Talking to a family friend about what films he looking for,I got told about an Oliver Reed Crime film which he had heard about on Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright's commentary for Wright's Hot Fuzz.Looking round for the movie,I was pleased to discover that it had come out on Pre-Cert Video,but was disappointed to discover that editions of the Video were going for silly money on Ebay.
After finding myself getting priced out on a number of attempts on Ebay,I all but gave up on tracking the title down.Getting happily caught by surprise,a DVD seller revealed that they had tracked down the title,which led to me getting ready to finally take part in some target practice.
Serving time in jail for murder, Harry Lomart is pleased to get a visit from his wife Pat.Looking noticeable different from when he last saw her,Pat tells Harry that she is going to get a divorce from him,due to having started with an affair with a guy who has got her pregnant.Hearing the news,Harry decides to take the news in the most mature manner possible-by punching the glass panel down and smashing Pat's face in (!)
Talking to pal and fellow inmate Birdy Williams,Harry decides to make an escape plan with Williams,with the goal of leaving the UK behind.Giving the prison guards some dirty money that they have made in the jail,Harry and Williams break the prison doors down and escape. Originally planning to get out of the UK straight away,Harry gets Williams to agree over a change of plan,as Pat becomes Harry's sitting target.
View on the film:
Stomping on the knackered streets of 70s Britain,director Douglas Hickox & cinematographer Edward Scaife spread mud and dirt over the film,with the damp flats and crumbling houses smashes Harry's (few hopes) to the ground.Growing flowers out of the dirt,Hickox aims for Harry's target with a tantalising range,by stylishly grinding into Harry's mind with fractured overlapping images from editor John Glen.Backed by an industrial hum from Stanley Myers,Hickox glides across the prison cells with an urgent atmosphere,as Harry and Williams take advantage of the moment.Along with the hard,broken nose street crime action,Hickox reflects on the fury in Harry with a superb circling of mirrors,which crack open Harry not seeing the double dealing being reflected right in front of him.
Taking Laurence Henderson's novel out of the cells,the screenplay by former star cyclist (and Tour De France participant!) Alexander Jacobs keeps the film in its pulp chain gang,with Henderson making Harry's brittle dialogue blunt,and to the point.Pushing Harry's back against the wall like a Film Noir loner.Henderson impressively keeps away from giving anyone a clean cut image,by making everyone from Harry to his two timing wife Pat be brutes who are only after winning their own round.
For the cast,Hicox hits on a prison riot of amazing names,from future TV stars Mike Pratt and June Brown getting the punch on early roles,to Edward Woodward, Robert Beatty and Frank Finlay being rotten to the core.Joined by a wonderfully swift,fresh-faced Ian McShane as Williams,Oliver Reed gives a terrific performance as Harry,thanks to Reed attacking the short and sweet dialogue with a bubbling rage which explodes as Harry begins to suspect that he is the sitting target.
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