(director/writer: Lewis Gilbert; screenwriters: Vernon Harris/based on the novel by Richard Macauley; cinematographer: Jack Asher; editor: Ralph Kemplen; music: Georges Auric; cast: Laurence Harvey (Miles “Rave” Ravenscourt), Gloria Grahame (Denise Blaine), Richard Basehart (Joe Halsey), Joan Collins (Mary Halsey), John Ireland (Eddie Blaine), Rene Ray (Angela Morgan), Stanley Baker (Mike Morgan), Margaret Leighton (Eve Ravenscourt), Robert Morley (Sir Francis Ravenscourt), Freda Jackson (Mrs. Freeman), Lee Patterson (Todd Maslin), Walter Hudd (Dr. Reed), James Kenney (David), Susan Shaw(Doris), Sandra Dorne (Girl), Leslie Dwyer (Stookey); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: James Wolfe; Wienerworld; 1954-UK)

The Anglo-American cast work well together.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Prolific Brit director Lewis Gilbert (“Educating Rita”/”Ferry to Hong Kong”/”Alfie”) helms this satisfactory but dreary film noir, that’s cowritten by Gilbert and Vernon Harris. It’s based on the American novel by Richard Macauley. The Anglo-American cast work well together. It tells of four characters thrown together because of their desperation for money, who commit a violent armed robbery and pay the piper in the end.

There’s a long backstory that introduces the four main characters–Joe Halsey (Richard Basehart), Mike Morgan (Stanley Baker), Eddie Blaine (John Ireland), and Miles Ravenscourt (Laurence Harvey)–and their wives. The film drags its feet doing the back story but excites during the climactic chase scene in the underground stations after the robbery.

The American Joe has just returned from the Korean conflict and gets his clerk’s job back. He quits when his boss refuses him time off to fly to London to bring back his sexy mother-dominated Brit wife Mary (Joan Collins, only 21), who is over there taking care of her hateful mom (Freda Jackson). Joe is broke and can’t afford return tickets to NYC when his witch-like mother-in-law keeps insisting Mary stay.

Londoner Mike fights his last professional fight with a broken hand and plans to use the money he saved to open a small business. But plans change when his wife Angela (Rene Ray) uses his savings on bail for her untrustworthy career criminal brother (James Kenney), who skips the trial and thereby Mike loses his life savings. Also Mike’s hand is amputated, which means he can’t return to boxing.

American Air Force sergeant, Eddie (John Ireland), discovers his actress wife Denise (Gloria Grahame) is committing adultery with an actor (Lee Patterson) and goes AWOL to straighten things out.

Amoral aristocratic womanizing London playboy Ravenscourt owes gambling money and his wealthy wife Eve (Margaret Leighton) refuses to foot the bills anymore and gives him an ultimatum to come with her to her daddy’s coffee plantation in Kenya and reform or else to forget about the marriage.

The boys casually meet in the Four in Hand pub and become chums over the course of a few nights, as the three good guys tell of their financial woes while Ravenscourt pretends to have no worries but is nobly willing to help them by organizing the heist of a mail van. Despite promising the heist will not be violent, Ravenscourt arms the boys with guns. While waiting in the car for the van to enter the post office, Ravenscourt goes psycho and kills a policeman who asked them to move their vehicle. After getting the sacks of money and hiding it in a church yard, Ravenscourt starts eliminating them one-by-one. By the end, we learn that crime doesn’t pay, as all of them are eliminated by their own hands.