11 February 2016 | seglora
post war film noir UK deserving minor classic status
The Brazilian born director Cavalcanti started his film career with mostly documentary film before the World War11 .He worked mainly in France and the UK, and had a part also as a sound engineer, in one of the most famous British documentary film ever "Night Mail" (1936). After the war, Cavalcanti was active as a director first in the UK until the beginning of the fifties and then mainly active in France. During his stay in the UK he directed some famous films like two segments in "Dead of the Night"(1945) and "Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" (1947). "For them that trespass" (1949) is an interesting crime drama in Edwardian times . The photography in black white is excellent and gives the feeling almost of an expressionist film in the mould of the early German cinema. The later famous director J Lee-Thompson was involved as a script writer. The scenes involving the railway workers and their work is sometime reminiscent of Renoir's "La Bete Humaine" (1938). The story is about an ambitious young writer from the wealthy suburbs wanting to experience the true raw life in the lower depths on the "wrong side " of the road. However, the film quickly transform itself into a crime drama with revenge. Richard Todd is the petty thief wrongly accused of murder and becomes actually the main role in the film. Todd has perhaps some forced Scottish accent but many of the scenes from the lower depths has a genuine feeling. As usual for British film from this time period, the minor characters are excellent. Frederick Leister plays the Vicar, which has only a few minutes role but during that time he encapsulates completely the role of a laid back, eccentric clergy man full with understatements. Another extra ordinary minor role is the Mad Artist played by George Hayes. It is difficult to play insane roles convincingly and they are often prone to exaggeration. However, Hayes has found the right balance and his facial expression and eyes are very compatible to a delusionary mind. It is strange that this film is not more well known. It is very entertaining and interesting to watch to the finish. This together with a beautiful photography, fine acting and an interesting plot, makes this, in my mind, a minor British classic film after the war. "For them that trespass" (1949) is deserved to compete for our interest with much more common film titles during this period.