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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.
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' 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.
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!
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.
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.
"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.
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.
'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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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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