Saturday, May 11, 2019
The Frightened Man (1952)
Elderly antiques dealer Rosselli (Charles Victor) is immensely proud of his son Julius. Julius is at Oxford, studying to become an architect. Only Julius isn’t at Oxford any more, having been sent down for being a drunken violent thug. Julius is in fact pretty much entirely worthless but his doting dad just can’t see it.
Julius’s next step on what he thinks is his path to success is to get a job. Not a real job or an honest job of course, but something much cleverer and better than that - driving the getaway vehicle in a robbery by the Camden Mob. He proves to be a failure as a wheelman but he isn’t deterred. Through Amanda he has discovered an opportunity too good to pass up - a shipment of diamonds just begging to be stolen. And being convinced that he is a budding criminal genius he comes up with a plan to steal those rocks and he manages to sell his idea to the leader of the Camden Mob.
There is a sad inevitability about the outcome and that’s one of the things that gives The Frightened Man a slightly noirish flavour - the criminals are rats about to enter a trap and you know they’re just not smart enough to realise that they’re not going to make it.
There is as I said an inevitability about the failure of this ill-advised criminal scheme but the movie does have some plot twists up its sleeve.
There’s more location shooting than you might expect in such a low-budget movie. There are no spectacularly noir visuals but Gilling achieves an effective mood of futility and inescapable failure.
The Frightened Man is one of six films included in VCI Entertainment’s three-disc British Cinema: Classic 'B' Film Collection, Volume 1 DVD boxed set. The transfers are nothing to write home about, being television prints (and in the case of The Frightened Man the image quality is quite iffy at times). On the other hand these are six interesting movies which any self-respecting fan of B-movies in general or British mystery/thriller films will want to see.
The Frightened Man is a low-key but well-crafted and very well-acted crime melodrama with a dash of film noir. Recommended.