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3 user 3 critic

The Siege of Sidney Street (1960)

As armed police surround a house in the East End of London, a young lady under medical supervision nearby thinks back to the events that lead her and a group of Russian refugee political ... See full summary »

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(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Mannering
... Sara
... Toska
... Peter
... Blakey
... Dmitrieff
Bart Bastable ... Sgt. Tucker
... Brodsky
Angela Newman ... Nina
... Lapidos
... Gardstein
... Hefeld
Harold Goldblatt ... Hersh
Christopher Casson ... Police Commissioner
Harry Brogan ... Old Harry
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Storyline

As armed police surround a house in the East End of London, a young lady under medical supervision nearby thinks back to the events that lead her and a group of Russian refugee political anarchists to this situation. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

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Taglines:

Gunmen Vs. The Army! The Bloodiest Battle in the History of Crime

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Drama

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Release Date:

11 October 1960 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Siege of Hell Street  »

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(Westrex Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Trivia

This film features the only acting performance by Jimmy Sangster, famous as a writer of Hammer horror films (and involved in writing this, too). Sangster, uncredited, plays Winston Churchill, who, in turn, is referred to only as "the Home Secretary", which was Churchill's government job at the time. See more »

Soundtracks

Ya Vas Lyu-Blyu
Music by Stanley Black
Lyrics by David Palmer and'Robert Musel (I)'
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User Reviews

 
THE SIEGE OF SIDNEY STREET (Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman, 1960) ***
26 August 2011 | by See all my reviews

I had always been interested in this film, first and foremost because of the fact that my father owns a vintage paperback copy of its novelization, and also because the violent incident (it is uncanny, then, that this viewing – as part of an ongoing tribute to its late scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster – came so soon after the recent and reprehensible London riots!) would inspire the climax of two major titles by influential film-makers, both of whom happen to be among my firm favorites, namely Part One of Fritz Lang's DR. MABUSE, THE GAMBLER (1922) and Alfred Hitchcock's own initial stab at THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934).

Given that this was made by the same producing-directing team (who also shot the film themselves) behind JACK THE RIPPER (1959), another Sangster-scripted effort and with which I actually preceded it, one is not surprised to find the reconstruction at once so meticulous and persuasive. Unfortunately, however, the print I acquired left a lot to be desired: panned-and-scanned from the original Dyaliscope widescreen ratio, the images were being constantly re-framed – forever on the look-out for the most vital action on screen (ironically, at the time I came across it, the film had just been issued on an official DVD, albeit as part of a "British Cinema: Classic 'B' Film Collection" 3-Disc 6-Movie Set)!

Anyway, the film deals with the aftermath of a couple of elaborate robberies that snowball into a veritable battle between the criminals and the forces of the law – interestingly, the opening sequence immediately thrusts one in the thick of the siege, then proceeds to illustrate how it came to be in flashback. These were intended to finance the cause of Russian refugees (looked on with suspicion by the locals and described by a tavern-keeper as a band of "anarchists, atheists…and vegetarians"!) but got botched due to their own imprudent resort to violence (which may well have been an authentic detail of the occurrence and yet, being something of a genre trapping, feels overly-contrived here – similarly, a gang member who is really no more than a boy is compromised by his attachment to a cute stray dog!).

It is thus left to good acting by a serviceable cast to rise above the clichés, particularly with respect to characterization: for instance, the thieves comprise Peter Wyngarde (from THE INNOCENTS {1961} and NIGHT OF THE EAGLE {1962}, and who turned 78 only a couple of days prior to this viewing!) as the intelligent leader of the whole 'rebellious' Russian community, brawny Kieron Moore (co-star of both THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS {1962} and CRACK IN THE WORLD (1965}, and who had coincidentally just appeared in a couple of fine 'caper' movies!) as a brash womanizer (who is not above forcing himself onto his boss' girl!), an elderly member who realizes his time has passed and is glad to stay behind so that his colleagues can make a run for it, another who proves cowardly at his period of trial (i.e. he had been appointed to drive the getaway car but panics at the presence of a 'bobbie') and is subsequently 'executed' by his comrades, etc.

Ditto for heroine Nicole Berger, blinded by her romantic attachment to Wyngarde (interestingly, she is seen to have been mentally unbalanced by the relentless police-grilling in an attempt to extract information from her, and she is also killed at the very end by one of her own via a randomly-fired bullet after the Sidney Street house has been deliberately set ablaze!), and George Pastell (a Hammer regular) as a distinguished sponsor of Wyngarde's revolutionary ideals and who was supposed to arrange their escape to another country (an ingenious ruse utilized by the Police has a local newspaper reporting his arrest, which is bound to shake up the criminals into hopefully betraying themselves by taking a false step!).

Donald Sinden, then, is an effective hero, playing an undercover cop – predictably, he takes more than a passing interest in Berger himself – whose resourcefulness (accentuated by impulsiveness) alerts Scotland Yard as to the hide-out of the outfit…though the offer to induct him into the, by all accounts, exclusive society after one intuitive show of fearlessness beggars belief! By the way, Jimmy Sangster himself makes an uncredited personal cameo appearance here as none other than Winston Churchill, who visits the scene of the blockade under his then-guise of British Home Secretary!


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