A middling but still impressive episode of "Thriller" towards the end of its final season. In style it is very different to the others. It focuses largely on disputes between rival professional, proletarian criminals and while there are elements of the usual series many of the characters and basic storyline would not be out-of-place in "The Sweeney" or other hard-boiled police production.
The story opens with Charley returning home after ten years in prison for bank robbery. He comes in saying, "Charley's home and Charley's rich," to his friend Busby. However he then finds that Busby has been killed. Some rival criminals, led by the refined but ruthless Gadder, appear. They know that he still has money and want a share of it. Charlie makes an audacious escape but is injured in the process. He gets away to Dorset but has been followed - and not just by Gadder's mob. He is trying to get to his brother who has a garage and cafe there but can he avoid the dangerous Gadder? Also heading there are two American tourists who prove to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...
The title suggests that this is about the two tourists, played by Susan Hampshire and Gabrielle Drake. In reality their parts are small and unmemorable. They are really just pawns in the bigger drama of criminal infighting. Although these criminals are certainly prepared to kill their basic motivation is money and they are very different to the show's usual array of psychopaths. These characters are extremely well-drawn, most of all Gadder, excellently played by Dudley Sutton, whose vindictiveness and quiet menace is great viewing. Charley, very well-played by David Daker, is a rather more sympathetic figure but still violent in self-defence and pursuit of his missing money. His brother Sonny, in a strong performance by Bob Hoskins, is more sympathetic still. Although he is prepared to help Charley it is clear that he is essentially law-abiding and wants to stay out of trouble. However he is put in a terrible situation.
There are some other fine characters and performances. Sonny's hapless wife (Rita Giovannini) is terrorised by Gadder. Kemp (John Bailey) is an alcoholic, struck-off doctor, a pathetic individual who has the misfortune to get embroiled in these affairs and likewise is menaced by Gadder and his mob. Granville Saxton plays an enigmatic, sinister-seeming vagrant who seems to be looking for trouble.
Unfortunately there are also weak characters and indifferent performances. Sally and Tracy, the two tourists are dull, and Tracy is infuriating with her inane chatter. Although the characters are American they are played with unconvincing accents by English actresses. Obviously this was done to appease the important US market but I do wonder what Americans thought of such "impersonators". This happened in some other stories and was usually less than satisfactory. Much better to hire genuine Americans or settle for English characters.
The police roles are fairly unimpressive. Most are still adequate but a rural constable, played by John Flanagan, is feeble. With an embarrassing accent and slow-wittedness one gets the impression that this was meant to be at least a partly comic role, which doesn't fit with a tense drama. It also wastes John Flanagan who had shown his talents in "The Double Kill".
One detective also delivers the line that Charley is an old-time criminal who "was only violent to his own sort, never the public." I'm not sure how someone can rob banks without threatening and harming the public but old stereotypes die hard. Discussion between the officers does though raise interesting debate about whether they should care about a violent squabble between criminals - the sort of debate that might surface in "Sweeney"-like dramas.
There are still some tense, traditional "Thriller" aspects to this installment. Robert Tronson's direction is good. There is far more location filming than in other stories which also gives a different air to the action and is very welcome.
The dramatic climax is pretty strong and poignant. It's just a shame that some slips in quality prevent this from being one of the best. However it is still of high quality and would have particular appeal to fans of more conventional crime drama.
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