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Don Starling (John Crawford) has just broken out of jail, but he
already plans his next coup, robbing the earnings of bookie Gus Hawkins
(Donald Pleasence) before Hawkins' employees have a chance to deposit them
at the bank ... and Starling goes through with his plan too, even if it
means he has to kill the girl (Lois Daine) who has the bag full of money
handcuffed to her wrist ...
Inspector Martineau (Stanley Baker) is on the job to solve this case of
theft and urder, but even though there are no concrete clues leading to
Starling Martineau knows right away it's his handwriting, so he doesn't
merely collect evidence but also questions Starling's associates, first
and foremost because Starling needs a place to hide out - and by
questioning his associates, Martineau also stumbles upon Gus HAwkins' wife
Chloe (Billie Whitelaw) and eventually learns Starling has - of all places
- spent a night in the attic of Hawkins' house ...
and his men are able to track down Starling's accomplices (Charles
Houston, Joby Blanshard, Charles Morgan) and are confirmed that they are
on the right track, but they are still unable to find Starling ... until
rather by chance, Martineau runs into him at furnisher Steele's (Joseph
Tomelty), the place Starling broke in when he was last arrested and where
he has hidden his loot, and whose deaf-mute granddaughter (Sarah Branch)
he is not taking hostage.
It all ends in a shootout on the rooftops
during which Martineau is gravely wounded and Starling almost falls to his
death - but ultimately he can be arrested - and sentenced to death in the
process, which leaves a lump in MArtineau's throat despite everything ...
crime thriller that effortlessly turns what is basically a rendition of
police routine into an extremely exciting plot. Add to that expert pacing,
flawless direction and a great cast and you've got something that's
nothing short of a masterpiece - even if the film to this day seems to be
by and large overlooked by fans and film historians alike who seem to
associate the production company Hammer during that period exclusicely
Director Val Guest's output obver the years has been
incredibly uneven but this is most probably his very best and the film he
should be remembered by. Recommended.