92 minutes| U.K.| 1947| Black and White| 35mm

This is vintage British film noir, inviting comparison with Hollywood noir classics like Double Indemnity and Scarlet Street in its murky drama and its intense Expressionist imagery. Richard Attenborough is superbly sinister as the young killer embroiled in gang warfare in Brighton and tormented by religious and sexual guilt when forced into marriage with a young waitress (Carol Marsh) to prevent her from testifying against him. On his trail is a righteous spiritualist, played by Hermione Baddeley as a cross between Miss Marple and Mae West. Greene’s superb novel was influenced by the 1930s French thrillers he so admired, particularly Pepe le Moko, and the film adds imaginative flourishes of its own, notably a frightening murder on a fairground ride appropriately entitled ‘Dante’s Inferno’, and a clever ending that adds a welcome layer of irony and compassion to the novel’s bleak coda.

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