Jack Hawkins is Scotland Yard in this enjoyably traditional British Crime film from Ealing Studios. Optimum UK R2 DVD.
Yard receives an automatic alarm call from a building being broken
into, but when the police arrive on the scene they discover no-one
there but the caretaker who shows them around. Detective Tom Halliday
(Jack Hawkins) is brought onto the case when it is discovered that the
safe is empty and that the caretaker has been off sick for several
days. He comes to the conclusion that this incident is connected to a
number of unsolved safe robberies, all of which seem to involve the
same make of safe and no visibly forced entry. Along with the budding
young Sergeant Ward they set out to track down this man...
The only film script from regular television and radio writer Robert Barr, The Long Arm
is more remniscent of the traditional crime stories than the
social-realism that would come to dominate British cinema, and most notably crime
films during the 1960s. In particular, the lead character
is distinctly middle class with a happy home life and enjoys his work.
The script is strong and although rather slow to get started, is very
effective providing a strong mystery and some clever twists and turns.
fans will not find much to enjoy here as the film is almost
entirely dialogue based, but fortunately it is very well written and
the film never drags and it does avoid the gratiuitous action scenes
that marr many similar films. Barr is very thorough in keeping the plot
realistic and avoiding any holes - all of the police deductions are
plausible and logical, while the characters are all believable, with
some nice details that help to provide atmosphere. The tone is often
quite lighthearted although it never descends into comedy and there are
a couple of quite poignant moments, made more effective by the very
British understatement with which they are presented. Well timed at 90
minutes, it all builds to a suitably thrilling climax made particularly
effective by the strong characterisation.
Expirienced Ealing director Charles Frend does a rather straight-forward job although an impressive
sequence of a barely concious man's point-of-view of an interview gives
the film some flair. Largely set-bound the film looks fine, although
the hit-and-run does have some very noticable optical effects.
Occasional film composer Gerard Schurmann (The Bedford Incident (1965)) provides a standard orchestral soundtrack.
Hawkins is perfectly cast in the lead role and looks every bit the
classic British detective, while being equally good in the domestic
scenes. Although there are no big names, a number of familiar faces
fill out the rest of the cast, including Ralph Truman, Geoffrey Keen
and Sam Kydd and there are generally good performances all round.
different, and an interesting comparison piece to the better known
social-realist British crime movies that followed in 1960s, The Long Arm
remains by itself a well written and enjoyable production and comes
recommended, particularly to fans of classic British cinema.
famous in it?
Jack Hawkins - the British actor who came to fame in The Cruel Sea (1953) and later went to star in Zulu (1964)
Directed by anyone
Charles Frend - best known as an Ealing Studios regular, helming such films as Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and The Cruel Sea (1953), he started off as an editor, including work on Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage (1936).
Any gore or violence ?
Who is it for?
Fans of classic British cinema, and Jack Hawkins fans will certainly enjoy this.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1 fullscreen. Black and White.
The film is very strong visually, with only light grain and very good detail.
Original English mono - sounds okay, but audio levels are very low and the sound is noticably distant in a few scenes.
(UK, Europe) - PAL
Not otherwise available.
The film is believed to be fully uncut. English language print.
A solidly written, directed and acted film and a nice change from the more gritty crime films that were to follow. Recommended.
A decent looking print, although not so strong on the audio. Completely lacking in extras.