Hard-hitting and noncompromising, this Alun Owen screenplay shows the criminal's life in a way it seldom has been seen before--all the sleazy characters, all the dark realities of existence in a jail. Baker, inside for three years, rises like cream to the top of the con population. While
twiddling his thumbs and cooling his heels, he plans a large racetrack robbery. When he gets out, he pulls the job. Then his money washer informs him that the agreed-upon percentage for laundering the cash has gone up. Rather than pay such a figure, Baker buries the loot in a desolate spot--but
not before taking a nice hunk to buy a bauble for current-flame Saad. This annoys old-flame Bennett, so she blows the whistle and Baker goes up for a 15-year stretch. He is offered a reduced sentence if he'll tell the authorities where the money is, but he's determined to do his time and come out
of jail a rich man. His outside gang uses inside pals to put pressure on Baker, but the scheme doesn't work, so they utilize Saad as the hook. A prison riot is arranged; and when Baker breaks out, he unwittingly leads the other crooks to the money. They get rid of Baker and are left digging for
the moolah as the picture ends.
Something is missing from this otherwise crackling film. Baker is the star and the person we are supposed to root for. True, he is a crook and capable of many crimes, but he is a man of principles, low though they are. Somehow he does not inspire empathy, though. Wanamaker's portrayal of Baker's
double-dealing aide, on the other hand, is credible--a study in seething anger. American Sam Wanamaker was an admitted liberal who feared the McCarthy investigations in the late 1940s, so he moved to England and carved out a career for himself in British drama. As it turned out, he was never
mentioned by any committee. This was Magee's first film in an all-too-brief career that was highlighted by his work in CHARIOTS OF FIRE, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Best information suggests that writer/director Jimmy Sangster did some uncredited writing on the script.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Hard-hitting and noncompromising, this Alun Owen screenplay shows the criminal's life in a way it seldom has been seen before--all the sleazy characters, all the dark realities of existence in a jail. Baker, inside for three years, rises like cream to the… (more)