The title, in British police parlance of the day, defines a petty crook whose criminal activities are minor and legal-borderline, but the title character in this film appears to stretch the...
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The title, in British police parlance of the day, defines a petty crook whose criminal activities are minor and legal-borderline, but the title character in this film appears to stretch the definition. Benny steals a purse from Melissa Stribling and discovers a compromising letter in it from her boyfriend Colin Tapley, who is a wealthy surgeon and married. Benny starts a blackmail campaign that leads to murder. Susan Shaw is along as Benny's girlfriend, Molly. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This is a good example of how to do a lot with relatively little, in this story of a London spiv who makes a bid for the big time and ends up getting in over his head. There are inevitable echoes with "Night and the City", but this low-budget Merton Park Studios production is on a much smaller scale and rarely aims beyond its reach.
There is some fine acting by Sydney Tafler as the oleaginous Benny, and by Susan Shaw and Melissa Stribling as the central female characters, Molly and Caroline, who finally come face to face by coincidence in a meeting that gives Caroline her chance. Ronald Howard is billed rather more prominently than I felt his part actually justified; nominally the chief detective, he has in fact very little to do.
There are limited interior sets, but some clever and effective shots (was that cat specifically staged, or did it just wander up to actor Colin Tapley at an appropriate moment?) within the resources available. Tension is genuine during many of the scenes, and although the protagonist behaves badly more or less from start to finish we end up feeling for him as he is trapped and apparently betrayed.
As with tonight's double-bill companion "To the Public Danger", however, the film suffers in its final moments from what appears to be a desire to insert an explicit public-information moral into the dialogue in case the audience had failed to get it from the story alone: unfortunately it's not made terribly clear just why Benny buys the gun in the first place. (Moral support, presumably?)
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