The Squeeze (1977) A Dirty Gritty London Thriller With A Drunk Ass Stacy Keach

He was an expert at standing up on moving subway trains as he swayed from side to side. His eyes half closed as the sound of sloshed, sozzled, synthesizers played inside his head. He had his very own theme tune going on. Jim Naboth (Stacy Keach) bobbed around waiting for the carriage doors to slide open. Heavy booze fumes radiated from his body. The musty aroma was laced with the smoke and ash of a box of 20 fags, and he may recall a cigar at some point during the night? He halved smiled. The stench helped to keep the commuters at bay as the waft freely spread itself about. It helped open a clear pathway for his impending mission. As the train suddenly braked to a stop at the station he gracefully bends almost in half before quickly steadied himself and stepping off onto the platform. His eyes went in many directions, however, he knew the way home. Of course, he had done this trip many times before. Last orders at the pub, get chucked out on the street, grab a bottle in the off-licence and then return home for a cheeky nightcap. Fag in mouth he tries to light it whilst moving diagonally but luckily with some form of forward motion.

Jim was not as good at walking straight on level ground? The motion of the train had gone, in some way, with the natural movement of his body. It kind of corrected his paralytic boozed up brain. Now the objective was to get home, and if that meant bouncing off every wall in this underground maze, then so be it. As long as he was going in the right direction. Onward towards that revolving stairs that stretched way up high. The synthesizers played on. Even in this ridiculously intoxicated state he knew this was the real challenging part. He just had to manoeuvre himself onto the escalator. But the blasted thing won’t stay still. Eventually, the impossible was achieved. Lifted into the air towards the light at the end of the tunnel. The way out. The bright light big city of London. Homeward bound! He stood up straight as he rose high to victory. Jim knew the taste of whisky that he held firm in his stained jacket pocket was soon coming. It propelled him. Just reaching the apex his eyes start to flicker. Total black out! He falls, hard against every single moving step of the escalator. The mythical amounts of alcohol possibly saved him as he became a rag doll in a potato sack. Beaten and bloodied he awoke on a stretcher being led to an ambulance. Is that sweet bottle of Vat 69 whisky still ok? He reaches out. No it was not!

Jim, was a ex cop, now a private investigator of sorts. Did he actually work? I doubt it. The problem with his mammoth drinking sessions was he had two young son’s at home. He used losing his job and his wife leaving him as an excuse for his drinking. Deep down he knew it all went wrong because of his drinking. He was an alcoholic and he knew it. Jim’s only had one friend, Teddy (Freddie Starr). Teddy dotted on Jim. Many years back when he was on the force, Jim had nicked Teddy, a petty criminal. Maybe because it helped him get back on the straight and narrow that he felt he owed Jim? Needless to say, he tried to keep him off the booze and acted like his own personal taxi driver. He still did a few dodgy deals here and there but mostly he was a kindhearted soul. The one thing that went against Teddy was he had no boundaries. He had no qualms about walking into Jim’s bedroom as he was busy funning his nurse friend. Just to see if he fancied a cup of tea and maybe a little chat!

Jim –It’s brandy. It’s medicinal.
Teddy –Bollocks!
Jim –Teddy, I’m a Scotch drinker – you know that. I just have the occasional brandy when I’m not drinking.

Jim was gonna need his wits about him when an angered man busts in through the door demanding to know the whereabouts of his wife and daughter. You see, this guy Foreman (Edward Fox) was now married to Jim’s ex-wife Jill (Carol White). Foreman worked as a bank security expect. It wouldn’t be long before the two receive notice that gangsters have kidnapped the pair. Demanding that Foreman gives information that would help secure a million pound ransom for their release. For Foreman to turn a blind eye as the robbery takes place. Then and only then would his wife and daughter be freed. Under no circumstances were the police to be involved. Jim wasn’t a cop anymore and he certainly didn’t play like one any more. Against Foreman’s instructions Jim would investigate but would he be any help in the state he was in?

Tagline – They’d bust your head just for the hell of it. So think what they’d do for a million!

Lets meet the rest of the cast…

Gangster number one is the Irish horse dealer Vic (Stephen Boyd). Vic keeps a low profile in the crime stakes but he pulls all the levers, all the strings and supplies the cash to run the job.

Leading the operations and controlling the crooks whilst keeping the heavies in-line is Keith (David Hemmings). He knows the right buttons to push to twist and manipulate. Jill and her daughter are holed up in a flat, watched over by Keith, Des (Stewart Harwood), Barry (Roy Marsden) and Vic’s right-hand man Taff (Alan Ford)

Can Jim sort his drinking problem out and stay out of the pub long enough to help with this hostage situation? More important? Can Jim keep his clothes on?

A Few Things…

  • The Squeeze is directed by Michael Apted who had a great varied career. From TV series to loads of film which also included a Bond movie in The World Is Not Enough (1999). However he might be very warmly remembered for the life documentary UP series. That started in 1964 called Seven Up! which followed 14 children all 7 years old and then revisited them every seven years after to find out how they were going. It did it nine times over 56 years. With the last one being 63 Up. Unfortunately Michael died this year in January but hopefully they will do 70 Up (2026) in his honour. It’s funny that it’s been there all my life and will always watch it to see how they getting on.
  • The film is based on a novel called Whose Little Girl Are You written by a Welsh novelist called Bill James going under the pseudonym of James Tucker.
  • The screenplay was adapted by Leon Griffiths who was the creator of the long running comedy drama Minder which starred George Cole as Arthur Daley and his bodyguard Terry McCann played by Dennis Waterman.
  • Composer and music producer David Hentschel who had a love for synthesizers brings the theme score. He gives Stacy his own drunken soundtrack that appears throughout the film. It’s shame but it looks like the OST was never released as an album.
  • Stacy Keach is awesome. I like so many of his films. He has such a brilliant presence to him. He’s also no stranger to massive booze sessions. I did a review for Fat City (1972) here, where he plays an alcoholic boxer.
  • This was sadly to be one of Stephen Boyd’s last films when he died of a heart attack at the age of 45. I reviewed a brilliant and quirky mystery film he starred in called The Third Secret (1964) here.
  • Carol White had a look of Julie Christie about her. She starred in director Ken Loach’s debut film Poor Cow (1967) alongside Terence Stamp. Carol was nicknamed the Battersea Bardot. She starred in a film with Peter Sellers playing nasty gangster in Never Let Go (1960) Sadly The Squeeze would be her penultimate film before she too died young.
  • The Squeeze is Alan Ford’s debut film role. He would go on to play this character, the cockney East End thug, hundreds of times. He’s probably best remembered for Guy Richie’s films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000).

Verdict…

We used to love tracking these British thrillers down when we were teenagers. Always on the lookout for “dirty gritty London films” what we called them. To be honest any of the hard-nosed British gangster movies. Like Mcvicar (1980), Scum (1979), The Long Good Friday (1980) Mona Lisa (1986) The Sweeney (1977) etc. The Squeeze was one we managed to rent. I reckon I only managed to see this one once. As where I’d remembered certain scenes, there was one character I was certain got two rounds of a shotgun in him. I waited but it never came. Stacy Keach made a good washed up Brit I thought.

Surprisingly within all the dark thriller centered around kidnapping, robbery and beatings there’s some really funny comic moments to be had. The above mentioned Teddy walking in the bedroom having a normal conversation with Jim whilst he’s in full action with his lady is a right hoot. Plus each time they walk past a boozer, Jim goes missing. One of the best comic scenes, which I found hilarious, featured our Jim being found by Teddy completely rat arsed. With an important part of the job to be done he has to be sobered up, quick. Which involves, new clothes and lashings of strong coffee and taking him off to a massage parlor to get cleaned up. Where a gorgeous black lady masseuse (Merdelle Jordine) goes to work on our Jim.

Masseuse –We do some lovely things here.
Jim –Really? Like what?
Masseuse –VIP. Topless. “Special Relief”.
Jim –“Special Relief” – now that sounds interesting. How much?
Masseuse –To you, darling, six quid.
Jim –Six quid? Cheaper to do it myself!

It’s a brilliant scene. As Jim goes in looking completely sozzled, beat up, out of his face drunk, hobo style and then exits clean shaven, fresh face, all prim and proper for the important job in hand. (No pun intended).

Thanks for reading my scribbles. Keep finding awesome movies and having fun. All the best… Mike Wolf

PS This Italian poster is also awesome.

18 thoughts on “The Squeeze (1977) A Dirty Gritty London Thriller With A Drunk Ass Stacy Keach

  1. Sounds like I need to get out my Sherlock cap and hunt this one down as I’ve yet to witness it. Man did Boyd age terribly. Makes me feel pretty good when I look in the mirror. Honestly when I saw you were spotlighting The Squeeze, I thought it was the Lee Van Cleef/Karen Black heist film from Antonio Margheriti released in 1978. One for you to hunt down maybe. Cheers’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Had not heard of the Lee Van Cleef one Mike. It does sound like a good adventure. Plus like with the 1977 one, they both going for a million dollar heist. I did come across a 1987 namesake with Michael Keaton squeeze bewteen the twin towers! Does sound a bit wack that one but hey it’s got Rae Dawn Chong so I’m sure I watch it all dreamy eyed.

      Hope you get a chance to see this dirty London one. Stacy Keach is fantastic. It’s a really good film.
      PS I know right! I was shocked to read he was 45! Look so much older!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s late at night, so I didn’t get the opportunity (like I do when I read these in the morning) to spew my coffee while guffawing at your opening paragraphs. “He became a rag doll in a potato sack.”
    LOL
    Thank you!
    Reading your description of him on the train was like being in the movie, and now I definitely want to see it. And the funny parts sound REALLY funny, like them passing bars or whatever and I imagine Teddy turning to Jim to say something, and there’s just a smoke outline where Jim used to be, lol!!
    Your opening reminded me of when I was living in NYC and I was on the train going somewhere one day and noticed a guy standing nearby, his eyes closed, gripping the pole, swaying with the train just like you described. He looked like he was SUPER drunk. And then my eye fell on the wad of cash sort of half sticking out of his pocket.
    I wanted to say something, to tap his arm and point the money out, but a story a friend of hubby’s had told us a few days earlier turned me into a reticent coward: the friend had been walking home one winter night, it was really cold, and she passed a man who was standing in a doorway motionlessly. He had icicles coming off him! She walked back and said, “Are you okay?” and he opened his eyes and SLAPPED HER in the face.
    Remembering that, I was fearful of the same happening to me and said nothing/did nothing to help the man.
    But upside to the story: when I told hubby later that night, he informed me that the guy was most likely an undercover cop “acting” drunk to lure thieves in. When I thought about it, it HAD seemed like just so obvious and in your face, you know, the “helpless” drunken man, the WADS of cash. He was probably right. But I still felt bad about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha hope you didn’t spew your nightcap instead of your coffee! That’s great to hear you liked that line. It did give me a little giggle when I wrote it. The poor guy certainly does take a tumble!
      Yes you so right, “a smoke outline where Jim used to be!” LOL It’s true. It definitely happens twice and what with the end, getting him back on his feet, sober, back on the straight and narrow scene. It’s surprising it’s still as gritty as it is.
      I know what you saying about the dilemma of helping out. In my early 20’s on NYE my friend and I waddled back home only to be confronted by a guy beating an older guy to mush on the street. We rushed in to help, fought the guy off and helped the old guy on the floor. Then all his family and friends rushed out the pub and started attacking us!! Luckily the old guy though blood, swollen lips and broken teeth managed to shout out it wasn’t us. After all those years I tend not to go out on a NYE anymore. It was a horrifying scene.
      Your husband could very well be right there Stacey. It certainly could of been a sting of sorts. You gotta think it’s entrapment of sorts. The temptation could catch the most innocent of people. I wonder if there was a mouse trap on the end of the notes! SNAP! LOL

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yeah, he grew up in Brooklyn and apparently this was a common tactic which he witnessed many times. He’s probably right, but still, the family attacking you, our friend getting slapped: one has to go way beyond concern and bravery, it seems. Although I have no doubt Stacy Keach would have rushed right in in both situations !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great review of an unappreciated thriller! Love Stacey Keach — what a wonderful actor!

    Glad you mentioned Never Let Go (1960) (a favorite of mine) and The Third Secret (1964) (the ending was great!).

    If you liked The Squeeze (1977), I’ll recommend you to watch The Black Windmill (1974).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My first thought when I saw the title: hey, The Squeeze, that ’80s movie about the pink goop that turns everyone into zombies…oh wait, that’s The Stuff. Never mind.

    But this one sounds good…”not for the squeamish.” A rogue sorta-bad guy going after the bad guys…right up my alley! Now, if I can ever find time to watch it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dab-nab-it Todd soooooorrrrry for the late replies!
      I’m pretty sure you will really enjoy The Squeeze mate. It’s got that gritty London sleaze written all over it and Stacey Keach pulls of the Brit piss head well. It’s got a perfect mix of tough and dark humour. Hope you like it if you do find the time. Mate I do know exactly how you feel.

      Liked by 1 person

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