Floods of Fear is directed by Charles Crichton who also co-adapts the screenplay with Vivienne Knight from the novel written by John and Ward Hawkins. It stars Howard Keel, Anne Heywood, Cyril Cusack, Harry H. Corbett, John Crawford and Eddie Byrne. Music is by Alan Rawsthorne and cinematography by Christopher Challis.
Two convicts and one guard are washed away into a flood after the barrier they were building collapses. Ending up at the flooded farmhouse of Dr. Matthews (John Phillips), the men find that the doctor is not at home but his daughter Elizabeth (Heywood) is. Soon enough tensions rise to boiling point, especially since one of the cons, Donovan (Keel), appears to be innocent of the murder he is locked up for, and he has revenge on his mind...
Something of a legend for his directing work for Ealing Studios, Charles Crichton does a fine job blending a suspenseful action thriller with film noir thematics. Though primarily known for comedies (his last film would be A Fish Called Wanda), Crichton had already shown he had a considerable eye for noir with the brilliant and under seen Dirk Bogarde starrer Hunted (1952), only difference here is that the setting is predominantly set on or near water, and it really works for dramatic purpose.
The flood recreation scenes are excellent, be it our protagonists/antagonists flailing about in the water trying to keep alive, or the destruction sequences as houses and various other parts of the watery landscape falling by the wayside, there is high peril crafted out there on those waters. With Challis' (Footsteps in the Fog and latterly Arabesque) beautiful black and white photography making a mark, and Rawsthorne's (Uncle Silas/Pandora and the Flying Dutchman) musical score suitably stirring, the tech credits are high grade for such a Brit production.
It's the character dynamics that really seal the deal to make this a film well worth seeking out. Keel is full on brooding machismo, who seems to have the world on his shoulders, but he always convinces as a man to turn to in a crisis. Cusack is a nutter, no beating around the bush, he would stab you as soon as look at you, and he has very unhealthy designs on Elizabeth. Which brings us to Heywood, who as the sole female of the piece gives a real stoic performance, she's constantly pulled from pillar to post, drowned like a rat, and she has to balance fear, bravado and romance, which she does admirably. While Corbett, who would find fame in the hugely popular TV comedy show Steptoe & Son, provides the requisite officialdom axis in the play.
All good really. 7.5/10
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