The Criminal
The Criminal film poster.png
Directed byJoseph Losey
Screenplay byAlun Owen
Produced byNat Cohen
StarringStanley Baker
Sam Wanamaker
Grégoire Aslan
Margit Saad
CinematographyRobert Krasker
Edited byReginald Mills
Music byJohn Dankworth
Production
company
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated (UK)
Release date
  • October 28, 1960 (1960-10-28)
(London)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The Criminal is a 1960 British neo-noir crime film produced by Nat Cohen and directed by Joseph Losey, starring Stanley Baker, Sam Wanamaker, Grégoire Aslan, and Margit Saad. Alun Owen wrote the screenplay, from a story by an uncredited Jimmy Sangster.

The film depicts a harsh and violent portrayal of prison life that led to the film being banned in several countries, including Finland.

It was released in the United States as The Concrete Jungle.

Plot

Bannion (Baker) is a career criminal with an entourage of minor criminals and fast girls. He plans a robbery at a racetrack and gets £40,000 - but in reality this is another crook's money. Word is spread of his responsibility and he is sent to prison, where he is a well known figure.

In prison the Italian boss Frank Saffron takes him under his wing and secures a move to a different block through claiming to be a Roman Catholic. He tells him the outside world wants their £40,000 back, but is prepared to give favours if he gets a cut. They make their plans whispering to each other during Sunday mass.

When one of the weaker inmates is planted with a blade and falls to his death in a scuffle with the guards, this triggers a prison riot. The other prison boss O'Hara is less sympathetic to Bannion. During the riot Bannion opens the door to let the guards back in and wins favour of the prison governor. He is transferred to a low security prison for his assistance but his booed by fellow inmates as he leaves.

During the transfer, it is revealed that Bannion paid £40,000 for the riot and a "fast car". The car appears and drives the prison van off the road, rescuing Bannion. However, he has been double crossed. He is taken to a narrow boat where the criminals he robbed are waiting, also with his girlfriend as security.

They flee, but Bannion is hit by a bullet as they escape. They reach a snowy field where Johnny shoots one of his three pursuers before being shot himself. He dies before being able to say where the money is.

Cast

Production

Joseph Losey said he was handed a ready-made script. "It was a concoction of all the prison films Hollywood ever made", he said. "Both Stanley Baker and I refused to work until they let us write our own script. Which is what we did."[1] He says the producers wanted a sequence where the criminals rob a race track but he felt that had been done in The Killing (1956) so he filmed it taking place off screen.

The theme is sung by Cleo Laine.

Reception

According to Losey the film was a commercial success. He said the film was banned in Ireland because so many of the prisoners were Irish Catholics.[1]

The film was reportedly very successful in Paris.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b "FILM CRAFT: Joseph Losey talks to Peter Lennon". The Guardian. London. 9 July 1962. p. 5.
  2. ^ EUGENE ARCHER (15 March 1964). "EXPATRIATE RETRACES HIS STEPS: Joseph Losey Changes Direction With His British 'Servant'". New York Times. p. X9.