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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    The Criminal (1960)





    No need to deal with criminal bootleggers for this one - it is available

    as a legitimate Region 1 (US) release. .....Perhaps R2 soon ???



    Director Joseph Losey

    Production Company Merton Park

    Producer Jack Greenwood

    Screenplay Alun Owen

    Cinematography Robert Krasker

    Editor Reginald Mills

    Music John Dankworth





    Cast: Stanley Baker (Johnny Bannion); Margit Saad (Suzanne); Sam Wanamaker (Mike Carter); Grégoire Aslan (Frank Saffron); Patrick Magee (Chief Warder Barrows); Jill Bennett (Maggie)





    The Criminal was unlucky enough to open in the same week as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (d. Karel Reisz), and was thus overshadowed, in Britain at least, by the celebrated British New Wave film. On the continent, however, it was a slightly different story: The Criminal consolidated French cineastes' growing interest in Joseph Losey's work for its visual panache and sharp social commentary.



    Divided fairly equally between prison and the outside world, The Criminal centres on Johnny Bannion, an underworld kingpin, brought to life in a mean, moody and magnificent performance by Stanley Baker. Baker is said to have based his performance on his friend, real-life Soho criminal Albert Dimes, who Losey described as "a huge, staggeringly handsome man. He drove around in a smashing, big, white convertible with black leather upholstery". One can see reflections of this kind of tacky grandeur in Richard MacDonald's set design for Bannion's flat, with its black satin sheets and life-size nude pin-up on the bathroom door.



    Bannion begins the film as a dominant figure in the criminal hierarchy, but finds his old-fashioned ways being superseded by a new breed of smooth corporate criminal, exemplified by double-crossing American sophisticate Mike Carter, who calmly informs Bannion that crime is now "a business. But your sort doesn't fit into an organisation. So we can't have you running about, messing things up, now can we, John?"



    Perhaps stronger on atmosphere than narrative clarity, The Criminal has many memorable touches: the complex soundtrack of the opening sequence, combining the haunting strains of the film's theme 'Thieving Boy', sung by Cleo Laine, with an Irish prisoner's demotic version of 'knick knack paddywhack' and an improvised calypso by a Caribbean inmate; the first appearance of Maggie through the fragmented perspective of a kaleidoscope; the final shots, in which the camera soars up above the snowy field where Bannion has met his lonely demise before we return to a long shot of the prison, underlining Bannion's perpetual confinement in the criminal world. It's also arguably the first British film to be honest about the British penal system, with Losey attempting, in his own words, "to show life in prison as it really was: where the guards were bribed and where there were ruling gangs in opposition to each other... where there was a kind of violence of unbelievable brutality but mixed with humour and a certain kind of compassion."



    Reviewed by Melanie Williams



    From:

    screenonline: Criminal, The (1960)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    The original screenplay was by Jimmy Sangster which Losey considered rubbish and a rip-off of American prison films. He brought in Liverpudlian playwright, Alun Owen, to give it some authentity but the producers insisted he retain the out-of-prison storyline with its weird cast of unconvincing characters. The jail scenes are still unsurpassed and there was an openly gay relationship between the characters played by Kenneth Warren and Brian Phelan that was cut from subsequent TV showings. Also at that time the significance of putting an Irish Catholic (Baker) in the same cell as an Irish Protestant (Neil McCarthy) was over the heads of most English audiences. Baker's *role model*, Albert Dimes, was a racketeer and enforcer rather than a blagger like Bannion.



    A flawed masterpiece.



    D

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    THE CRIMINAL was one of the few 'A' films produced by Merton Park's Jack Greenwood.



    Do any forum members have any memories of working for Jack ?



    Julian

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: Scotland
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    I can think of one.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Because of his B-Movie output, Losey regarded Greenwood as a philistine and there was tension between Losey and Greenwood on the set of THE CRIMINAL.



    At one point Greenwood fired Losey, probably over shooting schedules, but backed down when Baker threatened to pull out if Losey left. It was thought that the conflict was deliberately brought about by Losey to rid himself of Greenwood.



    Losey later claimed that the rather short racetrack robbery scene was out of deference to Kubrick's THE KILLING but I suspect the budget didn't allow it.



    D.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: England John Llewellyn Moxey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julian_craster
    THE CRIMINAL was one of the few 'A' films produced by Merton Park's Jack Greenwood.



    Do any forum members have any memories of working for Jack ?



    Julian




    I certainly do. He was always friendly (until you went over schedule) and very pleasant to work with. John Llewellyn

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    Quote Originally Posted by dylan
    Because of his B-Movie output, Losey regarded Greenwood as a philistine and there was tension between Losey and Greenwood on the set of THE CRIMINAL.



    D.
    Really?!...the only films that Losey made before this -save for 'Time without Pity' and 'Blind Date'- were B's!

  8. #8
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    I found an original Anglo-Amalgamated pressbook for the Joseph Losey/Stanley Baker film The Criminal at the car boot at the weekend. The weird thing is that the front has the title The Concrete Jungle (which was the title in the US, I believe), while on the inside the film is referred to throughout as The Criminal. The front page is detached, but definitely belongs to the rest (the reverse of the cover has The Criminal title too). Any idea what was going on here - it must have left exhibitors confused...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: Afghanistan
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    I dont see how Concrete Jungle relates to this film at all.



    I would suggest it might be a 'working title' ? If your not familiar this is just a name film makers give their film while it is being worked on. It helps keep confidentiality on set and of course the fact that a proper title had not been thought of at that stage.



    In the same way for example Paul McCartney called Yesterday 'scrambled eggs' until he had finished it.

  10. #10
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Hopkins

    I found an original Anglo-Amalgamated pressbook for the Joseph Losey/Stanley Baker film The Criminal at the car boot at the weekend. The weird thing is that the front has the title The Concrete Jungle (which was the title in the US, I believe), while on the inside the film is referred to throughout as The Criminal. The front page is detached, but definitely belongs to the rest (the reverse of the cover has The Criminal title too). Any idea what was going on here - it must have left exhibitors confused...
    Anglo-Amalgamated weren't known for spending a lot. Was the cover in colour but the rest in B&W?



    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook

    Anglo-Amalgamated weren't known for spending a lot. Was the cover in colour but the rest in B&W?



    Steve
    Yes the cover is in colour (with UK distribution credits) and the interior black and white. It was originally all stapled together but the cover has come loose from the rest. Sometimes the BBFC have a film logged under two titles if it was going to be called something else and then retitled just before release but I can only find it on their site as The Criminal.



    It's described as 'the toughest picture ever made in Britain'



    There are a couple of surface tears to the cover - a small one over part of the title and a larger one in the bottom left corner. I'm wondering if there were stickers regarding the title change that have been removed from this copy. But it still seems curious that the cover would have a different title.

  12. #12
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Hopkins

    Yes the cover is in colour (with UK distribution credits) and the interior black and white. It was originally all stapled together but the cover has come loose from the rest. Sometimes the BBFC have a film logged under two titles if it was going to be called something else and then retitled just before release but I can only find it on their site as The Criminal.



    It's described as 'the toughest picture ever made in Britain'



    There are a couple of surface tears to the cover - a small one over part of the title and a larger one in the bottom left corner. I'm wondering if there were stickers regarding the title change that have been removed from this copy. But it still seems curious that the cover would have a different title.
    They probably decided to save money by just having one cover printed in colour



    Steve

  13. #13
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    Here's a link to some archived images for the film on emovieposter.com (I couldn't siphon out the other films in the search):



    http://www.emovieposter.com/imagearc.../Criminal.html



    The pressbook design is the same as the UK quad but with the Concrete Jungle title and no 'X' cert

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: Ireland
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    Last edited by doojeen; 11-12-11 at 07:30 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: Ireland
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    THE CRIMINAL (Joseph Losey, 1960)

    Joseph Losey�s The Criminal (originally released in the States, truncated, as The Concrete Jungle) doesn�t explain much; viewers get to feel they are crossing a complex of lives at some middle point. This bleak, incisive film about prison culture and the workday underworld outside, which somewhat taps a Jean-Pierre Melvillean vein, doesn�t feel packaged. It sometimes leaves the viewer adrift.

    Johnny Bannion is a London thug. On the day before his release he is top dog in prison. On the outside he participates in a racetrack robbery, whose �40,000 take (minus some) he buries in a field whose covering of snow predicts it will be the scene of his own death. Rather than being on top of things, Johnny finds himself enmeshed in a complex scheme of betrayals and counter-betrayals. He ends up back in prison, where there is hell for him to pay because people on the outside connected to those on the inside want to know where the money is. Johnny escapes, but into the hands of his killers. At the last, shot to pieces, he seeks God�s absolution; but God surely recalls as well as we do Johnny�s earlier desecration of Sunday Mass by the vengeful motivation behind his attendance. An overhead shot of criminals feverishly digging up the field in search of the loot, we now know, shows a lot of blind grave-digging�from God�s pitiless perspective.

    A haunting ballad brings a melancholy air to cold prison life; the extraordinarily complex mise-en-sc�ne inside the prison suggests a Dantean inferno. Johnny�s life is crowded but not full; he is a loner perpetually poised to slip into a hellish void. Is it that which criminal activity, dense associations, concrete walls, bars and pictures of naked women were unconsciously intended to hide from sight?

    "With The Criminal (1960), Losey gained a mature modicum of control, though his visual ideas were as vital and vulgar as ever. His command of atmosphere and his ability to build tension are outstanding here�he even uses some cockeyed German Expressionist angles. The bursts of violence in The Criminal are orgasmic in their surety, in their explosive feeling of energy at last unleashed. Some scenes spill over the top, making an unconvincing mess, yet mournful soundtrack jazz and winter landscapes signal a darkening of Losey�s consciousness. He leaps onto theatrical moments and is unafraid to hold long takes; this works especially well during an aria delivered by a prison inmate about the madness and solitude of penal life. From his lead, tough-sexy Stanley Baker, Losey gets an exceptional performance."

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: UK Merton Park's Avatar
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    The Criminal is one of the best ever British crime films and one of my all time favourite films. I last watched it about a year ago and it hasn't lost any of its original impact. The cast were terrific, Stanley Baker, Sam Wannamaker etc etc. Amazing to think its now over 50 years old!!!!!
    Last edited by Merton Park; 12-12-11 at 03:06 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Tigon Man's Avatar
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    Agreed Merton, one of the best British crime films of the sixties. The tragic scene at the finale, of the bleak winter landscape and Baker searching fruitlessly in the snowy field is superb.
    Great Brit cast as well including Patrick Magee, Neil McCarthy, Tom Bell and a snitching Ken Cope.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    Just saw this a couple of nights ago. What a great way to spend a couple of hours.
    Every performance was perfect, and there was a lovely balance between realism and theatrical staginess - exemplified most clearly by a prisoner's monologue practically to camera, a single spot lights his face as the rest of the cell block suddenly darkens, then the lights come back on and he carries on as the camera pulls away.
    the message isn't a simple "crime doesn't pay", it's almost a "even when it pays, crime is grindingly nasty business".

    Great stuff.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: United States
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    A concrete jungle is just a descriptive for a modern day city. That title has the advantage of also referring to prison life, as the inside of a prison is built of concrete. Of course, I wouldn't know about things like that personally. I teach across the street from the Eastern State Penitentiary in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. It's been out of commission since the early seventies. Charles Dickens once wrote scathingly about the place after a visit there, which naturally reenforced his dismal opinion of Americans. The place is now a museum. They have wonderful exhibits for kids every Halloween. I'm sure the irony would not have been lost on Mr. Dickens.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Ireland
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    Mark Twain said, "If you want to see the dregs of society, go down to the jail and watch the changing of the guard."

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