4.8/10
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5 user 1 critic

A Gunman Has Escaped (1948)

| Crime, Drama
A tough guy with a habit of calling other men sweetheart, accidentally shoots a man who tries to prevent him fleeing a robbery, then forces his two accomplices to go on the run with him. ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Harvey ...
Eddie Steele
John Fitzgerald ...
Sinclair
Robert Cartland ...
Bill Grant
Ernest Brightmore ...
Johnson
Maria Charles ...
Goldie
Patrick Westwood ...
Red
George Self ...
Spike
Manville Tarrant ...
Alf
Denis Lehrer ...
Mike
...
Jane
Frank Hawkins ...
Mr. Cranston
Hope Carr ...
Mrs. Cranston
Melville Crawford ...
Inspector Fenton
Hatton Duprez ...
Detective
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Storyline

A tough guy with a habit of calling other men sweetheart, accidentally shoots a man who tries to prevent him fleeing a robbery, then forces his two accomplices to go on the run with him. While all over the news reports, they hide out as labourers on a smallholding, and in true film style one instantly falls for the owner's daughter. But ringleader Eddie doesn't care for anything, and has become trigger-happy to the point of delirium.

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Crime | Drama

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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1.37 : 1
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I can't be too hard on this amateurish cheapie, though it's certainly only of interest to archivists these days...
19 February 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Written by later British horror movie regular John Gilling, A Gunman Has Escaped is a tatty time-waster dating from 1948, though technically it certainly feels as though it was made significantly earlier than that. Obviously 'inspired' by such films as Odd Man Out and Brighton Rock (both 1947), it is a real oddity in that the cast seems to lack any recognisable faces, the story is essentially devoid of incident, and the acting comes across as real repertory theatre-standard stuff. Lead John Harvey gives a music hall-style impersonation of a 'cockney geezer' as a thuggish crook who accidentally shoots a member of the public during a robbery, and has to go on the run with a pair of accomplices; fleeing to the countryside 'somewhere up north', the trio's cover is blown by a salt-of-the-earth farmer in record time (mainly down to the fact that they seem to try and behave as shiftily as possible), before Harvey's moronic ringleader heads back to London for a showdown with the gang boss he thinks has grassed him up...

I didn't recognise Harvey at all when I was watching the movie, though a quick glance at his filmography shows that he actually had minor parts in Hitchcock thrillers (Stage Fright), Hammer flicks (X the Unknown, The Satanic Rites of Dracula), comedies (Private's Progress, Double Bunk), and a whole host of UK TV shows in a career lasting over forty years. Though not helped here by the somewhat dodgy editing and ropey sound quality, his performance certainly feels artificial (I'm no expert, but I'm certain murderous London gangsters wouldn't have been any more likely to use the word 'perisher' in 1948 as they are in 2016), and it is by no means the worst or most incongruous one in the picture. As posh boy army deserter Sinclair, John Fitzgerald seems to be trying to channel Leslie Howard in The Petrified Forest, his performance consisting of nothing but florid, inappropriate Shakespeare quotes and defeatist wisecracks, whilst the rest of the cast are mainly forgettable (that said though, a bit-part player called Frank Hawkins isn't bad as the canny farmer).

The work of a director named Richard M. Grey, who appears to have made hardly anything else, this minor effort's fate as having gone unseen for several decades is not particularly surprising. A museum piece from British cinema's archives that endures only for the academic interest it might hold for film scholars, there is essentially no entertainment value here for the casual viewer of today.


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