Nowhere to Go (1958) Poster


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Stone cold classic
John Seal5 January 2003
If this film had been made in 1950s France by directors named Clouzot or Melville, this Ealing production would be a regular on the revival circuit and in film school classrooms. Sadly, it's a completely unheralded film. Directed expertly by Seth Holt, who co-wrote the film with critic Kenneth Tynan, the film features an on-his-way-to-Europe George Nader as an American con man in London, looking to score by stealing a valuable coin collection (the owner is played by American expatriate and silent film star Bessie Love). His companion in crime is the docile but dangerous Bernard Lee, and there are double crosses and dirty dealings aplenty. The star of the film is Paul Beeson's amazing cinematography, always artistic but never too showy. Beeson also did sterling work for Ealing's The Shiralee (1957), and it's hard to understand how his career ended up on Harry Alan Towers scrap-heap. Dizzy Reece's outstanding jazz score (his only film work) fits the story like a glove and Maggie Smith makes her film debut as Nader's love interest. This is a great film and a true work of art.
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NOWHERE TO GO (Seth Holt, 1958) ***
MARIO GAUCI3 September 2011
This is atypically gritty fare for Ealing (with the distribution handled by MGM, who excised some 15 minutes so that the film could fit into a double-bill!) – for the record, I have watched a couple of established classics from them in this vein, namely IT ALWAYS RAINS ON Sunday (1947; helmed by Seth Holt's brother-in-law, Robert Hamer!) and THE BLUE LAMP (1950), and among a few I own but have yet to check out is THE SIEGE OF PINCHGUT aka FOUR DESPERATE MEN (1959), which happened to be the famed company's very last effort! Anyway, following years honing his craft as an editor and getting a hang of the business side of movie-making as well in the capacity of associate producer, Holt graduated to the director's chair with NOWHERE TO GO and, as already intimated, deliberately set out to make "the least 'Ealing' Ealing film ever made"!

The result is a powerful noir (with exemplary cinematography by Paul Beeson and, accordingly, editing accompanied by Dizzy Reece's notable jazz score), which style flourished in Britain during those years – numbering the likes of HELL IS A CITY and THE CRIMINAL (both 1960) among its most notable titles, but also ACROSS THE BRIDGE (1957) which, as with the film under review, continued the prevalent practice of the time of recruiting a Hollywood leading man to enhance its commercial appeal overseas. In this case, it is George Nader: having recently watched him in the unenthusing pair of William Castle's would-be spectacle SERPENT OF THE NILE – THE LOVES OF CLEOPATRA (1953) and the low-brow Harry Alan Towers adaptation of Sax Rohmer's THE MILLION EYES OF SUMURU (1967), I frankly had little faith in his ability to carry this through; however, I was glad to be proved wrong as he made for a compelling presence here, managing the various nuances of his complex character with remarkable ease.

The film immediately starts off with a suspense situation as Nader is sprung from jail by his partner (and ex-army buddy) Bernard Lee; then, we follow in flashback how he came to be there, having fleeced an ageing socialite out of the proceeds from the sale of her late husband's priceless collection of old coins – interestingly, he had practically given himself up, hoping to get 5 years but he is given double that amount…and, of course, he is not about to wait that long to reap the rewards of his gambit! However, he soon falls foul of the brutish Lee, who believes Nader had double-crossed him when, in fact, he had been unable to make the collection from the safe deposit-box due to the sudden arrival of the Police Inspector (Geoffrey Keen) who had arrested him! No longer trusting his accomplice, he surprises him at his home and ties him up and gags him; he had already demonstrated his resourcefulness by affecting a club-foot while dealing with the bank because, as he says, "nobody looks a cripple in the face". Unfortunately, Lee dies from having choked on his false teeth which were dislodged during his struggles to break that Nader is now both a fugitive and a murderer!

He tries to get help from a number of underworld contacts but they either 'rat' on him to the Police or else deem him "too hot", which makes him realize he has to go it alone – however, support does come his way in the form of Maggie Smith (vaguely glamorous in her movie debut) as the ditched girlfriend of the owner of the flat in which Nader had been hiding out. Eventually, she shelters him in her family's Welsh cottage (while admitting that her uncle is a Police constable!), but the dogged Keen soon turns up there to interrogate her. The ultimate irony is that Nader panics upon spying the scene from afar through a pair of binoculars – when Smith is somehow released virtually instantly! – and, caught stealing a bike, is shot by its proprietor; though he succeeds in taking off in the man's lorry regardless, he succumbs to his wounds shortly after, leaving the girl to ponder her own future.

The intelligent script was written by Holt himself (actually, the only one he penned of his 6 directorial efforts!) in collaboration with eminent film critic Kenneth Tynan; while the central premise of a doomed man on the run has seen ample service over the years (the prototype being perhaps Carol Reed's ODD MAN OUT {1946}), this is still pretty much an unsung gem within the genre. For what it is worth, other influences can be identified in the early scenes of the conniving protagonist ingratiating himself with the old lady, which recall a similar ruse in WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957), and also the downbeat country-side ending that is redolent of both THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) and HELL DRIVERS (1957)!
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Film Noir British Style
hugh-coverly23 August 2013
I almost skipped this film -- it was a late night offering on TCM -- but I'm so glad I taped it. Like most film noir, the story never seems to go in the direction you expect; its charm lies in this unpredictability. Unlike most film noir, however, Nowhere To Go seems both authentic and believable. In the end, Paul Gregory's self-assured cockiness is undone by surprise, deceit and suspicion.

My initial interest was to watch Maggie Smith's first credited screen role but was completely drawn in by all of the principal characters. Those more accustomed to seeing Smith in her more sophisticated roles from the 1970s onwards, will be pleasantly surprised by her ability to comfortably inhabit the role of a working class girl.

I had never seen George Nader in anything before. Too bad he never achieved the degree of greatness his talent and good looks seemed to promise. Although American born, I think he would have played a convincing James Bond.

Both Bessie Love and Bernard Lee provide strong supporting roles.
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Good film from Ealing Studios
blanche-211 September 2009
George Nader has "Nowhere to Go" in this 1958 British film that also serves as the debut for a virtually unrecognizable Maggie Smith. Nader plays Paul Gregory, a Canadian con man in London who befriends an old woman (silent screen star Bessie Love) and winds up stealing her valuable coin collection. He's blatant about it, knowing that he will serve a term in prison, but he'll get the money on release. He escapes early and finds that getting his hands on the money isn't going to be easy. His partner becomes greedy, there's an accidental death, and Gregory is forced to go on the run.

Kenneth Tynan and director Seth Holt co-wrote this tight script, and Holt keeps the action going and the tension and frustration building as Gregory runs out of options to get a hold of his money. The production is very good-looking as well.

Handsome George Nader was a Hollywood male starlet who wound up playing Ellery Queen on television, as well as starring in two other series and doing guest appearances before concentrating on a career in German film as kind of a James Coburn type. The rumor has persisted for years that Confidential magazine was ready to publish a story on Rock Hudson's homosexuality and traded that story with Universal Studios for one about Nader instead. This rumor emerged again when Hudson died, and left money to Nader in his will. If true, Universal obviously felt Hudson was going to be more important to them. That became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it was perhaps correct. The sad thing is that a story like that mattered.

"Nowhere to Go" is well worth seeing.
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Good British Noir
n_adams129 March 2013
Well I have to say I very much enjoyed this Ealing made British thriller, although I guess it was all a bit predictable as it has been described in the title.

The story revolves around a Canadian conman played by George Nader who reminds me for football fans as a Luis Figo lookalike. Good performances by Maggie Smith, making her film debut I think and Bernard Lee although I never thought of him as a violent type. A small part from the usual wooden Harry H Corbett too.

It kept my attention all the way through which is a fair achievement although as I mentioned previously it is a little predictable and has a few far fetched moments. Nevertheless a great watch.

One observation I made was how much our road system has improved since this film was made. When our main characters leave for Wales at the end Maggie tells George it will be an 8 hour journey, I can do in just over 2 if I put my foot down.
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The Best Laid Plans
howdymax10 September 2009
This is an offering from Michael Balcon at Ealing Studios which was probably not one of the premier British studios. That is one reason I was so surprised at the quality of the story and the production values. It was made during a period where the Brits tended to imitate most things American. The cars, the clothes, the movies, even the music. And then came Carnaby Street and the Beatles.

The story revolves around a American thief in London, played by George Nader, who was probably at the nadir of his career. I checked his credits and about this time he drifted into TV and then on to Germany and the rest of Europe, keeping busy in forgettable movies. His performance in this movie was low key, but really slick. He plays a professional who cons an old lady out of a valuable coin collection and spends the rest of the movie trying to cash it in and split. One by one his shady friends turn on him until he ends up a hunted man ducking for cover at every turn. He is eventually forced to rely on a virtual stranger he meets accidentally. She is played by a young and very interesting Maggie Smith. In fact I didn't even recognize her until the credits rolled.

This story was well written. Tight and tense. The performances were top notch, and the atmosphere had a very noir feel to it, even though a lot of it was shot in daylight. I don't know why George Nader's star waned. You couldn't predict it from his performance here.
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Rather dour British noir
marcslope28 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Admirably elegant and up-to-the-minute 1958, this British crime drama, made at Ealing and released by MGM, suffers from having nobody, really, to root for. George Nader, not looking his best and underplaying to the point of anonymity, is the wily coin thief who cleverly filched a valuable collection from Bessie Love and has broken out of prison to reclaim it. He runs afoul of a nasty accomplice and nastier fate. It's compelling, and it has an arresting leading lady in Maggie Smith (whose part, though she's second-billed, is quite small), and the gray London visuals, fancy camera angles, and so-cool jazz soundtrack combine to create an evocative, downbeat atmosphere. But Nader's character is so repellent you don't want his scheme to succeed, and you're not surprised when it doesn't. It's ahead of its time in its moody, minimalist storytelling, and well worth seeing. But it's a downer.
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A pale English take on Film Noir
Zipper6927 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The other reviews here which seem mainly to originate in the US/Canada and other countries far from England seem to qualify this movie as the "Real Deal" and compare it favorably with more established gritty crime dramas around the same period. I have to beg to differ. The ploy of casting a Hollywood B-Lister in the lead to increase chances of a release in the US gives such hybrids an uneven texture. The very premise of the suave thief, the jail break, the loot in the vault (the McGuffin here), the double cross, the party girl to help him works believably in New York or Boston or Chicago but falls flat in London, especially since they use so many London tourist landmarks to "prove" it's real. Nader does his best and Bernard Lee gave a nice turn as a turncoat friend, but Maggie Smith's part is terribly underwritten (possibly because the misogynistic Kenneth Tynan was co-writer...)and she is little more than a cipher, looking vague and a little lost and speaking in a tiny voice.

I'm British born and grew up in the period this was made - it's a dud.

The only bright spot was Harry H. Corbett (pre-Steptoe) in a too brief cameo as a gang boss
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A Real Find
metaluna5525 June 2017
I watched TCM's 87-minute broadcast of this film from June 2017. What a find! Script-wise, it continually zigs when the viewer expects it to zag. The cinematography is a mix of elements to love -- noir shadings, in-depth focus, unusual but always pertinent camera angles. And I suppose that in the context of films like Scream of Fear and The Nanny, the sober and somewhat cynical auteur side of Seth Holt comes through. George Nader pretty much carries the acting chores and does fine at it. It's a shame he never seemed to break through to the big time. I remember him, of course, in Robot Monster, also in a TV show called Man and the Challenge. Maggie Smith, in her film debut, is anything but a sexy ingenue. Her part is scripted to carry her character in an entirely opposite direction; her large eyes and muted attractiveness do add to the effectiveness of her performance. An uncut, Region 2 DVD adding 13 minutes to the film is available through Amazon UK. I would imagine that the extra footage serves to amplify the evolution of Nader's character -- this, not the suspense (though it is suspenseful), struck me as the focus of this unjustly neglected film. Give it a try!
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decline of a great studio
Robert D. Ruplenas1 September 2013
I watched this because it is a product of the great Ealing Studio of West London, although it was released under the imprimis of both Ealing and MGM. Evidently Ealing and MGM had come to some sort of a working agreement. The movie is a complete departure from the quirkily distinctive films of Ealing's heyday - Man in the White Suit, Lavender Hill Mob, Whiskey Galore, The Ladykillers. All of those films had a distinctive and gentle take on the British national character. Nowhere to Go is a straightforward crime drama, and forgoes that unique Ealing flavor. For what it is it isn't bad. It's good to see Maggie Smith in one of her earliest roles, and Bernard Lee, who will always be remembered as "M" in the Bond movies. Paul Gregory for me is rather wooden. However, there a few too incredulities in the plot, and the ending is a disappointment. The earlier Ealing movies always put a sense of closure on things. This movie just sort of stops, in what seems to be a gesture toward nihilism.
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Prophetic Title
malcolmgsw24 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
For George Nader and Ealing Studios this was virtually the end.Nader's career went downhill pretty fast and this was the penultimate production of Ealing studios.Whilst the film has merit it is sorely hampered by the casting of a bland American lead.Compare this film with the "The Criminal" where you believe that Stanley Baker is on the run from his fellow gang members.Also there are too many coincidences and contrivances.After all would Bernard lee have gone back to his flat knowing that Nader was probably out for revenge and the key.Also when Nader makes his escape from the police he finds a window to open and there hey presto is a car just waiting to be started.Then there is the lorry just standing around waiting to be started at the end.An entertaining thriller but no classic.
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