The Challenge
Directed byJohn Gilling
Written byJohn Gilling
Produced byJohn Temple-Smith
StarringJayne Mansfield and Anthony Quayle
CinematographyGordon Dines
Edited byAlan Osbiston and John Victor-Smith
Music byBill McGuffie
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 17 May 1960 (1960-05-17)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Challenge, released as It Takes a Thief in the United States, is a 1960 British neo noir crime film directed by John Gilling and starring Jayne Mansfield and Anthony Quayle.[1]


Billy Lacross is a ruthless gang leader who persuades Jim Maxton to take part in a big robbery. Maxton is shopped and convicted of the robbery. He serves his time, and returns home to his son. The gang want the money he buried but Maxton wants nothing more to do with it or them. The gang then kidnap Maxton's son and demand the money as ransom. There follows a race against time to save Maxton's son.



The film was shot in England from 12 October to around December 1959. Mansfield flew back to America on the 16th, after she finished filming.[citation needed]

Critical reception

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "This British excursion into violent crime owes something to an old Edward G. Robinson film, The Last Gangster [1937], but still makes very little impact. There are few thrills, and those of a mostly unpleasant nature, and the pace is sluggish and erratic. Admittedly the sight of Jayne Mansfield as the brains of a gang of thieves, doing the books by day in horn-rims and a black wig, slinking about in sequins by night and entertaining her guests with little songs, provides at least one good laugh. Otherwise the plot is a routine matter of assault and battery, police bafflement and small child appeal, its detail loosely contrived with some careless railway observation and no satisfactory explanation why the gang made a "fall guy" out of Jim."[2]

TV Guide wrote, "most of the actors, with the exception of Quayle, are pretty stiff, and the story is hardly inspired."[3]

Sky Movies noted, "filled with such familiar leading men of British 'B' features as Peter Reynolds, Edward Judd, Dermot Walsh and Patrick Holt. Some of the best moments, though, are provided by Hollywood's Jayne Mansfield as the criminal mastermind, demure in black wig and horn-rimmed glasses as she does her 'firm's' books by day, but slinking around in sequins by night with a smile and a song."[4]


  1. ^ "The Challenge". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 30 December 2023.
  2. ^ "The Challenge". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 27 (312): 97. 1 January 1960 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ "It Takes A Thief Review". Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  4. ^ "The Challenge - Sky Movies HD". 14 May 2003. Retrieved 11 April 2014.