Thursday, 11 September 2014

Cash on Demand.

Quentin Lawrence’s best film of his career was the highly rated B-movie, made in 1961 and released in 1963, called Cash on Demand. The film was adapted from a 1960 TV play written by Jacques Gillies and called The Gold Inside. This exciting and very well structured Hammer production was shot by one of that studio’s most notable camera men Arthur Grant who made a great contribution to the build up of sustained suspense. His restrained approach gave the provincial bank, where nearly all the action takes place, a repressive ordinariness, which was crucial to this excellent low-key thriller[1]. 

The films plot involves a small local bank in Haversham and it’s the 23rd December. The manager Harry Fordyce is one of the old school, no Christmas cards on display and certainly no decorations pointing out to his subservient staff that “banking is a dignified business and needs to stay that way” and as usual he will not be attending the staff party.  He is an arrogant man who demands that his staff run the bank by the book. Fordyce is also at loggerheads with his chief cashier Pearson who he has never got on with and threatens to sack him over another staff members silly mistake. The manager’s unfeeling efficiency is not appreciated by any of the staff that consider they work under unnecessary duress. On the morning in question the bank opens as normal, staff arrive at 9:45 and get the bank ready to open by 10oclock. The manager is in his office when he is informed that Colonel Gore Hepburn from the banks insurance company has arrived to check on the banks security practises. After he has had a good look around the public areas he join’s Fordyce in his office and tells Pearson that there not to be disturbed. It at this point that our branch manager is informed by Hepburn that he is really there to relieve the strong room of £93000. He informs Fordyce that unless he helps him rob his own bank the manager’s wife and son, who are being held hostage in their own home, will be harmed. Obviously Harry Fordyce must do as he is told - whatever the cost!
Fordyce does not get on with his chief cashier.
Peter Cushing is striking in what is possible one of his best roles as the Ebenezer Scrooge like character Harry Fordyce, with Andre Morell as Gore Hepburn who played this part in the original TV production and Richard Vernon who gives a career best performance as Pearson. Also playing their part are Edith Sharpe, Norman Bird and Barry Lowe as the other bank staff. This movie is up there with the very finest of British B-movie’s and certainly is one of the best Hammer has made. Although the film is principally about a bank hoist it does very well in the emotional stakes highlighting the relationship between the tyrannical manager and his staff which is as important, to the story, as the bank robbery which does not, incidentally, rely on physical brutality to underpin the threat of violence.
A life changing moment for the Bank Manager.
The film was made at Hammers, Bray Studio located near Maidenhead in Berkshire England. The producer was Michael Carreras, son of the founder of Hammer Studios and responsible for directing Slave Girls (1967). For some unexplained reason the original UK release of Cash on Demand had a running time of sixty-six minutes where as the USA release was just short of ninety minutes.

[1] The British B Film. Stevie Chibnell and Brian McFarlane 2009.

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