The overly fierce piece that is used as a selling point for THE FRIGHTENED CITY is obvious and expected. It is of course, one of its stars. It is of course Sean Connery, a year before he became Bond, James Bond, he was to star in a film as a middle of the road hood, drawn into a mob scam. There is a lot more to the film than this of course. You have a sprinkle of social commentary (as Matthew Sweet says in his exemplary commentary), infused with stardom from the period (Herbert Lom and John Gregson) and a nice outing for director John Lemont and DOP Desmond Dickinson.

In the age of the SPIV, the seller and stripper of assets, came London mob life. In THE FRIGHTENED CITY we find a London accountant (Lom) wanting a little more from the daily calculations. He chances across a gang leader with some cash to dump (Alfred Marks). Seeing that this is ill gotten and often available, he offers to form a union. Six gangs will join into a syndicate for blood and money. All will of course succeed or all will fail. The only way to keep everyone in line is to hire a tough guy to be enforcer. Hiring someone was easy and so they found a Judo fighter and trained killer (Connery). He could help the syndicate or he could hinder the whole thing for love.

The strokes at play here are often well struck and well pitched. Swinging London is a place of dubious characters, iffy dealings and the force of force to dictate things. Sex, drink, violence and money are the motives and they are all being manipulated by the evil minded ‘business’ type. With the SPIV (rich public school boys) attacking anything that was a perceived antiquated business, we can see it all. Lom plays the shit so well and Connery is tough, ambitious but not a nasty, nasty after all. Though the film flags often, it still makes for a subtle piece of British crime drama.

Interview with journalist and film historian Matthew Sweet

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