SOURCE: bfi  Monthly Film Bulletin vol. 14, Spring 1947, p.47.



Certificate: A. Distributors: General Film. Producers: Two Cities. Director: Carol Reed. Director of Photography: Robert Krasker. Screen Play by: F. L. Green and R. G. Sherrif, from the novel by F. L. Green. Leading Players: James Mason, Robert Newton Kathleen Ryan, F. J. McCormick, Denis O'Dea, Fay Compton. 10,380ft. 115mins.

Drama. Johnny MacQueen was leader of an illegal political organisation in Northern Ireland. To get funds he led a raid on a bank, was wounded and failed to escape with his comrades. For eight hours police hunted him through the city. One of his companions tried to decoy the police, failed. Various citizens succoured him tentatively and fearfully, pushed him on as soon as they could. One betrayed him and other members of his organisation. His girl friend nearly got him to a ship and safety; but the police closed in. The ship hooted, sailing. Girl and dying gunman realised the hunt had ended. She fired a gun to draw an answering police fusilade which killed them both. This film puts Reed high in the first rank of directors. It is not a great tragedy of deep‑searching characterisation but it is a compelling drama of the chase, geared to an unlagging tempo. It threads through the tight‑woven pattern of the city's life with an uncanny percipience which gives it a communal realistic human background yet never fogs or retards the essential progress to doom. Although his story is, in essence, episodic, Reed uses sight and sound ‑ the crowded scene or the single image, massed clamour or the isolated single noise ‑ with such a rightness of varied emphasis that he achieves a rhythmic flow which is unusually smooth and always truly cinematic. And the beauty is enhanced by the care lavished on sets and decor, by photography which is poetically sensitive to light and shade, to the eloquent angle and the incisive composition. And there is the acting ‑ a rare collection of sharp‑etched characters. With few words to speak, Mason gives a sustained picture of suffering which is a tour-de-force. But the rest of the players ‑ many from the Abbey Theatre ‑ are right up with him in accomplished performance, in humanity and sincerity. F. J. McCormick, Fay Compton, Maureen Delany, Robert Newton, Denis O'Dea, Kathleen Ryan . . . there is space only for the tribute of the mention of their names ‑ and then not all of them.

Suitability: A.B.


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