Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1957. Harlequin Productions Ltd.. Screenplay by Ben Barzman, based on the play by Emlyn Williams. Cinematography by Freddie Francis. Produced by John Arnold, Anthony Simmons. Music by Tristram Cary. Production Design by Reece Pemberton. Costume Design by Irma Birch. Film Editing by Alan Osbiston.
Michael Redgrave arrives in London and is immediately taken to see his son’s lawyer; Redgrave has been drying out in rehab and hasn’t been able to get here until the day before his son (Alec McCowen) is to be executed for the murder of his girlfriend. McCowen, from whom he’s been estranged for years, doesn’t want to see him, so Redgrave instead spends time with the family who employed and more or less adopted him (Leo McKern and his son Paul Daneman, stepmother Ann Todd), putting together clues to help prove the boy’s innocence before its too late. Running around the city in a stupor, trying to avoid the effects of his lack of alcohol before then trying to avoid the effects of actually drinking it, he meets with an assortment of increasingly curious characters (the best of them an unforgettable Renee Houston as a woman obsessed with alarm clocks) and finds that the situation doesn’t look at all promising. Emotional, exciting and directed at a break neck pace, this superb thriller only loses its polish in the last twenty minutes, at which point Redgrave’s overdoing the drunk swaying starts to get unreasonable (either walk or fall, make a choice sir) and the ending feels cheaply convenient, but there are so many great performances (Todd, as always, shines, as does a young pre-James Bond Lois Maxwell as a suspect) and the cinematography is stunning.