Wednesday, 23 December 2009


The term "film noir" is bandied about a lot these days and nonchalantly applied to, it seems, almost any crime film made in black and white before 1960 . Although the term had its origins in France it is essentially an American phenomenon its roots being traceable back to European origins. These days we can identify films as "post noir" or "neo noir" - films which conform to noirish conventions without actually becoming a pastiche of the genre - I'm thinking here particularly of the French gangster films of Jean-Pierre Melville of the early films of John Dahl. Genuine British noir is a rare bird but it seems to me that Basil Dearden's POOL OF LONDON ticks all the right boxes. Two merchant seamen, one white and one black, dock in London. The white (American actor Bonar Colleano) has a little sideline in contraband and is offered the chance to make some money delivering a package to Amsterdam. Unwittingly he becomes involved in, and the main suspect, for a murder committed during a heist. The plot follows Colleano, the robbers and the black sailor - played without any of the racial stereotyping so usual in the films of the period by West Indian actor Earl Camerobas he slowly gets drawn into his friends difficulties. The film even explores the obvious romantic pull between Cameron and the girl who works in the music hall (played by Susan Shaw) which is seen as doomed by the social racism of the time and depicted in a way far more subtle than you might expect. The film manages to be tense, atmospheric and exciting with first class performances throughout (look out for Alfie Bass as a safecracker) and benefts from being shot almost entirely on location in London with trams, trolley buses, pubs, dance halls and music halls all bringing back memories of a now nearly vanished London. Rating ****


Cerpts said...

Sounds superb!

Diandra said...

Excellent review! I've posted the pictures from your post, with a link back to you, here.