Committed but seen-it-all police inspector Martineau rightly guesses that after a violent jailbreak a local criminal will head home to Manchester to pick up the spoils from his last job. ... See full summary »
A government team researching cures for plague find their results put on the Official Secrets list. One of their number is so incensed by this that he lets the maimed and jealous companion ... See full summary »
Three good men - a broken boxer, an American veteran trying to win back his mother-dominated wife, and an air force sergeant married to a faithless actress - are corrupted by Miles ... See full summary »
Stanley Baker's character is sent to steal the plans from another company of their racing car designs, to ensure his employers win the competition. However when opening a safe containing ... See full summary »
A vicious loan shark ring has been preying on factory workers. When several workers at a tire factory suffer violence at the hands of the loan sharkers, a union leader and the factory owner... See full summary »
Captain Bellew commands a tugboat harbored off a Spanish village. The father of Josita, a village girl, tempts Bellew into a romantic interest in Josita, despite nearly five decades' ... See full summary »
VIOLENT PLAYGROUND sees tough detective Stanley Baker assigned to a new role after falling foul of his boss; he's directed to head up a juvenile crime prevention scheme. Baldwin fears that his new role will be anything but interesting, but things turn out otherwise as a sub-plot involving an arsonist terrorising the streets of Liverpool becomes mixed up with the main story.
This is a gritty, ahead-of-its-time thriller that mixes social drama with a hard-hitting crime flick. It's surprisingly modern in feel, with tight, character-based drama mixed with action, ranging from car chases to hostage scenarios and of course one or two fiery set-pieces. Basil Dearden's black-and-white photography is crisp and clear and he makes sure to elicit strong performances from his cast members.
Baker is one of those underrated actors who sort of got forgotten about after his death, aside from his role in ZULU, of course, but he's very good given the right material and VIOLENT PLAYGROUND is perfectly suited for his talents. Baker is supported by an engaging cast, including Anne Heywood's love interest and Peter Cushing's priest, and it's worth looking out for future stars Tsai Chin and Freddie Starr in more minor parts. The best actor of the lot is David McCallum in a real star-making turn as the disturbed delinquent whose storyline propels the narrative. Altogether VIOLENT PLAYGROUND is a pacey and engaging piece of film-making which mixes drama and thrills in an effective way.
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