Thursday, June 17, 2021
The Embezzler (1954)
It’s obviously a very low budget film with just a few sets but that doesn’t matter because this is a very character-driven crime movie. It’s the unexpected relationships between the characters that draw the viewer in, along with an odd bitter-sweet tone.
Henry Paulson (Charles Victor) is, as the voiceover narration informs us, a little man. For 54 years he has led a blameless life. But not an overly happy or satisfying life.
And then Mr Paulson finds out that he has only a short time to live. It’s his heart. he has always daydreamed about doing something exciting, perhaps traveling to exotic places. Now that is never going to happen. Or perhaps it will. After all he now has nothing to lose. He could help himself to the contents of the bank vault, and see those exotic places after all. He might even end up in Rio. Why not?
He gets away with the robbery and then sets off on the first stage of his journey. He gets as far as Eastbourne. Eastbourne is an English seaside resort so naturally it is pouring rain when he arrives and takes up temporary residence at an hotel.
The residents of the hotel are the usual motley assortment. There’s a jovial middle-aged chap who can be a bit of a bore but he’s good-hearted. There’s a young doctor named Forrest (an early role for Michael Craig) and his wife (played by Zena Marshall). There’s Miss Ackroyd, a lady of a certain age who is a secret drinker. And there’s the good-natured landlady Mrs Larkin (Peggy Mount).
Then a fellow named Alec Johnson (Cyril Chamberlain) turns up. This worries Mr Paulson, who of course has reason to worry since he’s on the run. Johnson seems like he could spell trouble.
Charles Victor is rather wonderful. He makes Paulson a very sympathetic character, We want him to get away with the robbery. He deserves a few years of happiness. He’s such a nice man. The whole cast is quite impressive.
I hadn’t heard of The Embezzler until it was mentioned in passing on the Riding the High Country blog.
The Embezzler really is a neat little movie. Highly recommended.
Other John Gilling films that are very much worth seeing and that I have also reviewed include the film noir No Trace and the slightly noirishy spy thriller Deadly Nightshade.