The Slasher (1953) Poster

(1953)

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8/10
Well worth a look.
angryangus2 May 2010
After reading some of the extremely negative reviews I feel I have to add my tuppence worth. I watched this film recently and I can't believe some of the reviewers watched the same movie. Bad acting? I couldn't see any. All the actors were stage-trained and while I could see some of that reflected in several of the performances it didn't detract from, but rather added to, the underlying documentary approach to a subject that was much in the public and political mind at that time (and still is today).

James Kenney, who I've seen in several movies, gives an outstanding performance of this young undisciplined hoodlum whose hysterical vileness and strutting arrogance propped up with a false bravado that finally cracks like a mirror at the end of the film....well, crime couldn't be shown to pay, could it? And yes, the police of that time were quite willing to let parents or guardians punish their young 'uns if they thought it would do any good. Parents would insist to the policeman, "Leave him to me!" if he brought shame on the house...I know! Alternatively the policemen themselves would give you a clip on the back of the head with their hand (painful) or flick you with a rolled up cape on the bum (very painful). You wouldn't go running to your Dad crying about it for he'd give you another clip saying you must have deserved it.

Social history tells us of how Britain, with four million men in uniform during the war years saw a generation of youth largely grow up without the guidance of fathers or older brothers. Juvenile delinquency figures during and after the war went through the roof and with many de-mobbed soldiers bringing looted pistols and revolvers home with them there was a steady supply of weapons filtering down to the criminally-inclined classes, and resulting in a massive increase in crimes of robbery, assault and murder by those who were 'tooled-up' and who were quite willing to kill their victims rather than let them live to identify their attacker and possibly end up making the acquaintance of Mr Pierrepoint and his neck-adjusting service (which he performed...on a career-best 405 occasions!).

For the time, and of the time, Lewis Gilbert's film stands up well in my eyes compared to the rose-tinted comedic films depicting similar disenfranchised youth such as the funny 'Hue and Cry'Â…which I also enjoyed enormously.

Taking a film out of its time-period to deliver judgement can't be right.

There were many films made back then (and even now) that are shoddily made with poor acting, dire scripts and non-existent production values that deserve all the brickbats they get, but 'Cosh Boy' isn't one of them....in my humble opinion.
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7/10
Yes, but...
mikepetty25 September 2003
Just seen this on TV. Watched the whole thing (not just the last 15 minutes), and agree with most of what's been said - the dodgy accents, the usual brace of Hermiones, Sid James doing his avuncular desk sergeant bit, etc etc. And as the stepfather Robert Ayres gives the best performance as a piece of wood I've seen since the log in Twin Peaks. Don't think I've ever seen a film before where the fuzz make themselves scarce for ten minutes so stepfather can give his stepson a bloody good thrashing! But...making allowances for the conventions of the time, you can tell it was made by someone who knew what he was doing, and several things kept me watching: the location shots of blitzed London; Joan Collins, who was rather affecting given the limitations of her role; and James Kenney as Roy the hoodlum was really good - overwrought, sure, but convincing nevertheless. I was reminded of Gary Oldman at his most psychotic.
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7/10
Coshing the Cosh Boy
bkoganbing16 April 2012
Although the play Cosh Boy never made it to Broadway, probably too British in its subject matter, the original actor who played the lead on the London stage got to recreate his role for the screen. In the tradition of Richard Attenborough in Brighton Rock, James Kenney is mesmerizing and unforgettable as the dirty little punk who with his gang robs little old ladies of their monies.

If anything Kenney is far more loathsome than Attenborough, not even a hint of surface charm. In fact the hardest part of the film to take seriously is having young Joan Collins surrender herself and her virginity to this creep. Still his love 'em and leave 'em attitude is just one more reason to hate this kid. I've seen very few leading villains so lacking in any redeeming qualities. Possibly Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one.

For those of us Yanks for who the film was retitled The Slasher for release by Lippert Pictures here, a Cosh is a kind of truncheon used to whack someone into unconsciousness or beat them severely. That's what he and his gang use. He's the bane of the existence of his poor mother Betty Ann Davies who agonizes over what she did wrong in raising him. She has a new man in her life, American Robert Ayres playing a Canadian, who thinks the kid just needed a good attitude adjustment that was never given him by a father who is not in the picture. In the end Kenney has to account for all his many sins.

Besides a very young Joan Collins viewers should take note of the two Hermiones in the film, Hermione Baddely as the mother of Collins who wants to Cosh the Cosh Boy after she finds out what Kenney has done and Hermione Gingold playing a not disguised at all prostitute who is a friend of the Davies/Kenney family. It's a poor section of London these folks live in with evidence all around of the recent war. Kenney's gang hides out in the bombed out buildings still not repaired by 1953.

Cosh Boy is still quite a riveting piece of film making and Kenney is unforgettably evil.
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7/10
See below
allankelb6 February 2013
this film screened in the early am last night on abc1 in Australia. I note that some reviewers thought the acting was poor however I found that the actor who played the lead role was brilliant, I grew up on the wrong side of town so I am familiar with what these creatures are like, these types are universal regardless of time and place.That actor really nailed the archetype snivelling, gutless psychopath, I am surprised that this actor did not goonto bigger and better roles. I wonder if Peter Sellers saw this film as one of the thugs has a comical high pitched voice identical to one of Sellers many voices! And the young Joan Collins, what a beauty!
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7/10
Hits you over the head and you'll like it
FilmFlaneur26 September 2010
Don't miss this, now available as THE SLASHER as part of a Kit Parker Films DVD double bill under the moniker British Film Noir (along with TWILIGHT WOMEN). Strictly speaking I would class neither of these two productions as 'film noir' - more social problem and crime films. THE SLASHER is actually the American renaming of good old COSH BOY, a title which has occasionally surfaced on UK's C4. It's the main reason why I, and I suspect others, will want this disc - a minor cult item featuring a memorable central turn for James Kenney - who also appears, to less effect in another recent release (from the UK this time) GELIGNITE GANG. Kenney plays Roy, the anti-social, selfish, cunning and manipulative thug, about whose short career as a petty criminal the film is about. Highlight of the film is the corporal punishment meted out to Roy by his new stepfather in the final scenes - something strikingly and splendidly un-PC: much more more intense and yes, satisfying in effect than any amount of more establishment-accommodating endings familiar from other films of this ilk. I'm no supporter of the belt, but by God you will be crying out for Roy, who has betrayed his girlfriend (a very young Joan Collins) his mother, his grandmother and almost everyone else, to get the taste of it by time of the end! THE SLASHER may have its weaknesses, including an obvious black-and-white view of behaviour, but with such a powerful ending, together with Kenney's memorable performance it is a must-see. Those who criticise some of the acting (viz: one of Roy's stooges, a particularly whining individual) miss the point - this is British exploitation at its best. The DVD quality is excellent btw except for one or soundtrack drop outs with the present release.
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1/10
Hysterical and terrible!
Andy-1402 October 1998
'Cosh Boy' was made at a time when society was preoccupied with youth. Many men died in the war leaving widows on their own to cope with family life. The fear of crime in the early post-war period was blown out of proportion. 'Cosh Boy' is a reflection of this moral panic and many newspapers carried stories about 'cosh boys' going out mugging old ladies.

Lewis Gilbert's film follows the rise and fall of Roy Walsh a young thug from Battersea. The acting is dire. Ian Whitaker who plays Roy's educationally backward sidekick Alfie collins is staggeringly bad. The film follows the struggles of Roy's widowed mother Elsie who is unable to control her son supposedly because of the absence of a man in the house. The grandmother also lives with Elsie and knows that Roy is no good, she represents the older wiser generation that believed in discipline and family life with two parents. The film has a soapbox message in advocating law and order. It starts from an irrational premise, i.e. the country risks being over-run by youthful barbarians. It advocates that women should follow their prescribed gender roles as housewives and mothers, leave the hard stuff like discipline to men. The most nauseating line in the film comes from Grandma Walsh 'They don't know what hard work is these days. Eight hours a day, five days a week, makes me laugh'. So the working classes should be grateful for less exploitative working hours and conditions. Reactionary trash but a laugh a minute none the less.
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2/10
An amusing cod thriller.
andy67uk3 April 2001
'Cosh Boy' has dreadful scripts and abysmal acting. The only attractive feature of the film is the pretty 18 year old actress Joan Collins (whatever became of her?). The storyline is condescending and moralistic. It suggests that manly discipline is needed to help in the rebuilding of the post-war family, otherwise working-class youths will turn into vicious, nasty 'cosh boys' or poor hapless single mothers. Crime had actually fallen after the war. Black market crime, and other offences, was rife in wartime Britain

What makes this film funny, apart from the atrocious acting, is that in hindsight we can see how ridiculous some 'moral panics' are. The people that might laugh at the caricatures in this film might still go along with existing panics in Britain today - such as 'mad cow' disease, 'road rage', chlamydia teenage alcoholism etc. The total ridiculousness of this film is clear because it is so dated. However panics still grip the popular imagination today, only that they are filtered through far more sophisticated channels such as so-called public health campaigns and the media.

Returning to the film. The characters are one-dimensional, it is purely an exercise in moral tub-thumping concerned with the reconsolidation of law and order in post-war society. The acting is so bad it is hilarious and I'm sure this is one film that Lewis Gilbert would not want to be reminded of.
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5/10
My Mum was in this (possibly)
hildagrenshaw23 July 2014
Interesting film. It was filmed in Leamore Street in Hammersmith. My Mum lived there. The film crew gave them ice creams and skipping ropes to play in the background of some scenes (though on a quick look through the film, I didn't see much of this). The beginning shows them running down a high street and I suspect this was the main street in Hammersmith.I have just bought it for my Mum's 70th birthday as she had never seen the film due to it being an X and of course, there were no DVD/Video recorders in those days!Feels a bit over acted in places, but an interesting historical document of life in the 1950s. Joan Collins is impressive though.
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4/10
thoughts
marktayloruk6 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Found Roy a thoroughly vile human being but didn't like Bob either. "For his own good"-merely an excuse from someone who'd always hated him,with or without good reason. Was rather hoping that the battered Roy would seize his gun, wound Bob,and do a runner-the cops' explanations to their superiors would have been good for a laugh! Oh-Joan Collins as teenage virgin.VERY old film!
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6/10
British juvenile delinquency drama
Leofwine_draca23 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
COSH BOY is an intriguing mix of social drama and crime thriller, released in Britain in 1953. It deserves credit for tackling the subject matter of juvenile crime and delinquency in a stark and realistic way, avoiding sensation for the most part in its depiction of unpleasant events that spiral out of control and affect the lives of those involved. The film was shot by future Bond director Lewis Gilbert, who exhibits a good control of his medium even at this early stage of his career.

James Kenney gives a thoroughly believable turn as the film's protagonist, one of the most unpleasant in all of 1950s cinema. Through him, the viewer gets into the mind of the thug and sees just what makes him tick. The exasperated family members are all well and good, but it's the youthful figures who stand out: an impossibly young Joan Collins as the naive girlfriend and Johnny Briggs as a callow gang member. Even Sid James and Laurence Naismith show up as coppers. There aren't many laughs here, but the oddly gripping nature of the material will see you through right till the end.
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6/10
Hangin's too good for 'em if you ask me...........................
ianlouisiana31 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It's easy to laugh at this rather smugly here in the 21st century when it's so safe to walk the streets and drunken yobs don't blight our town centres every weekend and our youths are not indiscriminately killing each other,and we can leave our doors open all night and hug a hoodie...yeah,right. Like the infinitely better "The Blue Lamp","Cosh Boy" is an Issue Picture.There the resemblance ends.Whilst the former was a noir masterpiece,one of the most seminal of all 50s British pictures,the latter is a catchpenny bandwagon-jumping appallingly made load of tosh made to cash in a genuine fear of "Teddy Boys","Cosh Boys" and the like that held the post-war public in its sway. Because the fact that the movie is awful should not be a reason to dismiss the fears of the audience who went to see it.My father who'd fought the Italians and Germans in the African desert was a firm believer in corporal and capital punishment,as were many of his generation.No amount of sophistry will deny the fact that now our country is a far more dangerous place than in 1953 when he could happily walk the dog to the newsagents with a better than average chance of getting home unscathed. The movie "Cosh Boy",terrible as it was,brought the issue of violent youth out into the open,much the same as "Cathy come home" did for the disenfranchised 15 years later and the masterly "Scum" raised the profile of the treatment of young offenders. All these movies caught the public's attention and - ultimately - Parliament's. At a time when the Authorities were more prepared to deal robustly with bad behaviour,exemplary sentencing paved the way for the decline of the feral youths of the day.It may have all been appallingly judgemental but it worked. So..."Cosh Boy" is a lousy movie with dreadful acting and all put together for what it would cost nowadays for a haircut at Trumpers...... but it served a purpose.Lewis Gilbert may well have intended to make a piece of sensationalist dross,pure and simple,but he ended up with a movie that changed things for the better for ordinary working-class Brits.Our present bunch of Arts Council subsidised Armchair Socialists would do well to note that.According to his diaries,Kenneth Williams auditioned for a part in this movie.Tragically he didn't get it - he might have lifted it to a whole new level.
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Risible
Bernie-5627 September 2000
Couldn't agree more with the previous review. I caught the last 15 minutes on cable. I have yet to see more wooden acting -- just standing there and saying the lines!

If I had been the Cosh Boy I would have just slugged my stepfather on the jaw and run away. Or, if American, shot him with my handy revolver.
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7/10
A comedy for sure
mcjules20 March 2011
This movie made when Western civilisation was going to be torn down by the outbreak of Juvenile Delinquents, and the pimply youth were building forces in the US as well, so follow Cosh Boy with "When Youth Runs Wild" (1945). The US film is not as funny as the UK one but still has all the traditional delinquent-syndrome markers.

Cosh Boy is a real hoot, especially the strange pitch of their voices or, perhaps this is the what delinquency does to the vocal cords. Making their coshes in trade classes at school was a goody, what or where was the teacher while these illegal instruments were being turned out. Suppose the old prostitutes were lucky that the boys weren't doing metal work at school or they would have been done over with knuckle dusters. Loved the 50/50 split: ten bob for you and fifteen bob for me, and the cosh wielding drongo didn't notice the shortchange.

Loved the fashion. The best was the bloke in the two-toned car coat with tied waist topped off with a Homberg hat. Sooo hip.
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6/10
Joan Collins - the one bright spot in this dreary drama!!
kidboots6 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
After the war Britain went through a J.D. crisis and some fine films tried to give understanding to the problem ("The Blue Lamp" (1950), "Violent Playground" (1957), "Beat Girl" (1959)). While "Cosh Boy" was a bit heavy handed (literally) at laying the blame on absentee fathers - at least it tried to find a solution. It was also the first British film to receive an X certificate.

Two young chaps follow an inebriated granny onto a vacant lot, "cosh" her and take her purse. So begins "Cosh Boy", a rather wooden film that attempts to explain the rise of juvenile delinquency that happened everywhere, after World War 11. The boys, Roy (James Kenny) and Alfie (Ian Whittaker) are caught and sentenced to one year's probation. Roy manages to put on a good performance for the magistrate but he is the brains behind the gang and has no intention of stopping his unlawful activities. His mother announces her intention of marrying Bob Stevens and Roy goes crazy - says if she marries Bob, he will kill him!!!

Roy goes to a local dance and meets Rene (beautiful Joan Collins). She is not impressed with his caveman tactics and continues to see dependable Brian. Roy arranges to have Brian beaten up and when Brian is discharged from hospital Roy and Rene are a couple. Roy may have his mother hoodwinked - but not his gran, who has her own ideas about how he should be bought up. When Roy's mother and Bob come back from a date, Gran is distraught - her life savings (which she kept under her bed) are gone, and she knows who is responsible. Bob waits until Roy comes home and gives him a sample of what life will be like when he marries Roy's mum. Rene is having her own problems - she is having a baby and Roy, being the gentleman that he is, refuses to have anything to do with her. She then tries to kill herself by jumping into the river but, fortunately, is saved, a sadder but wiser girl.

Things start to unravel for Roy - he has got hold of a gun, which he uses with disastrous results in a bungled robbery. Even though he will spend a long time in jail, police turn a blind eye when his step father gives him a well deserved thrashing!! Comparing this film to "The Blue Lamp" is silly. "The Blue Lamp" is a classic British noir, this is just a programmer. I wouldn't describe the acting as amateurish and the film is not as bad as some reviewers make out.

Recommended.
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1/10
Roll up! Roll up! See the Gang that Contains the Oldest Juvenile Delinquent
loza-116 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Roy Walsh is a young delinquent, who makes a pound or two out of coshing old ladies and stealing their handbags. He has a gang with him who cycle to their scenes-of-crime. They include a simpleton; there's a character played by a young Johnny Briggs, and a strange character who looks and talks like a forty-year-old.

Walsh is a nasty character, who displays no remorse. He treats his gangsters badly, especially the simpleton. He has an affair with the simpleton's sister (Joan Collins), whose accent slips like a 4-man bobsleigh. Their short, loveless affair results in her getting pregnant. Walsh is not impressed, tells her to clear off. We are told that Joan Collins has "done herself in". In fact she is lying alive in a hospital bed, although she has lost her baby.

The screenplay has all the features of having been jotted down on the back of a cigarette packet at the last minute. There is no layering in this production. There is no explanation why Walsh is like this.

Walsh's gang upgrade from coshing old ladies to using a revolver to rob the takings at a wrestling match. The gun goes off, wounding a staff member.

The police catch up with Walsh. But first Walsh is caught by his brand new Canadian stepfather. The police stand aside, while Walsh's stepfather does what everyone thought he should have done ages ago. He takes off his belt and starts whacking Walsh.

This is one of several films that looked at post WW2 juvenile crime. "The Blue Lamp" was the best of these, in my opinion. But "Cosh Boy" is one of the worst films I have seen. It is badly scripted, badly acted. It is ridiculous that eight years after one of the biggest incidents of violence and vandalism known to humankind, all this film could offer as a remedy for youth crime is walloping a kid with a belt. How pathetic.

Watch out for Sid James playing a station officer in a short scene.
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6/10
It's ALL the coddling mothers' fault....spare the rod, spoil the Empire I say!
MartinHafer10 August 2016
"Cosh Boy" (also known as "The Slasher") is an incredibly Oedipal picture that takes advantage of post-war worries that the youth were running amok. It begins with Roy Walsh and a friend committing a mugging (a 'cosh') and soon getting caught. They are placed on probation and Roy acts very contrite and decent in court...and almost immediately after, he's planning his next crimes! His idea is to use the Youth Club his probation officer wants him to attend. He and his gang will go there...and use it as a cover for their criminal activities. In the process, Roy discovers a pretty young lady (Joan Collins)...who he treats like dirt.

Through the course of the film, Roy continually ups the ante--with his criminal behaviors getting worse and worse. He clearly is without a redeeming quality...though his co-dependent mother makes excuses for him. The only one who sees right through the punk is his mother's boyfriend...he knows that Roy needs a very firm hand. But here is where it gets rather Freudian...as Roy throws a weird temper tantrum and swears no one will have his mother as she is HIS! What's next? See this weird little film.

James Kenney is quite good as Roy--snarling, nasty and incredibly two- faced..as well as hopelessly in love with his mother..though he and his mum don't seem to realize it. My biggest complaint, however, is that the film tries to say that who Roy is turns out to be because he has a super-permissive mother. In fact, the preachy prologue says exactly that! Oversimplified to say the least! Overall, it's not a great film at all...but it IS entertaining and worth seeing!

By the way, although the film seems very tame by modern standards, it received the brand new X-rating--which was very unusual for the 1950s. Perhaps this was because the film talks about teenage pregnancy and is a tad violent...all of which would lead to a PG or PG-13 rating today.

"Get up you little rat...you're making me sick!!!"--best line in the film.
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5/10
Juvenile version of No Orchids For Miss Blandish
malcolmgsw25 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Difficult to realise that this was amongst the first films released with an X certificate.It was probably to ensure that impressionable teenagers did not have the opportunity to copy the antics of the characters in this film.Joan Collins shines amongst the dross.Having seen her boyfriend is beaten up by a gang.She then goes with the leader of the gang who treats her roughly.He also has a huge Oedipus complex,and almost seems to be doing a rather poor impersonation of James Cagney in White Heat.There are also parts of this film which are reminiscent of Brighton Rock and The Blue Lamp.The gang stages a raid on a wrestling arena which goes wrong.The leader shoots a member of staff.Subsequently they have a discussion about who would go down for the crime which clearly reflects the Derek Bentley case.The climax is so overblown it is quite laughable.
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