Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Frightened City - 1961 film review

Even before he became James Bond, Sean Connery was an actor whose performances packed a punch, and in The Frightened City, released in 1961, he gives a notable, and indeed nuanced, performance as a gangster called Paddy Damion. Damion can be brutal, and treats his girlfriend Sadie badly, but he is a good friend, even if he chooses his friends from people he's shared a prison cell with, notably an aged gangster called Alfie, and a former burglar (played by Kenneth Griffiths) who is now disabled..

Damion only comes into the story after an intriguing scenario has been established. Herbert Lom plays Waldo, a sinister accountant, who talks protection racketeer Foulcher (Alfred Marks) into joining forces with other gang leaders to create a reign of terror in London The police, with John Gregson to the fore, are struggling to cope with the menace.

But Waldo and Foulcher become greedy, while Damion's wandering eye leads him into trouble when he falls for Waldo's lady friend Anya, played by Yvonne Romain. Romain is convincing as a sultry foreign seductress, so it came as something of a surprise to me to earn that her real name is Yvonne Warren, and she was born in London. She's been married to prolific songwriter Leslie Bricusse from almost sixty years, but the background music in the film is provided by Norrie Paramor and The Shadows.

This is a realistic, and occasionally subtle film which is at least a couple of notches above the ordinary in terms of both screenplay (by Leigh Vance) and performances. The focus is more on the villains than the cops (who are not above breaking the law themselves to try to do justice as they see it), and that works pretty well. And the climactic scene in Waldo's exotically furnished home is nicely done.

1 comment:

Fred Blosser said...

The early '60s U.K. police/gangster films hold their own against the more celebrated U.S. and French products of the time. I'm particularly fond of THE CRIMINAL (in the U.S., THE CONCRETE JUNGLE), with the great Stanley Baker as a career thief, and HELL IS A CITY, again with Baker as a hard-edged police detective.