Escape by Night (1964) Poster

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8/10
Interesting little "b" movie
zebulonguy4 September 2007
I don't agree fully with the first reviewer of this film. Whilst I accept that all the clichés are indeed overworked and obvious as the previous reviewer points out , the film itself is entertaining in other ways. As a period piece of the 60's it is great to see that the British stalwarts are all there. Terence Longdon , the lead is o.k. It's good to see Harry Fowler in a typical wide eyed cockney performance. Also of interest is Alan Wheatley ( t.v's villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in the Richard Greene - Robin Hood series ) and lo and behold there is John Arnatt ( the deputy sheriff from the same series ). This time however they are on opposite sides of the law. I suppose it's especially interesting for me as for many years I was a friend of Alan Wheatley's. He was a fine educated man who enthralled me with his tales of filming and the many stars he worked with. I always enjoy his film performances.Then there is Jennifer Jayne ( from t.v's William Tell ), Peter Sallis, Robert Brown, all great supporting actors of British cinema. Taken as a low budget filler there is much enjoyment to be had from the film. O.k. so prisoner's bus is hi jacked and the passengers who all but one are criminals are left stranded in a barn covered with paraffin. One of the prisoners is a loony, another is a decent guy who may have committed fraud, another is a petty thief who has to discover the error of his ways, plus we have the lead's character who killed a guy attempting to rape his wife. So there you have it, all the plot lines are indeed cliché, but the acting from the stalwarts fleshes out the characters and time flies by. Give it a whirl and don't be too harsh.
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6/10
Lively (if slightly dated) British drama
magyardave200219 January 2015
This looked to be a possibly decent action movie from the early 1960's and I wasn't disappointed. Having missed the opening credits when it was shown on television, I nonetheless identified four of the cast (Longdon, Sallis, Fowler, Meadows); all stalwarts of British screen and TV. The plot could have been straight from 'The Tales of Edgar Wallace', the box-set of which I own and love! England isn't like it's portrayed here anymore but it was like that then in terms of values, crime and punishment, scenery, dress and even the vehicles and road markings etc. People shared WW2 experiences and this often included the characters and of course the actors who are so professional in their performances despite some shortcomings in story and other aspects of film-making. Yes, it's not as good as some of my favourite classic British films from the preceding years such as 'The Cruel Sea' or 'The League of Gentlemen' but this has a decent 'B' movie plot including one or two unexpected twists and keeps your attention until the not entirely predictable ending.
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5/10
Average, long-forgotten British thriller
Leofwine_draca15 July 2015
CLASH BY NIGHT is a low rent British crime film. I initially thought it was a Butcher's Films production but it turns out to be from a rival studio. The plot is slightly reminiscent of SPLIT SECOND in that it deals with a gang of ruthless criminals who manage to escape from their transport and take a group hostage. Instead of a nuclear explosion, though, here they lock various prison guards, policemen, and other prisoners into a petrol-soaked barn with the threat of imminent immolation.

Part of the story follows a police investigation as they attempt to track down the culprits while another follows the melodrama taking place inside the barn. Given that this is an entirely low budget production, there isn't a great deal of suspense or tension here, but there are some fairly good performances from the familiar cast members. Terence Longdon (a familiar face from the Carry On films) is the leader of the gang, but my favourite performance came from Peter Sallis (LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE), playing a simple fellow with a passion for fire. What a performance, a total opposite to his later parts!
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Modest, but charming and engaging British crime drama.
jamesraeburn200325 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A gang of ruthless criminals hijack a bus en route to jail and release their leader, the dangerous Bart Rennison (Tom Bowman). They then lock the warders and the other prisoners in a barn soaked in paraffin, which they threaten to set alight if they attempt to escape before morning. But, there is a more immediate threat to their lives because it is Bonfire Night and if a firework should strike the barn, then...

Although it is set back by some unconvincing and overly simplified dialogue, this modest British b-pic remains an engaging and occasionally charming crime drama from veteran director Montgomery Tully. It expands upon its typical 'B' movie plot by placing emphasis on the prisoners, how they came to be sent down and what eventually happens to them all. Tully, who co-wrote the screenplay, succeeds in fashioning a thought provoking, and at times, even critical look at the justice system. It is sympathetic to those who have been unfairly sentenced and generally harshest on those who deserve it most or are without repentance. Bart Rennison, for instance, whose gang bust him out of custody, killing one of his warders in the process are killed off early on in an ironic twist of fate when he and his confederate are making their getaway in a speeding sports car that they take over a hump back bridge at 80mph and are killed. Meanwhile, Martin Lord (Terence Longden) is a man who was convicted of unlawful killing when he intervened against an intruder who was attempting to rape his wife. We can see that he had no intention of killing him - he just wanted to knock him around a bit - but he fell and cracked his head on the fireplace and died. He strikes up a friendship with a small time burglar (Harry Fowler in a charming light comedy part) whom he persuades to turn over a new leaf by offering him a job on his poultry farm when they are both released, which he accepts. In addition, the pair find a way out of the barn and sneak away so that Martin can spend some time with his beloved wife (Jennifer Jayne) before he makes it to jail and begins his sentence. While they are gone, one of the other prisoners, the paranoid and mentally unstable Victor Lush (Peter Sallis), strikes a match setting the barn on fire. Thankfully, Lord and his mate arrive back at precisely that moment and are successful in getting most of them out in the nick of time. Only, tragedy strikes when Lush gets trapped inside and is killed in the inferno. Just before the end credits roll, the police arrive and believe that Longden and Fowler deserve remission for their bravery. We can also sympathise with Alan Wheatley's former army officer turned insurance man, Ronald Grey-Simmons, whom was sent down for embezzling his clients' funds. He has taken a very noble attitude to his sentence, no doubt due to the military discipline installed into him, that he has been found guilty and must therefore serve his time and behave impeccably whilst inside. In a flashback scene we see that his wife (Vanda Godsell) is only concerned about her standing among her friends, her son's education, money and "What will everyone think if I'm married to a convict", is her general attitude. It seems obvious to the audience that Mrs Grey-Simmons must have had expensive tastes and, in all probability, her husband probably turned to embezzlement in order to pay for the lifestyle to which she wanted to be accustomed.

Overall, I would highly recommend Clash By Night to anyone who hasn't seen it. It was available on DVD thanks to the splendid Renown Pictures and quite often turns up on Talking Pictures TV. It is one of Montgomery Tully's better second features and I found it thought provoking and charming in equal measure. The film is Harry Fowler's thanks to his delightfully comedic role as the small time crook, but there are other interesting British actors to look out for including Peter Sallis, Alan Wheatley (The Sheriff Of Nottingham in the Robin Hood series) and Jennifer Jayne who I best remember for her part alongside a young Donald Sutherland in the Vampire segment of the classic portmanteau horror Dr Terror's House Of Horrors.
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3/10
Tiresome and dated
Zipper691 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Hard to believe this dates from 1964, the clichéd plot could be from any English quota quickie of 20 years earlier. The risible idea of a mixed bag of prisoners being transported in a civilian coach from court to serve their sentence is bad enough. Add the full complement of stereotypes; chirpy Cockney thief, ex-Army Major in for fraud, a retarded man who killed accidentally, the religious fanatic who "took brotherly love too far" (Hmmm...they didn't pursue that one...) The leading man hewn out of English oak killed a man who attacked his wife (so quite nice, really)and thanks to the plot manages to get home for a little snogging session. A fair example of WHY the British film industry died, static, stagey and lacking any narrative drive or excitement.

PLOT SPOILER A gang boss is sprung from the coach and the remaining prisoners and guards are locked in a barn which is doused in paraffin whilst bad guys wait outside to set it alight if they try to escape (why?) In the event, the escape "plan"(Hah!)goes awry when the getaway car (a nice Austin Healey 100/6) crashes and kills him - since the budget didn't run to wrecking cars you get this in a verbal police report, meanwhile the hero remembers a trap door for dogs in the barn (don't ask)and with the chirpy Cockney goes home to wifey, but returns to the barn just as the retard sets fire to it from the inside, all escape but the retard runs back in to get some flowers and gets turned into a crispy critter. Thankfully, the police arrive, hero and Cockney are given pats on the back and driven off to jail.
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1/10
Way below average
sausalito-9389312 May 2017
Other reviewers on this page have pointed out the glaring implausibility of the plot's central planks but that aside, the script, even allowing for the strictures of the period, is laughably bad. Compare The League of Gentlemen from 3 years earlier - another plot bringing together a group of ne'er-do-wells - with Bryan Forbes' clever, arch script nudging knowingly against the limits set by the mores of the time. That's how it could be done. Meanwhile, in Clash By Night: 'I shan't tell you again' is the stern admonishment of a prison officer to one of his charges who is talking too much on the bus. And 'They must be very proud of you' one of the prisoners tells the other prison officer, with no trace of irony, on hearing he lives at home with mum and dad, as they sit having a bit of a chat a few feet from the murdered corpse of his colleague and with the very real prospect of death by immolation hanging over them. I think most of us allow a bit of leeway when watching films from earlier eras, they can be interesting for all sorts of reasons but, frankly, this is dreadful.
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5/10
Flawed Thriller
malcolmgsw26 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
There are a number of flaws in the film which have to be accepted before you can even consider the film.Firstly prisoners would not have been driven from court to prison in a coach.the vehicle would not have been driven by a civilian driver.The prisoners would have been searched before they were taken into court.Matches would have been found and confiscated.If prisoners hadnt arrived at their prison within a couple of hours an alarm would have been raised.If Terence Longden had used reasonable force against the intruder he would not have been prosecuted.When you take away these plot points you aren't actually left with much of a film.It is though quite entertaining on its own particular level.don't expect too much and you wont be disappointed.
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