Saturday, June 26, 2010

CAPE FEAR (1962)

Rumble in the jungle.

The Setup
Convicted rapist Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) has just been released from prison after doing eight years hard time, and he’s out to deliver payback to attorney Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), the man whose testimony put him in the hole. But it’s not just Sam he’s after; Cady also has unhealthy designs on Sam’s sexy wife Peggy (Polly Bergen) and 14-year-old daughter Nancy (Lori Martin). As the title credits unfold to the portentous strains of Bernard Herrmann’s music, Cady struts into the Savannah, Georgia courtroom where Bowden is trying a case. The look on his face spells bad intentions writ large. As Sam gets into his car afterward, Cady suddenly materializes and re-introduces himself. “Hello, counselor. Remember me? Baltimore. Eight years, four years and 13 days ago.” Just to let him know he’s back. Just to start f**king with him a little.

Cady’s psychological war of attrition has begun. The next salvo is delivered at a bowling alley, where Cady sips a cold one while watching the Bowdens play. He makes sure that Sam knows he’s there, and by his attitude alone conveys an unspoken yet tangible threat to the family. Bowden subsequently puts in a concerned call to Sheriff Dutton (Martin Balsam), who also happens to be his best friend. Cady is picked up at a waterfront bar (where he’s working his sleazy mojo on the local talent), but when Dutton threatens him with vagrancy, Cady produces a bank statement attesting to his solvency.

Cady has a fatal attraction for the opposite sex.

The ex-con soon raises the ante, feeding Nancy’s dog a fatal dose of strychnine and threatening legal action over a pattern of police harassment. Cady’s game is now clearly apparent, and Bowden is just as clearly helpless. He can’t have Cady arrested for something he hasn’t yet done, even though Bowden knows damn well it’s going to happen sooner or later. While he chews on that disquieting bone, Cady meanwhile brutally assaults the sluttish pickup he’s been sleeping with since he hit town. Nothing personal, it’s meant as a warning to Bowden of what’s in store for his wife and daughter. Cady increasingly targets the latter, visually undressing her at the marina where the Bowdens keep their boat, and sending her into terrified hysterics when he shows up at her school.

Following a failed, desperate attempt to buy Cady off, Bowden finally crosses the legal line, hiring some local muscle to teach Cady a lesson. Only they’re not tough enough, and after Cady has put them in the hospital, the deadly game of cat and mouse enters its final phase: Bowden uses his family as bait at a remote cabin on the Cape Fear River in hopes of luring Cady into the open so he can kill him. Things don’t turn out quite like Sam plans, however, as Cady manages to get the upper hand and force each member of the Bowden clan to confront the unthinkable.

Confronting the unspeakable.

The Payoff
Nearly 50 years after its release, Cape Fear has lost none of its visceral impact. Rarely has a mainstream Hollywood movie so openly confronted the prospect of child rape. Even though the words “assault” and “attack” are substituted throughout, the filmmakers leave no doubts concerning Cady’s depraved intentions. Thanks to the dark brilliance of director J. Lee Thompson and screenwriter James R. Webb, the film is nearly as tough and nasty as the John D. MacDonald thriller it’s based on.

Thompson was fresh from his triumphant direction of The Guns of Navarone (1961) when Peck’s production company approached him to helm Cape Fear. His decision to make it in black and white added immeasurably to its atmosphere of moral instability and primal fear. His subtle handling of the film’s violence, suggesting more than he shows, makes it much more palpable and disturbing. And his practice of letting the audience know what’s about to happen before the characters do effectively contributes to the escalating tension.

The final confrontation reaches an almost unbearable pitch as Cady corners his young victim in a swampland cabin while her parents drift helplessly downstream in their rented houseboat. It’s as dark and despairing a moment as the cinema has given us.

Cady channels his inner beatnik.

The Lawless
Robert Mitchum rarely played out and out villains, but when he did, the results were spectacular. No one who has seen Night of the Hunter (1955) is likely to forget his murderous preacher with the words “love” and “hate” tattooed on his knuckles. The actor brought equal intensity to his role as Max Cady, whose heavy-lidded, baleful stare hints at barely repressed psychotic undercurrents. Mitchum’s powerful physique, on frequent display throughout the film, holds the promise of unstoppable violence. He imbues Cady with a reptilian quality that evokes nothing so much as a ravenous crocodile as he pursues the Bowden family through Georgia swampland in the film’s final minutes.

The revelation of Mitchum’s performance, however, is its redneck hipster quality. Cady is without doubt one of the most visceral predators ever burned onto celluloid. But he’s also an undeniably cool cat, a sociopathic Jack Kerouac, if you will. Cady’s sartorial style — chinos, sport shirt, windbreaker and, most distinctively, a sporty Panama hat tilted back at a cocksure angle — immediately sets him apart from the conservative citizenry of the small Southern town where the story unfolds. Cady doesn’t walk, he saunters. His body language is arrogant and knowing, and his face is set in a perpetual smirk, as if he’s enjoying a secret joke at the expense of all the rubes around him. He’s also a fount of sardonic humor, delivered in streetwise jargon that nicely counterbalances the film’s visual and thematic darkness. His first words in the movie, addressed to an elderly black janitor, are: “Hey, daddy, where does Sam Bowden hang out?” Although Cady uses the word “daddy” as a casual form of an address to an older man, the term also harbors racial and sexual implications that possibly relate to his life in prison. The viewer has already pegged Cady as an unregenerate sleazeball, so anything’s possible.

But what really makes Cady cool is how easily he dominates people and situations. When he’s arrested in a cocktail bar on the orders of Chief Dutton, he doesn't meekly submit, but first ambles over to the sexy girl he’s been eyeballing, tosses a contemptuous glance at her male companion, and says, “I’m going to give you just one hour to get rid of your friend.” “Are you trying to pick me up?” she asks. He relies with a knowing leer and emphatic “Yes,” pushes the brim of his hat down Sinatra style and strolls out like the arrogant badass he is.

Bowden faces his worst nightmare.

The Lawful
It’s a testament to Peck’s physical charisma and acting talent that he holds his own against Mitchum’s malefic magnificence. Peck projects the decency and integrity that were part and parcel of his onscreen persona, but adds some dark shadings to his character. Bowden is a family man and upstanding citizen, but he isn’t above using his police connections to have Cady rousted. He willingly jeopardizes his career when he pays to have Cady beaten up. And his plan to trap Cady not only puts his family directly in harm’s way, but amounts to little more than premeditated murder, no matter how justified.

Cady makes short work of his attackers.

• Thompson adds dramatic weight to the scene in which Cady fends off the men hired to work him over by filming at night and in the isolation beneath a waterfront pier. As the surf relentlessly pounds the shoreline, Cady unleashes his brute force upon his would-be attackers, prevailing even after being slammed in the midriff with a length of bicycle chain.

• When Cady traps Peggy Bowden aboard the houseboat, he slowly backs her against a counter, then suddenly plucks a raw egg from a dish and crushes it in his fist, sending yolk flying everywhere. (Thompson improvised the startling visual metaphor on set.) As Mrs. Bowden tries to recover from her shock, Cady obscenely smears the yolk onto her chest, adding even more disturbing overtones to their encounter.

Cady introduces Peggy Bowden to the pleasures of egg yolk.

The Vernacular
Max Cady [undergoing a strip search at the police station]: “Here, you better check that shirt. I got a coupla jolts of horse stashed under the collar.”

Diane Taylor [the tart Cady sleeps with and later assaults]: “Max Cady, what I like about you’re rock bottom. I wouldn’t expect you to understand this, but it’s a great comfort for a girl to know she could not possibly sink any lower.”

Max Cady: “Hey, buster, you got some salted peanuts — salted in the shell?”
Bartender: “Not in the shell.”
Max Cady: “Okay, forgit it. I see I’m gonna have to educate this town.”

Max Cady: “You just put the law in my hands, and I’m gonna break your heart with it....I got somethin’ planned for your wife and kid that they ain’t neva gonna forget! They ain’t neva gonna forget it, and neither will you, counselor!”

Robert Mitchum [in a telegraph to Peck and Thompson after initially turning down the role]: “I’ve had your bourbon. I’m drunk. I’ll do it.”

Little girl lost.

The End Titles
Director: J. Lee Thompson; screenplay: James R. Webb; producer: Sy Bartlett; music: Bernard Herrmann; cinematography: Sam Leavitt; editing: George Tomasini

Gregory Peck (Sam Bowden); Robert Mitchum (Max Cady); Polly Bergen (Peggy Bowden); Lori Martin (Nancy Bowden); Martin Balsam (Police Chief Mark Dutton); Jack Kruschen (Dave Grafton); Telly Savalas (Charlie Sievers); Barrie Chase (Diane Taylor); Paul Comi (George Garner); John McKee (Officer Marconi); Page Slattery (Deputy Kersek); Ward Ramsey (Officer Brown); Edward Platt (judge); Will Wright (Dr. Pearsall); Joan Staley (waitress)

Friday, June 18, 2010


A victim of fugitive justice.

The Setup
David Janssen was still searching for the one-armed man on his hit television series The Fugitive when he made this dark crime film during a 1966 production break. Written by Mann Rubin and directed by Buzz Kulik, Warning Shot consciously evokes that TV show with its scenario of a man trying to clear his name for a crime he didn’t commit. The film begins with LAPD sergeant Tom Valens (Janssen) on stakeout for a prowler at a large apartment complex on a fog-shrouded night. Spotting a suspicious figure, Valens challenges the man, who runs and, when cornered, pulls a gun, forcing Valens to shoot and kill. A clear case of self-defense, or so Valens thinks. But his world is turned upside down when the victim’s gun is nowhere to be found, and the dead man turns out to be a venerated and selfless physician. Valens is immediately suspended and, worse, charged with manslaughter. An ambitious D.A. and carnivorous media combine to smear Valens
reputation and make him a pariah in the public eye. With his arraignment only 10 days away, the disgraced cop has to prove that the innocent man he shot wasn’t innocent. The deeper Valens digs into the doctor’s past, the more dirt he digs up, but finds nothing he can use to clear his name until a trip to a local pet cemetery unearths some surprising truths.

A life defined by the gun.

The Payoff
This tight little film hews admirably close to the wonderfully written source novel by Whit Masterson. Scriptwriter Mann in fact uses much of the book’s original dialog, which is consistently sharp and on-target. Kulik, whose direction is solid if unspectacular, cut his teeth as a director during television’s “Golden Age,” helming episodes of such programs as The Defenders and The Twilight Zone, as well as a slew of made-for-television movies. That might help explain why Warning Shot feels more like an extended TV show than a feature film. (Kulik generally had less success on the big screen, although Riot (1969) is compelling viewing and Shamus (1973) is one of the seventies’ most underrated crime films.) Kulik’s main strength was his ability to elicit powerful yet naturalistic performances from the most disparate actors. This serves him well in Warning Shot, which features a number of star cameos from the likes of Steve Allen, George Sanders and Joan Collins. Kulik doesn’t allow any of these high-powered personalities to disrupt the film’s overall tone. Kulik also makes effective use of the camera, often framing the action from character-revealing visual perspectives, and utilizing periodic zoom shots that emphasize Valens isolation. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his direction is how he ironically counterpoints Los Angeles’ bright, sunny facade with the legal and moral darkness that threatens to engulf Valens.

Portrait of a grieving widow.

The Lawless
• An apparent pillar of the community who in reality is a gun-toting, drug-smuggling, wife-cheating, debt-ridden gambler. Though he’s seen only once on-camera, his presence shadows the entire film.

• A hip-talking, chick-chasing, bodybuilding, bachelor-padded airline pilot who’s up to his ears in the narcotics operation, and who isn’t averse to committing murder to protect his ass.

A killer smile?

The Lawful
David Janssen gives what is arguably his best film performance in Warning Shot. He movingly depicts Valens’ mounting frustration at the injustice visited upon him, as well as his slow-burn anger at the fellow cops who turn their backs on him. Janssen holds himself in physically and emotionally, which makes his rare outbursts that much more effective. Underneath it all, Janssen makes one feel Valen’s utter loneliness. At the end of each frustrating day, he comes home to an empty bungalow, where he watches TV and drinks buttermilk to sooth the stomach wound he received in a prior shootout. A visit from his estranged wife (Joan Collins) gives him a temporary lift, until she tries to make him give up what she considers a pointless quest to clear himself. The look Valens shoots her is a haunting combination of remorse, pain, anger and sadness.

Feeding time for the jackals.

After visiting the doctor’s office in search of clues, Valens is jumped by the dead man’s son and several of his pals, who put him down and put the boot in with brutal efficiency. Kulik films the assault in a highly stylized manner with slow-motion, distorted focus and odd color shifts. It may not be narratively justified, but give Kulik credit for attempting something different.

Valens loses control.

The Vernacular
Ed Musso [Valen’s partner]: “Even the psycho killer isn’t psycho enough to come out on a night like this.”
Tom Valens: “What does that make us?”

Tom Valens [to an attorney advising him to plead guilty]: “But Mr. Ames, I’m not guilty. Doesn’t that mean anything?”
Orville Ames: “Damned little, my friend....You’re in the right only if a jury says you’re in the right.”

Tom Valens: “Two years ago your husband was broke. Now you’re mourning him in money and martinis. Where’d he get it?”
Mrs. Ruston: “You’re talking to the wrong person. Jim and I had an unspoken agreement. I never asked him how he made his money, he never asked me how I spent it.”

Capt. Klodin: “I think we got a dead one.”
Tom Valens: “Smells like it’s been here awhile.”

Valens confronts the truth — and puts a bullet into it.

The End Titles
Director: Buzz Kulik; screenplay: Mann Rubin; producers: Bob Banner, Buzz Kulik; cinematography: Joseph F. Biroc; music: Jerry Goldsmith; editing: Archie Marshek

David Janssen (Sgt. Tom Valens); Ed Begley (Capt. Roy Klodin); Keenan Wynn (Sgt. Ed Musso); Sam Wanamaker (Frank Sanderman); Lillian Gish (Alice Willows); George Grizzard (Walt Cody); Carroll O’Connor (inquest judge); Stefanie Powers (Liz Thayer); Joan Collins (Joanie Valens); Walter Pidgeon (Orville Ames); Eleanor Parker (Mrs. Doris Ruston); George Sanders (Calvin York); Steve Allen (Perry Knowland)

The quotidian routine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

HAIL! MAFIA (1965)

Crossing the Styx.

The Setup
Two American hit men are dispatched to the south of France to rub out an ex-gangster suspected of ratting out the mob. While ostensibly a vehicle for expat American actor Eddie Constantine, the story is primarily centered on the pair of killers, who are played by veteran character actors Jack Klugman and Henry Silva. Narrative is stripped to the bone, the better to accommodate the film’s existential tone and complex characterizations. The confrontation is staged in the rugged Camargue region of France, where the man on the run, isolated by the barren, windswept terrain, nervously awaits his executioners. During the tough, suspenseful climax, the interplay of personal loyalties and professional responsibilities combusts with startling ferociousness. The bleak resolution leaves the viewer as emotionally devastated as the last man left standing.

The Payoff
Hail! Mafia opens with a number of tropes familiar to crime connoisseurs — nocturnal, rain-slicked streets; pensive soundtrack jazz; tight close-ups on a stolid, trench-coated figure. This one’s name is Rudy Hamburg, his slab-like face briefly revealed by the flame from a cigarette-combusting match moments before a mob torpedo endeavors to put some bullets into him. Director Raoul Levy serves up similar visual touches throughout the film, aided by the stark monochrome photography of Raoul Coutard. New York and Paris are conjured as densely shadowed urban labyrinths, the French countryside as desolate no man’s land. Atmospheric scenes of the killers sharing meals in nondescript diners, motoring down empty highways and stalking their prey during the nerve-shredding showdown are integrated with Hubert Rostaing’s evocative jazz score, creating indelible moments of visual and aural poetry.

Schaft treads softly and carries a big gun.

The gritty cinematography is well served by the discordant visual rhythm Levy applies to the film, as he frequently cuts away from scenes a beat or two before one expects. Much in the Godard manner, Levy’s editing style underlines Hamburg’s emotional fragmentation and growing rift with his girlfriend Sylvia (Elsa Martinelli). It also counterpoints the killers’ mutual dislike and distrust, which is manifest in the way they circle each other like sharks competing for the same meal.

Despite is lamentable obscurity, Hail! Mafia belongs in the Olympus of crime cinema. That its recognition has for decades lagged behind its value is, perhaps, understandable in light of Levy’s subsequent career path. Best known as a producer of Brigitte Bardot films, he seemed destined for a brilliant directing career, but tragically made just one more film before committing suicide at the age of 44. Nevertheless, his legacy is secure on the strength of this iconoclastic take on the genre. Those who like their crime films hard and unsentimental should seek out and hail this overlooked masterpiece.

Rudy's best friend.

The Lawless
Although he’s forced to share the spotlight, Constantine is given a rare opportunity to act rather than just replicate the tough guy poses he flaunted in scores of cheap euro-crime pictures. His depiction of a man caught up in circumstances beyond his control is honest and oddly moving, especially as he and Sylvia play out the end of their love affair. In the opening hard-boiled voiceover, he expresses bitter irony at being targeted for death by the organization to which he’s always been faithful: “I know very few senators, cops or politicians who hate the sight of dollars. The organization has plenty of dollars — and plenty of Lugers and Colts. If it’s a matter of choosing between the banknote or a bullet, most people make the same decision. It’s human nature, I guess. Of course, there are some exceptions: me, for example. I know when not to talk, but nobody believes me, neither the cops...or the others.”

But the film’s revelation — and its greatest strength — is the screen time given to Klugman and Silva, unique actors whose gifts were often underutilized. It’s fascinating to watch these idiosyncratic performers limn the parameters of their enigmatic relationship. Silva plays Schaft, a consummate pro to whom this is just another routine assignment. Klugman is the more emotional Phil, who carries a bitter grudge against his old pal Hamburg for having deflowered his teenage sister. Much of the film is spent on the interaction between this odd couple of killers as they gradually come to terms over their differences. From the start, Schaft views his fellow assassin with distaste. According to his personal code of honor, he could never kill a friend, and considers Phil a rat. The latter, however, genuinely admires Schaft and tries vainly to earn his respect. Despite their initial antagonism, shared values eventually bring them together. Klugman invests his role with his usual hyper-intensity and nervous physical mannerisms. It’s arguably his best dramatic work outside of 12 Angry Men (1957). Silva, one of the screen’s transcendent heavies, is also afforded a rare chance to flesh out a characterization in depth. His performance in this film helped launch him as a successful European action star.

Brother hit men — uneasy partners.

The Lawful
Don’t exist in this film.

A deserted underground garage provides an evocative setting for the film’s opening showdown between Hamburg and a mob gunman. The latter succeeds only in killing Rudy’s windshield before being dispatched by the true professional.

The confrontation in the Camargue unfolds to the rhythm of pistols, shotguns and machine guns, with an added chorus of an unwelcome oil fire that engulfs Hamburg. As he rolls in marshland muck to put out the flames, an outbuilding suddenly explodes, followed by a breathtaking cut to a herd of terrified horses in flight. Hamburg somehow gets up and follows their example, looking like a refugee from Dante’s Inferno, with Phil and Schaft in hot pursuit.

Nowhere to run.

The Vernacular
Rudy Hamburg [after avoiding an assassin’s bullet]: “Why can’t they use top-class killers? Guys who know their business? When one of the big boys gets caught, then it’s the real panic. Yeah, then they really get scared.”

Schaft: “There are certain things that are clean, and other things which aren’t. Do you think our work is clean?”
Phil: “I’m not ashamed of it. Only gutless wonders are ashamed of what they do.”
Schaft: “Yeah, but do you think it’s clean?”
Phil: “Yes, I do.”
Schaft: “So do I. We’ve got a great organization. We’ve got our own laws, and all the guys know those laws. And if you make one little mistake, you get a bullet right in the head. That’s it. That’s the way the business is. But it’s among us. We kill among the organization; we don’t kill other people. If one day I get a bullet in the head — if I don’t go to the chair first — well, it’s normal. You know that? It’s correct. If I kill, it’s right. If I get killed, that’s right.”

Good to the last shot.

The End Titles
Director: Raoul Levy; screenplay: Jean Cau, Raoul Levy; producer: Raoul Levy; music: Hubert Rostaing; cinematography: Raoul Coutard; editing: Victoria Mercanton

Eddie Constantine (Rudy Hamburg); Henry Silva (Schaft); Jack Klugman (Phil); Elsa Martinelli (Sylvia); Micheline Presle (Daisy); Michael Lonsdale (secretary); Carl Studer (Ruidosa); Ricky Cooper (Ben); Tener Eckelberry (Hyman

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Barney Lincoln and his not-so-guardian Angel.

The Setup
Barney Lincoln is a high-life playboy who makes a practice of breaking the banks (and the hearts of fellow card players) at a string of swank casinos throughout Europe. His secret? He cheats. Exhibiting the skills of a cat burglar, Lincoln has broken into Kaleidoscope, card manufacturer to the best gaming houses, and marked the plates used to print the playing cards. While raking in the chips thanks to his ingenious and illegal edge, Barney becomes involved with a beautiful English rose named Angel — who just happens to be the daughter of Scotland Yard Inspector Emmanuel “Manny” McGinnis. She quickly intuits that Barney is onto something more than a run of luck, and drops a few suggestive words into Daddy’s ear. The latter keeps Lincoln under surveillance until he figures out the ruse, then threatens him with jail unless he applies his card-sharping talents in a high-stakes poker game against British crime boss Harry Dominion, whose financial empire McGinnis hopes to destroy.

It helps to have an edge.

The Payoff
From its flashy Maurice Binder titles to its New Wave-inspired camerawork to its jazzy, sitar-accented soundtrack, Kaleidoscope maintains a frenetic visual style and tone of hip irreverence. Robert and Jane-Howard Carrington’s script is chock-full of sophisticated, sardonic repartee replete with double meaning and veiled menace. Mirroring the gaming theme that drives the narrative, all the lead characters are game players of one kind or another. Barney plays a game with the casinos, Angel plays at love and sex, Dominion plays mind games with his minions, and he and McGinnis play cat and mouse with each other.

Jack Smight’s direction is equally crisp and assured. He elicits excellent performances from everyone in the (mostly English) cast, getting them to strike a consistent note of ironic detachment. And he maintains a fine balance between comedy and suspense, often transitioning from one to the other within the same scene. Abetted by cinematographer Christopher Challis, he weaves a visual kaleidoscope, if you will, of brilliantly conceived primary colors and inventive camera angles. As he did for the Paul Newman film Harper released that same year, Smight evokes the sixties’ casual hedonism along with the decadence and violence percolating beneath the decade’s shiny surface.

Card counting is conspicuously frowned upon.

The Lawless
Warren Beatty was a year away from the superstardom conferred by Bonnie and Clyde (1967),
yet he’s even better cast in this film. His slightly smug yet somehow likeable persona suits Barney Lincoln like a well-fitting tuxedo. Beatty repeatedly sends up his romantic stallion image, humanizing his character through an emphasis on his failings and vulnerability. Lincoln is an uncommon criminal, one with no criminal record and enough legally earned wealth to last a lifetime. Asked by McGinnis why he went to so much trouble just to win at cards, he replies: “Well, once the idea occurred to me, it was absolutely irresistible.”

Good as Beatty is, Eric Porter pockets the picture with his dipped-in-vitriol-and-etched-in-acid portrayal of Harry Dominion, the charismatic-creepy underworld figure with a nice line in sadism. He’s introduced in a memorable sequence taunting his assembled crime lieutenants about the informer in their midst. “Oh, what wicked gossip. Tongues will wag. Wait until you hear, gentlemen. It’s too good. I really should save it for the brandy.” Dominion loves to take the Mickey, but deals retribution with impressive wrath. With his hawk-like visage and Napoleon complex, he’s one of the sixties’ most original and compelling villains.

Harry Dominion — a figure cut from the most urbane and disreputable cloth.

The Lawful
As Inspector Emmanuel “Manny” McGinnis, Clive Revill invests his character with disconcerting intensity and a kind of demented charm that tends to keep people off balance. McGinnis takes full advantage of this in his dealings with the criminals and other characters within his orbit. Revill brings his character to life in other ways, too, including cheating his assistant at cards using one of Lincoln’s marked decks, and playing with the miniature steam engines that decorate his office. His daughter Angel is incarnated by Susannah York, whose gamin beauty was at its height, and whose intelligent personality and quicksilver temperament make Angel much more than the usual bedroom appendage to the leading man. In subtle ways, her character is responsible for some of the film’s more enigmatic narrative directions.

The impenetrable cool of Inspector McGinnis.

Mention must also be made of McGinnis’ over-enthusiastic assistant Aimes (Murray Melvin). When ordered to pick up Lincoln “quietly,” Aimes has him roughly grabbed off the street and carted to headquarters with siren blaring. Aimes’ eccentric nature makes him the perfect complement to his even odder superior, and also masks a rather cold-blooded nature. He’s Scotland Yard’s best marksman, a fact he proves with barely repressed satisfaction during the film’s denouement.

Upon his discovery of a police informer among his gang, Dominion pulls the man out of a meeting and escorts him to the cellar, where, with a mocking “What’s the matter, Johnny? Feeling cold?” signals his chauffeur/bodyguard — bedecked in a flame-retardant suit — to bring the Judas’ temperature down a few degrees with the aid of a flamethrower. Also noteworthy is Dominion’s manservant Billy, played by the estimable George Sewell (below), who gives Lincoln a right pasting on the grounds of Dominion
s moated manse.

Nemesis arrives in the person of Billy, underworld manservant.

The Vernacular
Barney Lincoln: “I’m gonna be away a couple of weeks, but when I get back I’d take it kindly, Miss McGinnis, if you’d let me call.”
Angel McGinnis: “Oh, I couldn’t do that. You came out of nowhere in a bright red sports car with no mummy and no daddy. I’d hate to learn that you were real.”
Barney Lincoln: “We can take it in stages.”
Angel McGinnis: “That would spoil everything.”

Inspector McGinnis: “My interests are not primarily concerned with gambling. The department I’m in charge of here deals with homicide, extortion, narcotics and related pastimes as practiced by Britons at home and abroad. It’s a constant irritant to my national pride to realize how busy this keeps me.”

Angel McGinnis [as she and Barney flee Dominion’s henchman]: “I hate guns. And I don’t like fighting.”
Barney Lincoln: “How does livin’ grab ya?”

Harry Dominion [as his driver is about to run down the fleeing Barney and Angel]: “How powerful is our car, Eddie?”
Eddie: “About 350 horsepower.”
Harry Dominion: “350 horses against two breathless children. 350 horses! Well! Eddie, feed those horses — now!”

Giving Dominion a run for his money.

The End Titles
Director: Jack Smight; writers: Robert Carrington, Jane-Howard Carrington; producer: Elliott Kastner; cinematography: Christopher Challis; music: Stanley Myers; editing: John Jympson

Warren Beatty (Barney Lincoln); Susannah York (Angel McGinnis); Clive Revill (Inspector McGinnis); Eric Porter (Harry Dominion); Murray Melvin (Aimes); George Sewell (Billy); Stanley Meadows (casino captain); John Junkin (casino porter); Larry Taylor (Eddie); George Murcell (Johnny); Anthony Newlands (Leeds); Yootha Joyce (museum administrator); Jane Birkin (Exquisite Thing)

To the wicked go the spoils.