Guy Hamilton (director)
Network on Air (studio)
20 April 2020 (released)
20 April 2020
This never less than interesting b/w film is based on the novel ‘The Line on Ginger’ by author Robin Maugham, who also co-scripted this drama from 1953. Maugham, who was an ordinary trooper in the 4th County of London Yeoman Tank Regiment, was a bit of a hero having rescued a number of men from blazing tanks. We detect a similar scenario in the film.
Former Army Colonel and now stockbroker Wolf Merton (the ever solid and always dependable Jack Hawkins) returns home to his Belgravia flat one night after a game of golf… only to be greeted by an intruder about to burgle him. Talk about a coincidence: the burglar turns out to be a former soldier he knew only too well some years ago: Ginger Edwards (Michael Medwin) was hailed 'a bloody hero' during WW2 and no mistake! What on earth has driven this man to sink to such an abysmal level? Merton has no intention of turning Ginger over to the police and instead wants to know what has brought about such drastic changes in his personality. Here we recognize the old story: It's alright for the likes of privileged types like Merton but it's nearly always a different story for Joe Soap (or Ginger Edwards in this case) for even today we still see a multitude of ex-serviceman begging on the streets.
Suddenly the doorbell rings and Ginger suspects that his old C.O. has called the police. Nothing of the sort however, it's just his old golfing partner Tim (Hugh Williams) returning to take him to their Club. Ginger jumps out of the window and does a proverbial runner. Merton is not going to leave it at that and decides to go out looking for Ginger. This shouldn't be too difficult for it emerges that Ginger has just broken out of prison where he was supposed to serve a hefty sentence for manslaughter. All Merton has to do is track down the other chaps from the old regiment, some of whom were friends of Ginger's in the war – well, the working-class ones anyway. From this Merton is able to piece together the dreadful train of events that befell poor old Ginger on the day he was demobbed. Merton isn't far off the mark as the first person he visits is John Summers (George Cole) who was Ginger's best pal. John is now a Covent Garden fruit and veg trader and it doesn't take Merton too long to twig that John has him in hiding… but not before Ginger escapes yet again.
Maugham makes some interesting points here as Merton had been responsible for getting Summers a commission; but as an ill-educated member of the lower classes he is seen to be pitifully 'out of place' at the officers table. Merton, as you will have realized, might be privileged but he is also a democrat (what a wonderful PM he would have made) As Merton visits each member of his old regiment and learns of their experiences with Ginger (via flashback) he discovers the entire sad story and eventually tracks Ginger down to a remote farm run by another confederate, Donald Cope (Duncan Lamont), leading up to the climax.
We have some nice performances in this still resonating piece from writer Maugham (perhaps best known for his novella 'The Servant' – later also adapted for the big screen). Jack Hawkins and Michael Medwin as previously mentioned. Also we have on board Dennis Price, here cast as former officer and all round disdainful human being Leonard Pirry. It goes without saying that he’s also a contemptible coward and the ultimate snide who has done extremely well for himself after the war, naturally. And Edward Chapman (before his Mr. Grimsdale days as Norman Wisdom's stooge) has a relatively short but important appearance as Ginger's nasty old uncle. Francis Chagrin supplies the score (which comes across as overtly dramatic at times) and director Guy Hamilton (these days best known as the director of four James Bond films) handles the material with suitable élan.
Newly restored and available both on DVD and Blu-ray, THE INTRUDER contains Image Gallery and Original Theatrical Trailer as bonus material.