19 August 2007 | kmoh-1
Tight little thriller
This is probably the greatest film, set entirely inside a pub, ever made (admittedly a small field). The interest is not on the whodunit plot, and certainly not on the plausibility of the premise that the regulars in a pub could solve a mystery in a single night before closing time. But the combination of a group of vintage character actors doing their stuff, in a setting dripping with nostalgic possibilities, is irresistible. Mervyn Johns at his most lugubrious, spending virtually the entire picture on a barstool; Gordon Harker as a bumptious bookie; Roddy Hughes as a vague, cheery doctor; a wonderfully characterised set of bar staff; a hilarious group of cheeky carol singers (including the young Roddy McDowall). The film gives a tremendous sense of the small communities in the middle of London in the immediate post-war, and the transient populations of rich and poor alike who might wander through. The historians and sociologists can detect the wartime social solidarity about to break down; those who lived through the times can enjoy the nostalgia. Warm, funny and brilliantly realised.