West 11 (1963) Poster

(1963)

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8/10
Where Trustafarians Roam...................
ianlouisiana6 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
For many years now scions of the rich have vicariously lived a glib and cushioned version of street life cheek by jowl with those who walk the walk as well as talking the talk.In those far - off days of the early 1960s Notting Hill - unrecognisable to dear,dear Hugh and Julia - was a far more gloomy and grimy district,prime bedsit territory with landlords like the much - feared and detested Peter Rachman terrorising their unfortunate tenants.This is the world explored by Mr M.Winner's cruelly neglected "West 11". It is usually forgotten by all except its proponents when British neo - realist cinema of the era is discussed.This is an injustice,for,in my opinion,it deserves to be considered in the same breath as the better - known works of Richardson,Sleschinger,Anderson et al. Although entitled to claim membership of the Oxbridge Mafia,Mr Winner has ploughed a lonely furrow,a true maverick of the British cinema. In "West 11" we have an early expiation of his favourite theme of urban alienation and the loss of purpose and sense of individualism in city life.Mr A.Lynch plays a basically decent young man drifting from job to job aimlessly.Desperately short of money he accepts a commission from conman Mr E.Portman to murder his wealthy aunt.He finds himself unable to carry out his task,but the old lady is killed falling down the stairs and he runs off leaving behind his portable chess set which fatally links him to her death.That,shorn of frippery,is the basis of the movie. But the meat is in the detail.Mr F.Currie gives his best performance since "Great Expectations" as Mr Lynch's lonely elderly neighbour, the oft - abused Miss D.Dors is excellent as a proud estranged parent who is hanging out with young people in a sad effort to hold off middle age. Cruelly referred to in the sixties as "forgotten but not gone",she belied that phrase many times in the later stages if her career and is now remembered as an actress of considerable talent. Marvellously photographed by Mr O.Heller,the movie depicts a Notting Hill far less neighbourly than that of its contemporary "The L - shaped room".Here,spite,petty jealousies and malice are abroad. With this and the also woefully neglected "I'll never forget whats 'is name" Mr Winner presents us with an accurate and sharply drawn picture of life in the capital as Britain recovered from its post - war depression.Unfortunately his subsequent reputation as a maker of exploitative and bizarre movies has distracted us from his obvious love and concern for humanity and his passion for making films.
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6/10
Smoothly made little Brit-pic
ianbrown657 January 2016
A minor but very smoothly made example of British film noir. Director Michael Winner, then at the start of his career, had a strong cast (Alfred Lynch, Eric Portman, Diana Dors, Finlay Currie, et al) to inhabit this starkly photographed little crime melodrama set in London bedsit-land, all tacky Notting Hill coffee bars and smoky jazz clubs.

Lynch makes a downbeat but sympathetic protagonist, more thoughtful than the usual type of hero. Portman plays the clipped-moustache ex-military man-turned-swindler to perfection. Dors is just right, too, as a blousy divorcée ("Young enough to still want a husband; old enough not get the one I want").

Winner plays up the salacious sex element a bit, but a tight Keith Waterhouse/Willis Hall script touches on Lynch's Catholic guilt, and Currie's existential search for 'truth', just enough to give the story a modicum of depth. There's also an evocative score by Stanley Black, with Acker Bilk on sax.

Until latterly a neglected, even scorned, cinema sub-genre, these usually low-budget British film noirs, often superbly photographed, were violent by the standards of their day, and showed the rain-washed streets of cities like Newcastle (Payroll), Manchester (Hell Is a City) and Brighton (Jigsaw), as well as London, could be pretty mean, too.

Winner's next film, The System with Oliver Reed, was even better.
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6/10
Better than its reputation might suggest.
MOscarbradley16 October 2016
This low-key British kitchen-sink movie is much better than it's lukewarm reputation might suggest. It's no masterpiece and it's certainly no "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" or "A Taste of Honey" but it's far from negligible and is worth seeing. It was directed by Michael Winner at a time when he actually made good films and stars the underrated Alfred Lynch as a feckless young man roped into a murder plot by Eric Portman's slimy and possibly bogus ex-army officer. Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall wrote the above average screenplay and it's superbly shot in its Notting Hill locations by Otto Heller. Others in a fine supporting cast include Diana Dors, Kathleen Harrison and Finlay Currie.
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8/10
London life before it started swinging
jfryleach5 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Caught this British Kitchen Noir on the excellent UK film channel Talking Pictures recently - A visual time capsule of young hedonistic London life in the early 60s, Party for tonight and to hell with the hangover and consequences in the morning. Glossy on the outside grim and desperate on the inside in this story. The talent behind the production certainly capture the 1960s grotty bedsit dwellers existence perfectly with excellent cinematography, a sultry jazzy score courtesy of Stanley Black and efficient direction from the soon to be admired/despised directed Michael Winner. Alfred Lynch puts in a good performance as the protagonist in this tale of a man trying to live up to the expectations of the women in his life, walking out of his job, hoping something more exciting will fall his way, unfortunately all that is waiting for him are a shady character with promises of easy money with just one catch - Murder ! Not top drawer Brit Grit, but involving storytelling evoking an era of London Life that was reality for many people.
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5/10
Rather strange
malcolmgsw29 May 2019
With writers who were at the heart of the British new wave and set in a run down Notting Gill,as it was,I was expecting a touch of social realism.However what we get is a film that after much coveting of an X certificate,tends to go into lurid melodrama in the last third.However it was good to see Kathleen Harrison and Frieda Jackson,Finlay Currie and of course Diana Dors.A cast to cherish even if the film is not
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5/10
Atmospheric but not compulsive viewing.
g-hbe31 March 2019
Maybe it's because I don't much like Alfred Lynch or Michael Winner films generally, but this film dragged terribly. For me, it was only worth watching for the end credit music played beautifully by Mr Acker Bilk, a haunting piece somewhat reminiscent of Bilk's own 'Bitter Harvest' theme. There were some great 'kitchen sink' films made in Britain in the late 50's and early 60's, but this doesn't make the grade.
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3/10
A big load of nothing.
alexanderdavies-9938210 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I don't know why anyone would give this film the time of day. It has virtually nothing in its favour and an effective cast quickly goes to waste. I'm a bit surprised that writers like Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse couldn't have produced a stronger narrative. "West 11" merely stumbles about from one scene to the next, with little continuity. A few characters are completely irrelevant to the story, so why bother having them in the first place? Michael Winner was never a good director in my opinion, more like an average, ordinary hack. Whenever he tried to make something remotely trendy or thought-provoking (like with the above film), Winner is all out at sea! The film may be well photographed - which it is to be fair - but that can't compensate for a weak plot. After all, Alfred Lynch is supposedly persuaded into committing the so-called perfect crime by Eric Portman. The only problem is, this doesn't happen until over an hour of the film has elapsed. So in the meantime, Lynch's character wonders aimlessly around London and drags the audience along with him. The only scenes I feel that work, are the ones Alfred Lynch has with his on-screen mother (well played by Kathleen Harrison). Alas, it doesn't last. Diana Dors was quite watchable, even though she wasn't that important to the story. The producer of "West 11" didn't a good judge of acting potential or those with box office appeal. He had the nerve to turn down different people for the leading role because he felt they were only good enough for "B" films?? Who the hell was he trying to kid? This particular film is just that - a low budget production that not many care about. Alfred Lynch is a very capable leading man and should have been used more in that capacity. It's a pity he's not very well remembered today. I would avoid this tedious mess of a film for all its worth....
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