Noirvember 2019: British Noir



Last night I watched a British film noir title called Wide Boy (1952). No, it's not about some fat kid. "Wide boy" is British slang (if I'm interpreting the term correctly) for someone who's wide awake and has his wits about him, ready for opportunities as they present themselves. This is exactly what happens to Benny (Sydney Tafler), a small-time thief who's looking to move up in the criminal world.



Benny sees a couple in a bar having a private conversation. While the woman foolishly leaves her purse on a barstool before heading to the restroom - and her gentleman friend is distracted - Benny lifts the woman's wallet. It contains money, as he expected, plus a bonus: a letter from the woman's lover, a man named Mannerling (Colin Tapley), the same guy who plans to run for public office soon. That's right: It's blackmail time.


The rest of Wide Boy is a fairly routine story, but director Ken Hughes does a nice job of making a loser like Benny somewhat sympathetic and the film includes a nice finale. Plus it's only 63 minutes.


Wide Boy may not be your best choice for a British film noir this Noirvember, but I've really enjoyed some of these other lesser-known Brit noir titles:



Mine Own Executioner (1947)



Offbeat (1961)



Bang! You're Dead (1954)



Circle of Danger (1951)



Little Red Monkey (1954)



House Across the Lake (1954)


These are just a few Brit noir ideas for you. All of these films are available from Network, a nifty British company that releases some great stuff. These are all Region 2 (or Region B for Blu-rays) releases, but if you live in Europe or have a region-free player, these are all worth picking up. Plus Network has frequent sales, so check them out.

© 2019 by Andy Wolverton

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