Here’s my review of The Frightened City (1961)
It was dark but the London city lights of store fronts, clubs, peepshows, casinos and seedy looking bars lit-up the streets as people mingled through the artificial neon glare. Blue flashing lights and the wailing sound of sirens bounced around the buildings as the police car tried to speed through the traffic. A few blocks down a basement nightclub was being smashed and terrorised along with it’s unlucky owner. Gut punches slammed and ruptured his spleen. Blood gushed down his chin from a hefty backhander across the face. He tried picking himself up from the broken chairs he’d been launched into by the mob bosses two brutish henchmen. These two thugs were really enjoying themselves. The boss was angry. He was busy channeling his brute force onto every fixture and fitting in the small club. Windows, lamps and glasses smashed to tiny shards. His rage made sure every liquor bottle met the same fate. Turning his attention to the beaten man, you could tell in his eyes, he wasn’t quite done with dishing out his punishment. A verbal word of warning before a right hook sucker punch turned the bruised mans lights out. Minutes later, through pained dazed focus, he slowly regained consciousness. The foreboding outline of the gangsters were gone, now replaced by two other figures. In the door way stood two Scotland Yard detectives. “Who did this?” “Just give us a name.” “We can’t press charges if you don’t!” Of course this business owners life was more important than being a snitch.
Tagline – A city terrorised by its own evil!
This was 60s London and the Detroit style protection racket was in full flow. Gangs realised that with a little gentle persuasion, rough someone up, break a few windows, scare off a few customers etc, they could charge a business an insurance policy. One that would mean they’d back off for the price of a weekly fee. If you didn’t pay, well the above scenario at the unfortunate club would be your punishment. Customers wouldn’t return, your business would fail and possibly even your lose your life. It was a good little earner for the gangs. Trouble was they were all in fighting for different territories. Crossing over into each others patches resulted in gang warfare. A constant tide of bloodshed, bruises and bones broken by brass knuckles, billy clubs and baseball bats.
Detective Inspector Sayers (John Gregson) – “The criminal mind is like the dark side of the moon!“
Waldo Zhernikov (Herbert Lom) was a financial investor with a cunning mind for business and growing wealth. He could envision a perfect opportunity arise in this situation. He was friends with a mediator Harry Foulcher (Alfred Marks), a wiseguy club owner with ties to all the gang bosses of the City. Waldo discusses a plan with Harry, to join all the gangs together to create a City wide protection racket. An organisation so large and a foolproof plan that millions would be squeezed out of every business. With each mob boss connected within the organisation the police wouldn’t stand a chance of breaking up a racket so large. Waldo knew they would need a commander to keep the gangs away from each other throats. The ideal man could be the rugged Irish robber Paddy Damion (Sean Connery). A tough brawler with added charisma and a sensible head on his shoulders. He could read a room and access the reasonable amount of force needed. Paddy was headstrong and extremely loyal to his partner in crime Wally (Kenneth Griffith). They were both cat burglars, petty thieves, a duo joined at the hip. Problem was Wally had fallen on a job, broken his back and now out of action. Paddy felt responsible. They needed money. To add to the woes, Paddy had an eye for the ladies, not just any lady but a gangster’s girl! The beautiful Anya (Yvonne Romain) with damn killer curves in all the right places. Paddy was going to need wits to be constantly on high alert.
Tagline – The crossfire of gangland terror turns THE FRIGHTENED CITY into a mob jungle!
The Frightened City is an excellent neo-noir British gangster movie which I found very entertaining. I’m a sucker for admiring vintage scenes of London and I do like a good gangster thriller. Sean Connery really shines and must of impressed certain casting agents for the little upcoming Ian Fleming novel character who has a licence to kill, the one and only James Bond. Sean would star in Dr No (1962) only a year later. The Frightened City was directed by John Lemont who might be remembered for his B Movie monster King Kong rip-off Konga (1961). He also made a crime thriller I’m intrigued to see called The Shakedown (1960) which stars the gorgeous Hazel Court. The Frightened City might not be as good as the fantastic Hell Is A City (1960) from director Val Guest and starring Stanley Baker. However, it would sit very nicely in a double bill alongside it. Well worth a look if you like gangster movies.
“I did it!” I got a review done. Sorry for my slackness of late. Life stuff just gets in the way of the fun stuff.
Thanks for popping in for a read. Let me know if you’ve seen this one, or feel free to recommend similar style movies if you wish. All the best…. Mikey Wolf