Never Let Go (1960)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Jun 7, 1960 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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John Guillerman's overlooked film is a great pulpy British noir. Alun Falconer's dialogue is crisp and brutal, the camera angles and lighting by cinematographer Christopher Challis are as severe as anything shot by John Alton, and the narrative tensions are adequately frayed by the squealing horns of John Barry's big jazz score. Its macho pessimism approaches camp, but just enough to give the movie a healthy dose of self-aware amusement, never to undermine the story told. Peter Sellers exploits his comedic remove to make Meadows a terrifying offbeat villain, lending an ironic sneer to the calm-before-the-storm veneer that proceeds his character's violent outbursts. Besides being a rare dramatic turn for the actor, it's also one of the few performances where Sellers fits in and plays off the cast, instead of standing apart as an attention-grabbing star. The cast is uniformly strong, particularly Elizabeth Sellars as Cummings' loving but frustrated wife, Anne. The film is essentially a nasty riff on capitalism, with two temperamentally opposite, but similarly desperate men fighting to assert their manhood in a ruthless sink-or-swim urban environment. Upon release, the film gained some notoriety for its violence, primarily for Meadows' abusive treatment of Jackie and a scene where he crushes Tommy's hand in a record cabinet, and was banned in Finland.