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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Really good first half, a major dip and an OK finish

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
22 October 2002

In London 1911 a stand off is sparked between Russian anarchists fund raising to help the fight to liberate Latvia and 100 police officers. A young woman trapped in the middle thinks back to the events that led up to the siege, mainly a failed robbery that results in the death of two of the anarchists.

The plot is a dramatised version of true events and it works quite well for the most part. The opening scene is excellent - violence from an innocent scene and the flashback to the events around the robbery are very tension and well handled. However once the investigation into this group begins it does get a bit too wordy and it feels like it's dragging a bit too much. However the final 20 minutes around the siege itself picks it up, although it isn't as good as the first 30/40 minutes.

The cast are quite good despite the fact that for the first half of the film the Russians are portrayed as thugs and nothing of the cause is explained. This is remedied in the second half in one or two scenes but by then the image of criminals is set. The `baddies' are all played by relatively unknown actors - I suspect no one established wanted to play an unsympathetic role at the time. By contrast a side role is played by British actor Donald Sinden (younger but instantly recognisable) and his part is beefed up for dramatic effect and to get his name up there.

Overall the film almost falls in on itself with the dip in the middle section. The opening 40 minutes are all very good and genuinely tense and exciting. However once the dip is past the final siege is competently delivered and entertaining. How much of this `dramatisation' is taken from a script and how much from fact I don't know, but I don't know too much more than I did before I saw it. Still an enjoyable drama-come-thriller anyway.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

THE SIEGE OF SIDNEY STREET (Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman, 1960) ***

7/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
26 August 2011

I had always been interested in this film, first and foremost because of the fact that my father owns a vintage paperback copy of its novelization, and also because the violent incident (it is uncanny, then, that this viewing – as part of an ongoing tribute to its late scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster – came so soon after the recent and reprehensible London riots!) would inspire the climax of two major titles by influential film-makers, both of whom happen to be among my firm favorites, namely Part One of Fritz Lang's DR. MABUSE, THE GAMBLER (1922) and Alfred Hitchcock's own initial stab at THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934).

Given that this was made by the same producing-directing team (who also shot the film themselves) behind JACK THE RIPPER (1959), another Sangster-scripted effort and with which I actually preceded it, one is not surprised to find the reconstruction at once so meticulous and persuasive. Unfortunately, however, the print I acquired left a lot to be desired: panned-and-scanned from the original Dyaliscope widescreen ratio, the images were being constantly re-framed – forever on the look-out for the most vital action on screen (ironically, at the time I came across it, the film had just been issued on an official DVD, albeit as part of a "British Cinema: Classic 'B' Film Collection" 3-Disc 6-Movie Set)!

Anyway, the film deals with the aftermath of a couple of elaborate robberies that snowball into a veritable battle between the criminals and the forces of the law – interestingly, the opening sequence immediately thrusts one in the thick of the siege, then proceeds to illustrate how it came to be in flashback. These were intended to finance the cause of Russian refugees (looked on with suspicion by the locals and described by a tavern-keeper as a band of "anarchists, atheists…and vegetarians"!) but got botched due to their own imprudent resort to violence (which may well have been an authentic detail of the occurrence and yet, being something of a genre trapping, feels overly-contrived here – similarly, a gang member who is really no more than a boy is compromised by his attachment to a cute stray dog!).

It is thus left to good acting by a serviceable cast to rise above the clichés, particularly with respect to characterization: for instance, the thieves comprise Peter Wyngarde (from THE INNOCENTS {1961} and NIGHT OF THE EAGLE {1962}, and who turned 78 only a couple of days prior to this viewing!) as the intelligent leader of the whole 'rebellious' Russian community, brawny Kieron Moore (co-star of both THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS {1962} and CRACK IN THE WORLD (1965}, and who had coincidentally just appeared in a couple of fine 'caper' movies!) as a brash womanizer (who is not above forcing himself onto his boss' girl!), an elderly member who realizes his time has passed and is glad to stay behind so that his colleagues can make a run for it, another who proves cowardly at his period of trial (i.e. he had been appointed to drive the getaway car but panics at the presence of a 'bobbie') and is subsequently 'executed' by his comrades, etc.

Ditto for heroine Nicole Berger, blinded by her romantic attachment to Wyngarde (interestingly, she is seen to have been mentally unbalanced by the relentless police-grilling in an attempt to extract information from her, and she is also killed at the very end by one of her own via a randomly-fired bullet after the Sidney Street house has been deliberately set ablaze!), and George Pastell (a Hammer regular) as a distinguished sponsor of Wyngarde's revolutionary ideals and who was supposed to arrange their escape to another country (an ingenious ruse utilized by the Police has a local newspaper reporting his arrest, which is bound to shake up the criminals into hopefully betraying themselves by taking a false step!).

Donald Sinden, then, is an effective hero, playing an undercover cop – predictably, he takes more than a passing interest in Berger himself – whose resourcefulness (accentuated by impulsiveness) alerts Scotland Yard as to the hide-out of the outfit…though the offer to induct him into the, by all accounts, exclusive society after one intuitive show of fearlessness beggars belief! By the way, Jimmy Sangster himself makes an uncredited personal cameo appearance here as none other than Winston Churchill, who visits the scene of the blockade under his then-guise of British Home Secretary!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

'...atheists, anarchists and VEGETARIANS!'

5/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
10 January 2014

This film begins with a pitched battle in the streets. Police are battling well-armed anarchists who are holed up in a flat on Sidney Street. As this fighting is occurring, an injured woman reminisces--looking back at life before this siege as well as the events leading up to it.

The woman is a Russian living with a group of other Russian expatriates in London. However, these folks are NOT the nice variety of immigrants--they are anarchists bent on using violence. The violence begins during a daring robbery that goes wrong--and lots of innocent people are killed. Eventually, those responsible are killed by police or their fellow anarchists. However, the police are on the alert that there are some extremely dangerous criminals in their midst. And, although the robbery was bloody and daring, it's only the tip of the iceberg--more senseless killing and violence follows.

This is a film where I eventually got bored. This is because there is so much violence and so many crimes being committed that it all just started blending together after a while. Additionally, you certainly couldn't care about any of these thugs (though I think the film wanted you to care about the blonde). And, ultimately, I lost interest and just wanted it to end. Now this is NOT to say it's a bad film--but it does drag a bit and might have been better had it been shorter. Also, although a minor quibble, it sure would have been nice if the accents of all these 'Russians' had been consistent--but they all seem to speak a wide variety of accents--mostly British, French and one sounding vaguely Hungarian!

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