When their ship docks the crew disembark as usual to pick up their lives in postwar London. For one of them his petty smuggling turns more serious when he finds himself caught up with a robbery in the City.
The Assassination Bureau has existed for decades (perhaps centuries) until Diana Rigg begins to investigate it. The high moral standing of the Bureau (only killing those who deserve it) is ... See full summary »
Murderous, sadistic London gang leader Vic Dakin, a mother-obsessed homosexual modeled on real-life gangster Ronnie Kray, is worried about potential stool pigeons that may bring down his ... See full summary »
Alec Graham is sentenced to death for the murder of his girlfriend Jennie, with whom he spent a weekend at the English country home of the parents of his friend Brian Stanford. Alec's ... See full summary »
Tyrannical but ailing tycoon Charles Richmond becomes very fond of his attractive Italian nurse, Maria. The nurse, in turn, falls in love with Charles' ne'er-do-well nephew Anthony, who plots ways to gain control of his uncle's fortune.
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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