Val Guest (director)
Network on Air (studio)
82 min (length)
12 July 2021 (released)
13 July 2021
This 1956 thriller is yet another example of a movie that makes full use of London's many bomb sites resulting from WW2 (brilliant playground's for the kids though) and in this case a little boy discovers a handgun stuck in a piece of concrete – a discovery that has unforeseen consequences.
Young schoolboy Erik (innocent-faced Jon Whiteley) is out playing hide and seek with his mates on a huge bombsite (now the monstrous Barbican Centre - a living testament to the ‘brilliance’ of 1960's architecture) when he finds a gun lodged in a block of cement whilst hiding in a tunnel-like entrance. One of the other boys wants the gun and attempts to take it from Erik and in the ensuing struggle the gun goes off! Of course, poor little chap Erik had no idea the gun was loaded. Thinking he's killed the other boy he scarpers. When the police surgeon extracts the bullet from the wounded boy it appears to have been fired by the same gun that was used to shoot an American G.I. some ten years before… We now have the little lad on the ‘Missing Persons’ list (his mug all over the papers 'Have you seen this boy?') displayed all over London: queue for a number of location shots, and the police not only need to find Erik but the gun as well.
Enter Joshua Henry (George Cole still sporting his ‘Flash Harry’ moustache) who informs Superintendent Mackenzie (Herbert Marshall) and Erik's worried widowed American mother Elsa Jenner (Lizabeth Scott) that he'd seen Erik that morning stealing a pint of milk from his doorstep. When the police arrive at his flat for further questioning Joshua quickly removes the pint of milk on his kitchen shelf and puts it in a bin, thus straightaway we know who the villain is! American army man Captain Mark Andrews (Steve Cochran) is called in from a U.S. base to help with the investigation.
Meanwhile, slimy and apparently rather well off rat Joshua starts wooing Elsa in order to get to Erik and the incriminating gun, even ‘employing’ some of Erik’s schoolmates in his efforts to find the boy – paying them a penny each, the stingy bastard. However we have the upstanding Captain Andrews who's managed to trace a lead in nightclub hostess/prostitute Vivienne (French actress Nicole Maurey) who informs him (with regards to her humiliating job) “I am dead”. Something no one should say and she shouldn’t have said it either…
Despite the occasional downs the film ends on a high with Andrews in hot pursuit of the dastardly Joshua and it all builds up to a no holds barred climax.
This film has much in common with 'The Yellow Balloon' and to an extent 'Hue and Cry' but is not quite on their level. Nevertheless it still has its merits. B-movie actor Steve Cochran is not unconvincing whereas US-Film Noir queen Lizabeth Scott is wasted in an unrewarding role. Little John Whitely had been 'on the run' a few years before with Dirk Bogarde in ‘Hunted’ and is a very credible Erik while Herbert Marshall is far too grand to be a Superintendent (a diplomat perhaps). But! George Cole (Alistair Sim's protegé), usually known for light comedy roles, is by far the best thing on offer here - playing a real slimy baddy driving his smart little sports car and enticing poor old Elsa with his caviar. Not exactly a classic but nicely handled and one for fans of ‘Arthur Daley’ in his younger days. Competently directed by one of the most prolific directors in the business: Val Guest.
THE WEAPON is released in a brand-new HD remaster plus Bonus Material.