Category Archives: British crime cinema

Dirk Bogarde twilight of the British empire double feature

In a simpler, less stressful time, i.e., a couple of weeks ago, I was looking forward to the start of Melbourne Cinematheque’s season of Dirk Bogarde films. For obvious reasons it was not to be. So I thought I would undertake my own mini-festival in memory of one of my favourite British actors, focusing on his lesser known films.

I might post on a few of these over the next couple of weeks but, for now, the Rank Organisation’s Simba (1955) is first cab off the rank. The movie takes place at the height of what was termed the Mau Mau Uprising, a rebellion by a number of Kenyan tribes against British colonial rule. It began in the early 1950s and lasted until 1960, when the British finally managed to crush the rebels using tactics that they had learnt fighting communist rebels in Malaya around the same period.

Bogarde plays Alan Howard, a somewhat footloose Englishman who visits his farmer brother in Kenya. No sooner has Howard stepped off the plane plan and been picked up by the daughter of another farmer, Mary Crawford (Virginia McKenna, better known for her lead role in the 1956 film, A Town Like Alice), who it is inferred he has a past with, than he discovers his brother has been murdered by the Mau Mai.… Read more

“The Horror Never Leaves My Mind”: Ian Sharp’s ‘Who Dares Wins’

I have just contributed my debut piece for the amazing site, We Are The Mutants. It’s on nuclear nightmares & the amazingly contradictory contradictory politics of Ian Sharp’s 1982 film, Who Dares Wins. A sledgehammer of the 1980s political thriller, influenced by real events and with an avowedly conservative agenda, the film was a favourite of US President Ronald Reagan. But is also accurately captures much of the zeitgeist of the peace movement, which I was active in, of the time.

You can check out my piece in full here.

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The heist always goes wrong, part 4: 10 more heist films you’ve never seen

To celebrate the re-release of my heist thriller, Gunshine State, by Down and Out books, it is time for another of my top 10 heist posts.

This is my fourth post  along the theme of ‘the heist always goes wrong’. Previous posts have been: ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 1: ten of the best heist movies ever made’, ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 2: reader picks and other favourite heist movies’, ‘The heist always goes wrong, part 3: 10 of the best heist films you’ve probably never seen’.

This instalment continues where I left of in part 3, with 10 more unknown or under appreciated heist films that you might want to check out.

So have a read, and, if you haven’t already maybe pick up a copy of Gunshine State in e-book of paperback format here.

Machine Gun McCain (1969)

Even when he was slumming it, John Cassavetes was still incredible and Machine Gun McCain is proof. This hard boiled 1969 Italian film tells the story of a paroled armed robber (Cassavetes) whose plan to heist a Las Vegan casino falls foul of a battle for territory between the east and west cost Mafia. Cassavetes’s co-starts include Peter Faulk, Britt Elland, and such Italian genre film stars as Luigi Pistilli and Grabiele Ferzetti.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Brighton Rock

Today’s Pulp Friday is linked to my recent post on Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir, an upcoming biography of the author of the classic crime novel, Jack’s Return Home, which you can read here.

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed was how Triplow weaved into his narrative a discussion of the cultural touchstones that would’ve influenced Lewis as he was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. As Triplow makes clear, much of this was American, such things pulp novels and film noir. But among the local influences name checked by Triplow is Graham Greene’s novel, Brighton Rock, filmed in 1947 by John Boutling and starring a young Richard Attenborough as the vicious hoodlum, Pinkie Brown. A screen adaption shifting the story to the early 1960s and making Pinkie a moped driving mod was released in 2010.

The novel, which arguably made Greene’s name as a writer, was first published in the UK by Penguin in 1938 and has been republished numerous times. In addition to the classic orange Penguin cover, the book also received a more pulpy treatment by overseas publishers. One of these includes Australian pulp publisher Horwitz Publications, who released the edition above in 1961. This is one of a number of Penguin books republished by Horwitz, which the Australian company jazzed up with one its trademark lurid covers.… Read more

Book Review: Getting Carter, Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir

The time is past when one could accurately describe Ted Lewis as a lost or under appreciated author. His best books have recently been re-released, Mike Hodge’s 1971 film, Get Carter, based on Lewis second novel, Jack’s Return Home, continues to be seen as a crime cinema classic, and Lewis’s profound, albeit posthumous, influence on the origins on Brit Noir is regularly reiterated by many of the leading lights of crime fiction.

But we know little about Lewis as a person and the influences on his work. Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir is obviously the product of considerable time, energy and shoe leather spent hunting down the facts of Lewis’s life. That Triplow doesn’t completely succeed in unravelling all the mysteries surrounding Lewis’s spectacular rise and fall is not for want of trying and, it must be stressed, the book is none the worse for it.

Contemporary literary culture, with its focus on the writer’s journey, literature as personal confession and the book scribe as media celebrity, is a relatively new phenomena. Lewis went to his grave without leaving a detailed archive of papers or journals and having only done a handful of newspaper interviews. He had neither the time nor, one suspects, inclination to record his inner most thoughts.… Read more