroundings with her suitor, staid academic Arthur Hill. Byron was one of the few British actresses of the day whose characters were clearly made of flesh and blood, and here the refined Josephine is sufficiently attracted to the working class, pseudo American Freddie, as to be quite ready to jump straight into bed with him, an unusual development for a film of the time. There's some tension and moments of dry humour, particularly involving Josephine's aunt Eleanor (Renee Kelly). But the film's main interest in the later stages lies in the relationship between the three leading characters, as it works out against the university background.
Sadly, the recent DVD release confirms that the film has only survived in a mutilated form, with minutes missing toward the end, leaving the eventual fate of Freddie, Marcon and accomplice Harry Fowler unclear.
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