Life for Ruth (1962)

vt Walk in the Shadow
UK / 88 minutes / bw / Saracen, Allied Film Makers, Rank Dir: Basil Dearden Pr: Michael Relph Scr: Janet Green, James McCormick Cine: Otto Heller Cast: Michael Craig, Patrick McGoohan, Janet Munro, Paul Rogers, Malcolm Keen, Megs Jenkins, Michael Bryant, Leslie Sands, Norman Wooland, John Barrie, Walter Hudd, Michael Aldridge, Basil Dignam, Maureen Pryor, Kenneth J. Warren, Ellen McIntosh, Frank Finlay, John Welsh, Maurice Colbourne, Freddy Ramsay, Lynn Taylor.

When little Ruth Harris (Taylor) is badly injured in a seaside accident, the hospital’s Dr. Jim Brown (McGoohan) tells the eight-year-old’s parents, John (Craig) and Pat (Munro), that she’ll die if she doesn’t have a blood transfusion. Harris, a devoted member of a fundamentalist sect, refuses to let her have one:

Jim: “Religion? What’s religion got to do with it? A transfusion will save her life!”
Harris: “It will deny her everlasting life.”

Sacrificed on the rock of her father’s narcissism, Ruth dies. Jim considers Harris a murderer, and Pat, who’s pretended to share Harris’s beliefs for the sake of her love for him, comes to a similar view. Likewise her parents, Ken (Barrie) and Mrs. Gordon (Jenkins). In fact, just about the only person who believes Harris did the right thing is his father (Keen), also a member of the sect.

Janet Munro as Pat Harris and Michael Craig as her husband John.

Michael Aldridge as Dr. Richard Harvard (left) and Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Jim Brown.

But the cops, in the form of Superintendent Finlay (Warren), aren’t prepared to do anything about it, even though Jim Continue reading

Fear is the Key (1972)

UK / 100 minutes / color / Kastner–Ladd–Kanter, Anglo–EMI, KLK Dir: Michael Tuchner Pr: Alan Ladd Jr., Jay Kanter Scr: Robert Carrington Story: Fear is the Key (1961) by Alistair MacLean Cine: Alex Thomson Cast: Barry Newman, Suzy Kendall, John Vernon, Dolph Sweet, Ben Kingsley, Ray McAnally, Peter Marinker, Elliott Sullivan.

Many of the adaptations of MacLean’s popular novels were epic blockbusters with major stars among the cast: The Guns of Navarone (1961) dir J. Lee Thompson, with Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker and Anthony Quayle, for example, or Ice Station Zebra (1968) dir John Sturges, with Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine and Jim Brown. At the opposite end of the scale lies this quite palpably lower-budget outing: although released as an A-movie it has B-movie written all over it. It can also, with its themes of revenge and godgaming and its convoluted plot, and despite having plenty of sequences of MacLeanesque high adventure and some quite Bondish moments, be considered as lying within the noir genre, and indeed as one of the precursors, alongside such near-contemporaries as KLUTE (1971), of the modern neonoir subgenre.

Fear is the Key - Barry Newman, with a young Ben Kingsley behind as the psycho Royale

Barry Newman as our avenging hero, Talbot. That youthful figure behind him is Ben Kingsley, here playing a psycho, Royale.

Three years ago, in a remote radio outpost, airline owner John Montague Talbot (Newman) was speaking with his wife when the plane in which she, his brother and his son were traveling was shot down by a bogus USAF fighter jet; aboard the downed plane was a fortune in gold and gems being brought out of Honduras.

Now Talbot seems to be a bum drifting through Louisiana. In a remote gas station/bar he picks a Continue reading