They Can't Hang Me (1955)

  |  Crime, Drama

They Can't Hang Me (1955) Poster

A senior civil servant is condemned to hang for murder but he claims to have top secret security information...


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12 March 2003 | bob the moo
Average mystery that doesn't deliver on it's potential
Sentenced to death for murder, a civil servant reveals that he has long been a foreign agent smuggling secrets out of the country. He meets with special branch officer Inspector Brown and offers to reveal the identity of an elusive master spy in return for a reprieve. With five days before Pitt is to be hung, Brown sets out to trace the identity of the spy without having to reprieve Pitt.

I was attracted to this film by the shameless title! "They Can't Hang Me" is the cry of Pitt as he is sentenced to death for murder. This happens within the first two minutes of the film in almost complete silence. It is from this point that our story begins - there is never any doubt that Pitt killed the woman but now he wants to deal. The mystery starts well and has potential but it is never filled as fully as I'd hoped at the start. Instead it goes off the rails and becomes baggy and the climax is a real damp squid. It's a shame because it moved quickly for 30 minutes or so and promised much. It is still worth watching once but it isn't very good.

The acting is reasonable for this type of British film of the period and I did quite enjoy the characters. Morgan's Brown is stern logic on force and his side kick from the murder squad adds plenty of light comic touches. Donlan's presence is a mystery and really contributes to the lack of focus and bagginess at times. I guess she was there for the US audience. The bad guys aren't as dangerous or as threatening as we are led to believe from their "master spy" billing, and don't really stick in the memory.

Overall this is an average mystery film but it could have been much better. The good opening and interesting build up in the first half is really good but the film can't deliver on the tension - it should have cranked up but instead it really lets itself go and gets baggy and loses focus.

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