Monday, 19 January 2015

Gideon's Day - film review

Gideon's Day, also known as Gideon of Scotland Yard, is a late Fifties film based on a novel by J.J.Marric, which was one of John Creasey's many pseudonyms. As a small boy, I watched episodes of the TV series based on the character, George Gideon, which starred John Gregson (Gideon's Way), and when the film popped up on the schedules, I thought it was high time I caught up with it..Creasey wrote hundreds of books, but some people think that the Gideon series included much of his best work.

The film has a lot going for it. Directed by the legendary John Ford, it has a screenplay by T.E.B. Clarke, who is perhaps most renowned for that Ealing classic The Lavender Hill Mob. Gideon is played by Jack Hawkins, one of the most striking British actors of the Fifties, and there is a very good supporting cast. John Le Mesurier and Miles Malleson, two old favourites of mine, both appear in a scene at the Old Bailey, while Anna Massey, whom I once saw give a splendid performance on the stage, made her debut as Gideon's daughter.

The essence of the story is about the packed and varied day experienced by Gideon, and his hapless attempts to juggle work with his home life. He suspends a crooked subordinate (who is murdered shortly afterwards), solves a series of pay snatches (risking his life in the process), is involved in the hunt for a deranged sex killer, gives evidence in a court case, helps to save an informant from a razor gang, and catches a robber who has already killed the guard at a security deposit, Blimey! He even finds time to pop home for lunch and drop into a pub for tea, although both times he is interrupted before he can eat anything.

It's a film that must have seemed very topical at the time of its release,and like most topical stories, it now has a very dated feel. Mrs Gideon, for instance, is very much a housewife of the Fifties, and the portrayal of the police is a world away from Broadchurch or Happy Valley. During the first few minutes, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the film, but I did warm to it. A period piece, yes, but decent light entertainment.


Clothes In Books said...

Gideon was a big deal when I was a child, but seems now to be forgotten. We had the books in our house, and I remember watching the TV series, and I know I have seen the film at some time. Dixon of Dock Green was similar in some ways, but entered the language in a way Gideon didn't.

Philip Amos said...

Creasey churned out a staggering amount in a number of series, far too much to maintain quality. I was a bit staggered to read that he actually 'wrote' in a fashion that owed much to Henry Ford. He had a group of assistants. There would be a number of books underway at any one time. Creasey would write bit and pieces intended for each novel, and the assistants' job was to pick and choose among pages he wrote, fitting them together like jigsaw puzzles. Once coherence was achieved, the book was ready for a gander by the writer, Creasey himself, though in the coded language of publishing he would have been deemed an author rather than a writer, a way of indicating that because someone's name was on the cover, that didn't necessarily mean that he or she wrote the book, or not in the conventional sense. And thus, the quality went up and down like a yo-yo. I recall many, many years ago quite enjoying the best of the Gideon series, written when he started out, but lawdy, there was also such a lot of sheer dross.

Martin Edwards said...

Moira, Philip, as always I'm grateful for your comments. Creasey was a remarkable character, and I'd love to see a biography published.