Thursday, March 30, 2023

Thursday thriller

If the world today is fixated on women and girls, with men filling the bit roles along the way, this film is about the fourth completely forgotten demographic in 2023 ... a boy ... and not only a boy but a 1950s boy. Did the 1950s actually have boys?  I ask for a friend.

This thriller was the first film directed by Clive Donner and it is a very good start to his long career. A jewel robbery in Hatton Garden in London is planned and a policeman's uniform is required for the heist. The girlfriend of one of the gang persuades a teenage boy, Freddie, who is infatuated with her, to borrow his own father's uniform. 

The robbery takes place but soon things start to unravel. The secret place of the title is an actual hiding place but it could refer to Freddie's heart and the turmoil that occurs in it. Freddie is played really well by Michael Brooke, who captures the intensity and confusion of a teenager who doesn't quite understand the world but he is also caring and eventually quite heroic. 

The other main members of the cast are excellent too; Belinda Lee, Ronald Lewis, Michael Gwynn and George A. Cooper. A young David McCallum also appears in an unheroic part. There are also several child actors in brief moments who are just so right that one suspects they were just local kids recruited for the film.

Most of it is shot on location in London, still showing signs of the war with bombed out buildings and empty spaces. As a Londoner it is interesting to see familiar places filmed 60 years ago. 

There is no background music where you might expect some, such as the tense robbery scene and the chase at the end but both sequences work really well. The photography of the chase at the end around a half built building is very noir, great use of light and shadow.

An engrossing film, and as in the film, a gem to be re-discovered.

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