Friday, 22 August 2014

The Shakedown.

Renown Pictures Ltd, which were originally founded by George Minter in 1938, is a Production and Distribution company that revives British classic movies and whose restoration of British B-movies is exceptional giving the viewer a chance to see rare films in clarity beyond reproach. And it’s done it again with The Shakedown (1959), another ‘missing’ B-movie which boasts a solid story, played out with a strong cast and could easily be mistaken for the main feature at 89 minutes with an exciting pace that does not falter from start to finish.
Augie Cortona (Terence Morgan) instructs one of the models. 
Written and directed by Toronto born John Lemont who entered the film industry in 1935 and worked with the Army Film Unit during WW2. His first feature film was not until 1954 and his best-known is the crime drama The Frightened City (1962) that stared a pre-Bond Sean Connery as a villain. He also worked a great deal in Television.
Jessel (Donald Pleasence) 
As far as I’m aware this is the first time that The Shakedown has appeared anywhere on DVD. It stars Terence Morgan (Tread Softly Stranger 1958) as a crook called Augie Cortona who is due for release from prison and shares a cell with a petty crook called David Spelligue (Bill Owen There Was a Young Lady 1953, Dancing With Crime 1947).  Before Augie was incarcerated he run a call girl racket in Soho, London’s red light district. Grassed up by his disloyal partner Goller (a foreign looking Harry H Corbett!) who now runs all of Augie’s previous rackets – but the released jail bird wants them back, or at least to find away of getting back at his ex partner. To this end he robs two of Goller’s henchmen of their latest takings, the proceeds of which are more than enough to set up a photo-modelling agency with Jessel (Donald Pleasence Hell is the City 1969) a professional photographer, who Augie met quite by accident in a public house! 

Thats no way to treat an ex alcoholic! 

Is our ex pimp going straight? Chief Inspector Bob Jarvis (Robert Beatty) certainly does not think so and puts an undercover officer in to the studio. But unbeknown to both the police and Augie, Goller has also placed a plant in the agency. Augustus Cortona’s hard shell falters when he falls for one of the studio’s high-class models Mildred Eyde (the stylish B-movie queen Hazel Court) and starts up a courtship.
Augie's courtship of Mildred Eyde (Hazel Court) 
Well shot, this gritty realistic black and white movie is a must for crime film lovers and ‘is possessed of a gumption worthy of the best American B-movie and a welcome alternative to those prim and stodgy British films that are mistakenly called classics’[1] A rather risqué film with its hint of nudity and an indication of elicit sex. It also manages to capture the same sordid and gritty feel of Michael Powell’s classic Peeping Tom (1960), which is praise in its self.

[1] James Oliver – Offbeat

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