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Underrated British crime movie; dark but never dreary
BLACK MEMORY is a cheap British crime film written by John Gilling, later to dominate the B-movie genre of film-making in the 1950s. This one's a little cheaper, a little darker, and a little more dated than most British crime films of the era, but it's certainly not a bad film and it doesn't deserve the low rating it has accrued on this site.
The plot is a straightforward one about a boy whose father is arrested and later hanged for murder. He grows up into something of a tearaway and arrives back in his old town looking for a job. Once there, he discovers that the circumstances surrounding the historical murder are rather murky, and local gangster Michael Medwin is somehow involved.
What follows is a film with a bit of everything; a heist plays a big part in the proceedings and there are the usual tropes of the genre elsewhere. However, it's quite serviceable, and it does have a very short running time which means that it's never dull. I did find that the main characters were a little young to be convincing. Michael Atkinson as the lead is saddled with a deathly dull character although Michael Medwin is much better in an early turn as the villain. Sid James plays in his first film and is a sorrowful supporting character. Jane Arden steals the show as a would-be femme fatale.
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