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Classic example of late 50s/early 60s British gritty reality cinema
I've now seen this film a few times when it gets shown late at night on ABC TV here in Australia and it is still compelling viewing. It is a classic example of the gritty working class social reality/suspense genre in a post Angry Young Men gloomy London setting with a superb cast all giving stellar performances, particularly Peter Sellers as the petty vicious crook (one of his best roles), Elizabeth Sellars as the long suffering wife, Carol White, Mervyn Johns and Adam Faith. The casting of Richard Todd in the lead role of the down-trodden but defiant cosmetics salesman who wants to show everyone he can succeed is superb, inspired and brilliant, particularly given that he was normally cast as heroic and successful types, such as officers.
It is impossible not to identify with the personal struggle against the injustice of the very difficult situation in which Todd's character has found himself and that was not of his own making. Although the film has the typical feel of the late 50s/early 60s era in British urban society (which I love, by the way!), I found his work situation, which is at the heart of the story, and the way he tried to deal with it achingly convincing and clearly reminiscent of more modern eras, particularly with the constant threat of up and coming younger, brighter and sharper sales staff being used by the management as an unsubtle threat to his position if he does not improve his sales figures. I am sure anyone who has ever been paid on a sales commissions basis in a competitive product or service field would be able to identify easily with that situation.
His persistent determination to deal with the unsavoury types he thinks are responsible for the theft of his car in the face of police indifference and try to get back everything that he has lost, while everyone is telling him to just give up, is portrayed very convincingly and the final ending and resolution with the fight scene in the garage is utterly convincing and satisfying. I strongly recommend this film and I have always found it difficult to understand why Richard Todd never became the huge star I believe he deserved to be.
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