Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Penny Gold - 1973 film review

Penny Gold, a British crime film first released in 1973, has a number of things going for it, in particular a very good cast. It's led by James Booth, best known for his role in Zulu, but really a compelling and rather sardonic actor whom I enjoy watching. And then there is Francesca Annis, who has long been one of my favourite actors. A good supporting cast includes Nicky Henson, Joss Ackland (so good in White Mischief) and - in a minor part, before she became well-known - Penelope Keith, playing a model. Una Stubbs, Sue Lloyd, and John Savident also appear.

The film opens with the murder of a young woman,and before long the cops, in the person of Booth and Henson are on the scene. One striking feature of their handling of the investigation is the occasionally aggressive approach of Booth in particular - this was, of course, the era of The Sweeney. It must have seemed very modern at the time, but is rather disturbing now.

The storyline is quite complicated. It involves identical twins (yes, that old stand-by!), a rare postage stamp, and more than one murder. Although they sometimes take a predictable course, I find stories about twins rather interesting. I've never written one myself, but maybe one of these days. Here the presence of twins in the story is - foreseeably - significant.

The screenplay was written by David Osborn and Liz Charles-Williams, both of whom had a number of crime scripts to their credit. But I'm afraid that the screenplay is what lets the film down. The use of flashbacks is clunky, and so are some of the plot devices, along with too much of the dialogue. There is a good idea lurking here, but on the whole, Penny Gold doesn't make the most of its talented cast...

P.S. - Thanks for bearing with me during various tricky moments with this blog and my webisite over the last couple of days. Special thanks to Fiona and Zach for alerting me to those issues. I feared Russian hackers were to blame, but the explanation proved to be more prosaic...


Shalet Jimmy said...

Thanks for the post. Just finished watching " The Lady Vanishes " by Alfred Hitchcock (1938). Sometimes you need help in picking the right movies...Thanks again. I have just delved into the world of murder mystery and thriller movies.

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Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Shalet