Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Life in Danger - 1959 film review

Life in Danger is a short, but pleasingly suspenseful film released in 1959 and starring Derren Nesbitt. The screenplay was written by Malcolm Hulke and Eric Paice, who became dependable television writers in the Sixties, and the director was Terry Bishop, who also worked on several TV series that I recall dimly from my youth.

We see Nesbitt running through the countryside, and soon learn that a dangerous killer has just escaped from a nearby asylum. Nesbitt's character is socially awkward, and he doesn't have any money. A woman takes pity on him and gives him some coins, but his attempt to find work from a local publican goes awry. There is a sign on the wall saying that gypsies are not served, and Nesbitt makes himself scarce after a policeman comes into the pub.

His next move is to go to a nearby farm. Here he befriends an unhappy young girl whose parents treat her badly. She fancies him and when he says he needs some rest, takes him to a secret place in a barn. Her young brother joins them, while at the same time the hunt for the escaped murderer intensifies. A local major, played by Howard Marion-Crawford, tries both to impress his girlfriend and take the law into his own hands.

I enjoyed this film, even though I suppose some might say that the twist is not very satisfactorily foreshadowed. But the pace of the story makes it easy to suspend disbelief. The young girl was played by Julie Hopkins, and I find it sad that her acting career seems not to have got very far. She does a good job in this role, and the presentation of prejudice and vigilante instincts is rather well done, even if some of the attitudes displayed seem very, very out of date. Which, nearly sixty years on, is almost inevitable.

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