Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
United Kingdom, 1960. Independent Artists, Julian Wintle/Leslie Parkyn Productions. Story by John Guillermin, Peter De Sarigny, Screenplay by Alun Falconer. Cinematography by Christopher Challis. Produced by Peter De Sarigny. Music by John Barry. Production Design by George Provis. Costume Design by Vi Murray. Film Editing by Ralph Sheldon.
A revenge tale that resembles the kind of grindhouse delights that would be made by less prestigious studios in the decades to come, this is an exciting drama that ably shows off Peter Sellers‘ ability to create wholly rounded characters without necessarily relying on comic techniques. Richard Todd plays a cosmetics company salesman who has his new car stolen from outside his workplace. This is economically devastating for him, he needs the car to make his appointments on time and he needs to keep his job in order to pay the car off, life at home in his cramped apartment with wife Elizabeth Sellars and their young son is a daily struggle. Looking into his vehicle’s disappearance, he comes to understand that it has been taken by a ring of car thieves who operate out of a legitimate front, a garage owned by Sellers that hides the daily intake of stolen automobiles that are repainted and resold for profit. Todd alerts the authorities to what is happening but they tell him that his involvement is more of a hindrance than a help, and his continued obsession with getting back what’s rightfully his threatens to estrange his wife, who understands the monetary value of the missing item but worries that her husband is losing himself in his obsession. Sellers sports a calm evil grin as he confidently assures himself that this little man can’t do him any harm, but as Todd continues in his persistence to come after him, he grows more desperate, increasingly cruel to his pretty young moll (Carol White) who is aiming to leave him for cute young pop idol Adam Faith. Director John Guillermin never loses sight of Todd as the centre of the story, who increasingly isolates himself from the support the police and his family as he maintains his need to restore his property, the screws tightening towards the exciting, violent climax as we breathlessly wonder how the story will turn out.