Jailbreak Film Details
Overview: A family of burglars and safecrackers plan a heist at a jewelry store. When one of the family–who is the safecracking expert–gets arrested and jailed, they hatch a plan to break him out so he can take part in the robbery.
Review: A gang of thieves lead by Ma Wallis (Avice Landone) and her eldest son Eddie (Peter Reynolds) agree to break into Barringtons auction house and steal a priceless collection of jewelery for Martinetti. However, things are complicated when Eddie’s kid brother Ron (David Gregory) is sentenced to six months in prison for taking and driving away a van to rob the London Industrial Bank. They get succeed in getting Ron and his confederate Wally over the wall, but things take another twist when another inmate, Len Rogerson (David Kernan), escapes with him. He claims he was framed for somebody else’s crime and his teenage girlfriend Carol Marshall (Carol White) is pregnant with his child. In addition, the pair want to get married but Carol’s parents object as they “don’t want (their) daughter getting tied up with no jailbird and that’s that!” When Barringtons puts back the sale of the jewelery collection by another week, Ma and Eddie arrange for the escapees to hide in a private nursing home run by Dr Cambus (Geoffrey Hibbert). Cambus is known to the Wallis family since they discovered that he was a phony and not qualified for the job he does making it easy to blackmail him into hiding Ron, Wally and Len. However, they are in danger of being given away by Len who keeps trying to escape to see Carol. He sends out a message to her via the elderly porter Jonah and she comes to the nursing home putting both her life and Len’s in great danger. Carol is kidnapped and Len locked in his room after the gang go to carry out the robbery, but will the Wallis’s plan finally come unstuck? A slightly sharper British b-pic from the oft-maligned Butcher’s Film Service who in recent years have enjoyed something of a renaissance. In the 1990’s many of their low budget programmers (including this one) were regularly shown on late night television (ITV) and in the 2010’s they got a home video release courtesy of the splendid Renown Pictures. There was even a commemorative Butcher’s booklet! The film is remembered mainly because it features an early role for Carol White (Cathy Come Home) who tragically died very young as a pregnant teenager who wants to marry a jailbird against her socially conservative parents wishes. This subplot was no doubt intended to spice up the film a little at the time, but whereas it may have seemed a little controversial back then it doesn’t today. The film’s most attractive element is the mother figure Ma Wallis (Landone) who is the brains behind the crooks activities no matter how hard her eldest son Eddie (Reynolds) tries to make out he is. Director Francis Searle, a prolific maker of British second features, stages some effective and amusing little scenes such as Ma visiting Ron in prison and she deliberately puts on this harmless little old lady routine in front of the prison warder: “Can’t I send him in a little cake?”, she asks. “Sorry, its against the regulations” replies the warder with very little patience dismissing her as a daft old woman. Then, right under his nose and he cannot twig what’s going on, she and Ron start planning his escape in faintly coded speech. Next, Searle cuts to the Wallis’s parlour behind their little newsagents shop that acts as a front for their criminal activities where she is laying out a full scale diagram of the prison layout and directs Eddie and the boys with great authority exactly how they are going to pull off Ron’s breakout. There isn’t much in the way of suspense or dramatic tension and the plain and uninspired way the actual jailbreak is shown betrays the picture’s shoestring budget. Yet the cast give straightforward honest performances as working class villians and that helps matters. One of the gang, Slim, who got taken to court himself and witnessed Ron getting his sentence says “I was (there) for not paying any maintenance to my wife for the past five years. What, does she think I’m made of money or something?” The fact that these little dramas was set in modest and realistic working class settings featuring ordinary people with ordinary problems and aspirations was what gave them a little edge and made them likeable to watch. In addition, the cramped little sitting rooms of terraced houses and tiny cornershops from which the action unfolds are beautifully lit by cinematographer Ken Hodges giving them a fine sense of place and period. All in all, despite the limitations of its tight budgeting, Francis Searle succeeds in fashioning an engaging and unpretentiously ambitious little crime drama that is worth taking the trouble to see.
Genre: Crime, Drama
Also known as: Gaolbreak,Jailbreak