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Ginley (Albert Finney) is a nightclub bingo caller eager for a career change. On his thirty-first birthday, he advertises himself as a private eye in the newspaper. He dons a trench coat, and begins engaging others in rapid-fire dialogue as if he were Humphrey Bogart, or some Dashiell Hammett creation. Soon after, Ginley is phoned by a fat man, who gives him a package containing a gun, a photograph, and a large sum of money. Eventually Ginley is investigating a case involving smuggling of weapons as well as drugs. Ginley also finds himself at odds with his unsupportive brother, who offers Ginley payment to break off his investigations. Eventually Ginley learns of his brother-in-law's involvement in the crimes at hand. Ginley faces a series of daunting tasks: solving the crimes, bringing justice to the smugglers (and a murderer), as well as maintaining his safety and sanity in the process. Written by
A curiosity but, aside from a solid final third, it is too inconsistent and uncertain to really get into
Eddie Ginley is a Liverpudlian who works as an announcer and caller at the local bingo hall. However he has tired of his current profession and decides to take out a small ad marketing himself as a private eye. Almost immediately Ginley finds work coming his way in the form of a packaging containing £1000, a gun and a photograph of a young woman. Unsure quite what is being asked of him, Ginley tries to get answers but just finds himself getting in over his head very quickly.
An interesting concept is not really that well delivered in this erratic and inconsistent film. The story lifts the genre traditions of the Sam Spade style detective novel and places it down in early 1970's Liverpool. This culture clash offered an interesting film but sadly it is the lack of certainty about what it is trying to achieve that ultimately lets it down. At times it is quite engaging in regards the mystery but then at other times it seems to be not taking it seriously and happy to have it as a canvas for making genre gags. It gets stronger in the final third but up till then it doesn't engage in the way as true detective story of the genre should do. The chance to see Liverpool as it was back in the late sixties/early seventies is welcome but I didn't think that the two cultures were worked into one another that well it seemed the film was content to leave the juxtaposition as a gag and nothing more.
The cast work surprisingly well with this and they try and play it for what it is the best they can. Finney leads the cast well but is weak when the material is weak; his changing accent bugged me to some degree but playing the case hard saw him becoming more what the genre requires. His support is mostly good because they fit in with the sectioned tone well really it is Finney that suffers more than anyone else because he has to try and fit in with each scene.
Overall this is more a curio than a good film in its own right. Not till the final third does it decide how it wants to play it for sure and as a result it is mostly uneven and hard to get into. I did enjoy the pace and grit of the final third but I did wonder why it was left so late in the game to pull it all together and get moving.
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