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THE CRIMINAL

Director: JOSEPH LOSEY

U.K. • 1960 • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 97 MIN.


The Criminal reunited Losey with actor Stanley Baker, with whom he had collaborated so effectively on the thriller Blind Date. Baker plays Bannion, a prisoner who, on release, participates in a racetrack robbery which will lead almost immediately to his re-arrest. Losey might have felt some identification with the main character, an individualist within an oppressive system. ‘I tried to show life in prison as it really was,’ he said, ‘where the guards were bribed and there were ruling gangs in opposition to each other’: even on the outside, Bannion will find similar structures of brutality and betrayal. The film has its lapses in continuity and characterisation, but the visual bravura (the single-take robbery; the kaleidoscopic introduction to Jill Bennett’s dangerously fractured character; the finale in the snow) is impressive, leading French critics to hail Losey as a modern master. Baker’s fine performance is matched by Sam Wanamaker as his crooked associate and Patrick Magee as a sadistic prison guard; and Richard MacDonald’s design and Robert Krasker’s photography contribute tellingly to the prevailing atmosphere of claustrophobic tension.

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