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Involuntarily-retired Colonel Hyde recruits seven other dissatisfied ex-servicemen for a special project. Each of the men has a skeleton in the cupboard, is short of money, and is a service-trained expert in his field. The job is a bank robbery, and military discipline and planning are imposed by Hyde and second-in-command Race on the team, although civilian irritations do start getting in the way. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You've "done your bit" for Britain and now you're not needed any more. What next?
Well ... if your name is "Half Colonel" Hyde, you thank Her Majesty very much, and take your future into your own hands!
Hyde, played to gruff perfection by Jack Hawkins, is supremely proud of his meticulous planning skills, gained and sharpened in a 25 year military career. Ignominiously pensioned off, he puts these strengths to good use in plotting a daring million-pound robbery.
As an ex-military man, Hyde is aware that his "operation" cannot succeed without putting together a squad of the very best experts. Displaying the kind of guile and ruthlessness that earned him his lofty rank, he also knows that it's rather handy if one's selected team has nothing much to lose.
The film opens by introducing us to Hyde's hand-picked candidates in turn - each receiving a mysterious invitation to lunch, stapled to one half of a crisp new fiver none of them can afford to ignore. A rum bunch they are, too - we witness a splendidly gloomy panorama of post- war London, scattered with promiscuous wives, doomed businesses, loveless marriages and good times going rapidly bad.
Enough, surely, to make a fellow wish he were back in the army - especially should he happen to be a bogus clergyman, an "odd man out" or simply a chap who always makes the same mistake twice ...
Was late-1950s Britain, in fact, a land fit for heroes? Does pride come before a fall? Or might crime, perhaps just this once, pay?
Join these esteemed Gentlemen for a wonderfully enjoyable caper movie, and find out for yourself! The story entertains (and possibly even informs) throughout - particularly to be relished is the interplay between Hawkins and the always-watchable Nigel "Old Darling" Patrick.
Notwithstanding a youthful Oliver Reed's jarringly unfunny cameo, this is easily one of my top ten movies.
May we be spared for ever the Hollywood or - even worse - the BritPack re-make!!
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