7.0/10
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18 user 11 critic

Concrete Jungle (1960)

The Criminal (original title)
In UK, after pulling a racetrack robbery, repeat offender Johnny Bannion hides the loot in a farmer's field but the police and the local mob come looking for Johnny and for the money.

Director:

Joseph Losey

Writer:

Alun Owen (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stanley Baker ... Johnny Bannion
Sam Wanamaker ... Mike Carter
Grégoire Aslan ... Frank Saffron
Margit Saad ... Suzanne
Jill Bennett ... Maggie
Rupert Davies ... Edwards
Laurence Naismith ... Mr. Town
John Van Eyssen John Van Eyssen ... Formby
Noel Willman ... Prison Governor
Derek Francis Derek Francis ... Priest
Redmond Phillips ... Prison Doctor
Kenneth J. Warren Kenneth J. Warren ... Clobber (as Kenneth Warren)
Patrick Magee ... Barrows
Robert Adams Robert Adams ... Judas
Kenneth Cope ... Kelly
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Storyline

An ex-con who's taken part in the robbery of a racetrack is caught and sent back to prison, but he won't tell his fellow gang members where he's stashed the loot. The gang kidnaps his girlfriend and has him tortured in prison in an effort to find out where the money is. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

loot | robbery | racetrack | prison | heist | See All (20) »

Taglines:

The toughest picture ever made in Britain!

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 March 1961 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Concrete Jungle See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Merton Park Studios See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Directed by Joseph Losey and starring Sam Wannamaker, both of whom had relocated to the UK, after being blacklisted from Hollywood. by Senator Joseph McCarthy's House UnAmerican Activities Committee. See more »

Goofs

After Johnny kicks the partygoers out of his apartment, he starts to run a bath then gets out a sun ray lamp, lies on his bed and is about to switch the lamp on when he discovers Suzanne in the bed. There is no scene showing him turning the bath taps off or showing the bath overflowing. See more »

Alternate Versions

Anchor Bay's DVD, whilst otherwise uncut, does not include the melancholy end credit sequence, played over shots of circles of prisoners in the exercise yard. See more »

Connections

Featured in Oil City Confidential (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Dance of the Cuckoos
(uncredited)
Music by Marvin Hatley
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack!
12 December 2012 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

The Criminal (AKA: The Concrete Jungle) is directed by Joseph Losey and written by Alun Owen. It stars Stanley Baker, Sam Wanamaker, Margrit Saad, Patrick Magee, Grégoire Aslan, Rupert Davies and Laurence Naismith. Music is by John Dankworth and cinematography by Robert Krasker.

Johnny Bannion (Baker) is an ex-con who's taken part in the robbery of a racetrack but is caught and sent back to prison; but not before he has time to bury the cash from the gig. Back in prison Johnny is keeping the cards close to his chest but finds there are big crime forces wanting a piece of his action. With plans afoot to "twist" his arm, and his girlfriend kidnapped, Johnny knows something is going to have to give...

All my sadness and all my joy, comes from loving a thieving boy.

Once tagged as being "The toughest picture ever made in Britain", The Criminal obviously seems tame by today's increasingly over the top standards. Yet it still packs quite a punch and shows the very best of Messrs Losey, Baker and Krasker.

In some ways it's a strange film, the pace is purposely slow and the narrative is bolstered by bouts of hang wringing tension, where periods of calm come laced with a grim oppressive atmosphere, but there's often electricity bristling in the air when Bannion (Baker is magnetic and brilliant as he apparently models the character on Albert Dimes) is holding court. Even when on the outside and feeling the love of a good woman, Bannion exudes a loner like danger, he's tough but being a hard bastard can't break him free from the shackles of his life. We know it and you sense that he himself knows it, and it gives the film an exciting edge not befitting the downbeat tone of the story. Characters here have not been delivered from happy land, you will struggle to find someone here who isn't nasty of heart, bad in the head or simply foolish. Inside this concrete jungle it's a multi cultural hive of emotional disintegration, and at the core stirring the honey pot is one Johnny Bannion. The film makers here are all about pessimism, self-destruction and the battle against the system and the underworld, right up to (and including) a finale fit to grace the best noirs of the 40s.

Losey and Krasker ensure the prison sequences are stifling, the walls close in, the bars and netting are unsettling and close ups of the odd ball assortment of crims and warders strike an incarcerated chord, visually it's an impressive piece of noirish film. But it's not just about shadows and filtered light, the director has skills aplenty with his camera. A kaleidoscope shot has a delightfully off kilter kink to it, while his overhead filming and pull away crane usage for the frosty cold finale is as memorable as it is skillful in selection. Musically the pic begins and ends with the soulful warbling of Cleo Laine, the tune is a Prison Ballad (Thieving Boy), and it's tonally perfect, while Dankworth and his orchestra provide jazz shards that thrust in and out of the story like knowing accomplices to fate unfolding. Set design is superb, especially for the recreation of a Victorian prison which is impressive and makes it easy to not lament an actual prison location used, while the supporting actors are very strong, particularly Magee (Zulu) who excels doing sneaky menace as Warder Barrows.

Flaws? Not any if you don't actually expect the toughest film made in Britain back in the day (though it was banned in some countries!). I do wonder why Baker had to be an Irish character and not just be Welsh and therefore do his natural Welsh accent? And if we are are being over critical we could suggest there are some prison stereotypes that even by 1960 were looking frayed around the edges. But ultimately this is tough stuff, a gritty and moody piece of cinema with class on either side of the camera. 8/10


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