Laurence Harvey plays Rave, a caddish, smooth-talking (but terminally lazy) playboy with possible psycho tendencies (and a former military man of dubious distinction) who has alienated his father (Robert Morley), gambled most of his wife’s (Margaret Leighton) money away and has conceived of a dastardly plan to convince several other chaps hard on their luck to join him in a mail van hold-up. Richard Basehart is an American Korean War veteran married to Brit Joan Collins who has returned home to her ailing (read: manipulative) mother, and he can’t currently afford to bring her back. John Ireland is an American soldier who has gone AWOL after discovering his vampish actress wife (Gloria Grahame, who else?) has been fooling around. Finally, there is ne’er do well pug Stanley Baker, who has to have a gangrenous hand amputated and whose wife (women don’t fare too well in this film!) Rene Ray, has forked over his meagre life savings to her no-good brother. Each man is desperate, but geez, can’t any of them see that scenery-devouring Harvey is a raving loon? (no pun intended).
Uneven, virtually forgotten 1954 attempt to blend the British ‘Angry Young Men’ genre with the crime-caper genre. This somewhat flat film from the usually reliable Lewis Gilbert (“Ferry to Hong Kong”, “Alfie”, “You Only Live Twice”) has its moments, and some fine work by Ireland (a most underrated actor), Morley (in a mere cameo), and especially Baker (as the most sympathetic character) and Harvey (it’s one of the latter’s best-ever, he’s practically channelling a snarling Christopher Plummer at times), but is a minor effort overall.
Character development is scant, the heist itself isn’t very involving, and Richard Basehart’s lack of charisma and presence in one of the better developed roles is a major turn-off. Noir femme fatale Grahame is a major turn-off too, but then, I’ve never liked her at all.
Overall, it’s watchable for the stars, but it never quite comes off like you wish it would. Screenplay by the director, from a Richard Macaulay novel.