Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Crosstrap (1962)

Crosstrap is a 1962 British crime B-movie and it has a plot that has been used countless times. The basic plot had become a cliché twenty years before the film was made. It’s a plot that still gets used and it will go on getting used as long as movies are made.

A young couple, Geoff (Gary Cockrell) and Sally (Jill Adams), arrive at a cottage in the countryside where they’re going to spend a holiday. Sally finds a dead man in the bathroom and then this thug appears from nowhere. Then more bad guys turn up. There’s the leader of the gang, Duke (Laurence Payne), another henchman and a girl named Rina (Zena Marshall) who is clearly a Bad Girl. Not only that, she’s a Fiery Bad Girl. Geoff and Sally find themselves held as hostages by Duke’s gang.

The cottage is near a disused airfield and Duke and his gang are awaiting the arrival of an aircraft in ten hours’ time. That’s how they’re going to make their getaway with half a million pounds’ worth of stolen jewellery.

The problem for Duke’s gang is that there are now two witnesses. The smart move would obviously be to get rid of those witnesses.

So we have a very familiar setup here but Philip Wrestler’s screenplay (based on John Newton Chance’s novel The Last Seven Hours) does add a few twists. Geoff and Sally think that the dead man in the bathroom was killed by Duke’s gang. But he wasn’t. The question is, who killed him?

There’s not one gang, but two. And they’re bitter enemies.

And there are two women in the story and Duke is attracted to both of them. Rina is not likely to take kindly to the idea of Duke trying to get together with Sally. Duke’s big weakness is women. He’s cool and calculating when it comes to crime but impulsive when it comes to women.

You expect double-crosses, and yet get them, but what you also get in this story are shifting alliances and temporary alliances.

You also get non-stop action. If your idea of a fun movie is one in which hundreds of rounds of small arms ammunition get expended you’ll like this movie. In most British B-movies of this era there would be at most one shoot-out. This movie offers one extended gun battle after another. This particular corner of the pleasant English countryside starts to resemble a war zone. There are even explosions. Well, one explosion, but that’s one more than you’ll get in most British movies of this type.

It’s almost like a western, with Duke and his gang hiding out in the isolated cottage surrounded by the rival gangsters.

Every single character in the movie carries a gun at some stage, and uses it. Including both the women.

As you’d expect there’s a fairly high body count.

There’s plenty of romantic and sexual tension as well, as Duke becomes more obsessed with Sally and Rina seethes.

Laurence Payne as Duke and Zena Marshall as Rina are the standouts in the cast. Duke is also the most interesting character. He’s no mere thug, he’s smooth and sophisticated and while we’re not likely to be tempted to sympathise with him we do start to understand what makes him tick.

The other players are adequate enough, although in the case of Gary Cockrell as Geoff I’d modify that to barely adequate.

Crosstrap is included in the Renown Pictures Crime Collection Volume 2 DVD boxed set (which includes ten feature films making it excellent value). The transfer is not great on this movie but it’s OK.

This is not a great movie and it’s not even a particularly good one but in its way it’s enjoyable and exciting. It’s worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment