Today: February 21, 2024

Nowhere To Go

Ealing Studios are of course best known for their hilarious comedies, filled with zany antics and British camaraderie, standing firmly amongst the greats as some of the best.

Studios are of course best known for their hilarious comedies, filled with zany
antics and British camaraderie, standing firmly amongst the greats as some of
the best.
With Nowhere to
Go, Ealing turn their back on what they know best, dipping their toe in the
dark pool of the film noir with relative ease. Re-mastered for DVD, we get the chance to enjoy the full 100
minute version of the film, previously cut short by distributor MGM on its
original release to snugly fit in a double bill.

The film kicks off with Canadian professional con man and thief
Paul Gregory (George Nader) busting
out of prison, a sequence shot fluently in almost complete silence with the odd
flicker of ambient sound. The
story then takes a turn in to flashback outlining how Gregory came to be
there. Heading to London, Gregory
decides to con gullible widow Harriet Jefferson (silent film
star Bessie Love), slowly gaining
her trust with compliments and long, friendly lunches and eventually making off
with her valuable coin collection.
Fully aware of the repercussions of his actions, he hides his ill-gotten
gains and prepares to collect them on release from a short-term prison
sentence. Escaping prison early
after misjudging the length of his sentence and assisted by partner in crime
Victor Sloane (Bernard Lee), Gregory
hides out in a small apartment until he can cash in the coins and run. It is here he inadvertently comes
across Bridget Howard (a very young Maggie
). When Gregory is double-crossed
by those he trusts, he becomes entangled in a web of betrayal and danger and so
is forced to go on the run and rely on relative stranger, Bridget.

Similar in form and theme to American noir’s like Asphalt Jungle, Nowhere to Go is often
described as ‘the least ‘Ealing’ Ealing film ever made.’ It is a stylish film noir, following in
the footsteps of other gritty British thrillers like The Third Man and Brighton
and leading on to the likes of Hell
is a City
. Written by director
Seth Holt alongside film critic Kenneth Tynan, the story can be
confused at times, with a series of contrivances and unlikely occurrences but
it is sharp and intelligent with the action never ceasing or dying down. Paul
’s cinematography is flawless and creative, with looming angled shots
and gripping close-ups. The deep,
dark shadows of the film noir are prevalent, providing the ideal setting for
the criminal world and a man on the run and backed up by a fitting, tension
building jazz score by Dizzy Reece. The cast of the film have been almost perfectly
selected. Having not starred in
anything particularly notable previously, Nader slips in to the character of Gregory
with ease giving a polished, believable performance. Not your typical 1950s Hollywood starlet, a fresh-faced Maggie
Smith is interesting and appealing in her film debut role, a performance which
earned her a nomination for Most Promising Newcomer at the BAFTAs.

An interesting move for Ealing, Nowhere to Go is an artistic
and entertaining thriller. It is not
quite exciting and captivating enough to become one of the greats but as a stylish and
gritty film noir in its own right, it is a shame it has been overlooked up
until now.

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