Christmas Crackers continues Lost Reels' series of celluloid classics, curios and forgotten gems with two Christmas bank heist thrillers. Quentin Lawrence’s Cash on Demand (1961) is at once a nail-biting suspense drama, a sly take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and one of the best British ‘B’ movies ever made; The Silent Partner (1978) is a clever, dark, and sometimes brutal cat-and-mouse thriller scripted by Curtis Hansen; a modern-day noir delivering a bottomless Santa’s sack of surprises. Celebrate the Christmas holiday season with Lost Reels at this unique celluloid double feature programme.
Cash on Demand (1961), directed by Quentin Lawrence. B&W. Cert PG. 80 minutes.
Selected by film historians Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane as one of the fifteen most meritorious British ‘B’ movies ever made, Cash on Demand (1961) was produced by Hammer Films for a mere £37,000 and exists in two versions: an 80-minute cut distributed in the US, and a UK version lasting a swift 67 minutes. Based on the teleplay The Gold Inside by Jacques Gilles, the story concerns an officious Scrooge-like bank manager Fordyce (Peter Cushing), who is forced into an audacious heist by the devious Colonel Gore Hepburn (André Morell) two days before Christmas. Grabbing the viewer from the very first moment, the film moves at a tremendous pace with barely a single frame wasted. André Morrell has never been better as the charming slippery robber, and Cushing gives one of his finest performances as a man who thrives on control but who finds himself completely without it - discovering his submerged humanity in the process. The crisp black and white photography is by Hammer stalwart Arthur Grant and the brisk editing is by Eric Boyd-Perkins. Join Lost Reels for a screening of this exceptional film from a rare 35mm print held by the BFI National Archive.
This film print is from the collections of the BFI National Archive.
The Silent Partner (1978), directed by Daryl Duke. Colour. Cert 18. 109 minutes.
Before gaining widespread acclaim as a writer / director for films such as LA Confidential (1997), The Wonder Boys (2000) and 8 Mile (2002), Curtis Hansen scripted The Silent Partner (1978), a dark, deviously clever Hitchcockian neo noir, made in Canada and starring Elliot Gould, Christopher Plummer and Susannah York. Gould plays Miles, a nebbish bank teller who suspects Reikle (Plummer), a shopping mall Santa Claus, of planning an armed bank robbery. After foiling Plummer’s hold up by hiding the bank’s money in his lunch box, Miles finds himself in an increasingly dangerous cat-and-mouse game, each man trying to outwit the other. Gould is perfect as the timid but increasingly self-assured Miles, and Plummer is terrifying as the ruthless sadistic Reikle, a man who will stop at nothing (and I mean nothing) to recover the money. Hansen, who had earlier directed two low-budget features, is said to have partly directed The Silent Partner, and certainly the film is an early career highlight: an unconventional Christmas classic with more than enough twists and turns to satisfy mystery fans while dealing the audience a visceral and rewarding adult thriller.
16mm print courtesy of Lost Reels.