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Thursday, April 16, 2015

THE WEAPON (1956)

When a ballistic report for a recent accidental shooting surreptitiously solves a Cold Case left over from the war, there’s still one problem for Scotland Yard: the gun is on the lam! Held by the young lad who found it in a ruined building, then tussled with his pal over it, shooting him accidentally. (The victim’s doing fine, but the boy on the run thinks he’s a murderer.) Hiding out all over London town, he’s wanted by the police; by an American army sergeant; by his mom; and by the guy who hid the gun a decade ago. Even the boy’s playmates get in the act as amateur detectives . . . paid by the bad guy. Director Val Guest & lenser Reg Wyer get a lot out of their downscale London locations, especially when forced to maneuver action scenes in tight spaces. (Had they seen Elia Kazan’s New Orleans set PANIC IN THE STREETS/’50?) But the combination of easy coincidences to keep the plot moving; underutilized storylines (those kiddie detectives are barely used, and a brief romance with a nightclub hostess is painfully underwritten/unmotivated); most of all, dreary perfs from a cast that includes Hollywood ringers Steve Cochran & Lizabeth Scott. (The kid’s damn good, though.*) It’s one of those little films where they’ve got all the ingredients, but forget to light the stove.

DOUBLE-BILL: *’The kid’ is young Jon Whiteley who started & ended his brief film career with Dirk Bogarde in THE STRANGER IN BETWEEN/’52 (not seen here) and the odd, emotional THE SPANISH GARDENER/’56 where Bogarde’s surrogate dad comes up against Michael Hordern (in a fascinating perf) as a painfully distant real father.

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