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Film Noir of the Week

Last Build Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2017 06:36:24 PST


Cash on Demand (1961)

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:20:45 PST

With the recent resurrection of Peter Cushing in Star Wars, I thought it'd be a good time to mention one of his earlier Hammer films this week, Cash on Demand.Like The Silent Partner, this is a Christmas-time noir taking place in a bank during a robbery. The plot is crackerjack.  A charming but ruthless crook (André Morell) abducts the wife and child of a bank manager (Cushing) and then masquerades as an insurance company detective while scheming to rob the institution in this crime drama. Unfortunately, some of the manager's employees learn about the plot and the terrified manager must beg them to remain silent.The story while clever isn't the only time a bank manager has had to deal with kidnapping in an attempt to rob a bank in movies.  Off the top of my head, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and The Friends of Eddie Coyle both use this as their means to rob banks.  I admit I'm a sucker for any movie that has a clever con or robbery.  The Big Caper, for example, is craptastic but the plot involving planting bombs around town to spread out police while hitting the actual target puts the otherwise lousy movie in my favorite b-movie list. Cash on Demand's con game was created by British television suspense writer Jacques "Jack" Gillies. Gillies wrote the story for a TV play a year before the film was made.The movie poster advertising the film in the US would have you think the film was filled with action and a sexy femme fatale.  It's not.  We -- the audience-- are only given views inside the bank with only occasional glimpses and phone calls from outside the business.  The golden rule of filmmaking is "show don't tell."  But this is just the opposite and it's riveting to witness.Produced by Hammer Films for a pittance (rumored budget was $50,000) during their horror heydays, this is a tense thriller with a standout performance by Cushing whose performance as a Scrooge-like boss that is trying to outsmart criminals while attempting to keep his family safe anchors the movie.  In one of his best roles, Cushing is straddled with playing an unlikeable guy, while the ruthless criminal is much more appealing.  Cushing manages to sway viewers to his side by the end.  It's a remarkable.As far as visuals, the film is handsome but unremarkable looking.  The opening shots of the empty bank with overly dramatic music is the most interesting visual.The classical soundtrack created by Wilfred Josephs is strong.  Morell and Richard Vernon (you'll remember him from Goldfinger) are fine in their roles, but the film sits securely on the thin shoulders of Peter Cushing. We've mentioned a number of Hammer crime films here at Noir of the Week in the past including Stolen Face and Bad Blonde.  But the best of the Hammer films would be this one and the noir-inspired but unfortunately generically titled Nightmare (1964). [...]

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