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Pinky is released from prison and has decided to go straight from now on, but accidentally getting himself a job as a maintenance man at a large bank, gives him a lot of undue attention from Ivan the Terrible, the local hoodlum. By using Pinky, Ivan hopes to rob the bank and Pinky starts to liken to the idea of going back to his old ways! Written by
Graeme Huggan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Delightful! It never pretends to be a masterpiece, but it's a mini-gem of late seventies British comedy. Given that the producers wanted to sell it abroad, it stars an American (the late character actor Richard Jordan), but at least he isn't the usual dull Hollywood hunk type. Surrounding him is the cream of British character acting talent, led by a wonderfully waspish and superior David Niven.
Niven's Ivan the Terrible naturally gets the best one liners and all the best reaction shots. He also manages to be surprisingly menacing and intimidatingly dangerous. The moment in the snooker club when he drops the charming facade and threatens Richard Jordan will come as a shock to those viewers who think of Niven as being only a light drawing room comedy star. He is filled with genuine power and ruthlessness as we see all at once how Ivan earned his nickname. All the more surprising given how ill Niven was at the time. Shortly after filming this production he lost his powers of speech to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (known as Lou Gehrig's disease). This is the last picture Niven made where you can hear his own voice, being dubbed thereafter by the comic impressionist Sid Caesar.
Alongside him you can spot numerous familiar faces from seventies cinema and television. Elke Sommer (flashing her breasts in true seventies era politically incorrect bimbo mode), Oliver Tobias, Michael Angelis, Brian Croucher, Davy Kaye etc, etc. Davy Kaye gets one of the biggest laughs as he holds up a security guard caught making a phone call. "Who you ringing?!....Bloody Dial-A-Disc! You gormless git!"
Great shots of London street locations; making the film a period patina time capsule of red phone boxes with chunky round-dial manual handsets, black cabs driven by "Cor blimey, gov!" cockneys, and ladies and gents modelling all manner of deeply dodgy late seventies retro leisure wear and hair styles.
Unlike the classic Ealing comedies of an earlier era, the 'hero' is allowed to get away with his crime and escape to a life in the sun. How times had changed! The morality code by which crooks in films always had to be seen to be punished had long gone by the seventies, with anti-heroes like Pinky Green earning status through their cheeky anti-authoritarianism and determination to 'cock a snook' at a stuffy capitalist establishment of be-suited fat cat businessmen. We are encouraged to cheer as Pinky makes off, unpunished and free as a bird with his ill gotten gains. Compare that to the ending of The Lavender Hill Mob!
Highly entertaining, quaintly dated in its fashions and attitudes, and the stuff of late night cult viewing. Perfect to watch at midnight after the pubs have shut; if you're of a certain age, are feeling a touch nostalgic, and have always wanted to see David Niven in a branch of McDonalds, silently intimidating an American via the use of a retractable telescope!
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