I chanced upon the 1952 movie The Long Memory by accident when browsing the schedules – and it was a really good find. Some people describe it as a British film noir. It certainly moves at a lively pace from start to finish – and you can’t be at all sure how it will finish, which is a bonus.
John Mills stars as Davidson, a man just released from prison after serving 12 years for a murder he didn’t commit. He was convicted thanks to perjured testimony and now he is out for revenge. By a pleasing twist, the girl who betrayed him (to save her own father) is now married to a senior cop who is keeping an eye on what he is up to. Davidson is, perhaps understandably, a grumpy chap, and even when a glamorous young Norwegian woman befriends him and takes up residence in the ruined boathouse that is his adoptive home, he is amazingly unimpressed – to begin with, anyway.
The film, set mainly on the Thames estuary, an evocative locale, was directed by Robert Hamer, who was responsible for one of my favourite films, Kind Hearts and Coronets. Hamer, a gay alcoholic who died young, was clearly a superb director and I’d like to know more about him and his work.
The cast, also, is excellent. It includes Geoffrey Keen (who later appeared in several Bond films), Thora Hird, John Slater (later in Z Cars), John Horsley (later the doctor in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin) and the young Christopher Beeny (later in Upstairs, Downstairs). I found the story entertaining and the script taut. It was based on a book by Howard Clewes, of whom I must admit I’ve never heard. Recommended.