Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Squeeze (1977)


The first 'Random Move Trailer' of 2015 brings us a taster of the 1977 crime thriller The Squeeze.  Sadly, this one hasn't turned up on TV in many, many years.  Which is a pity as it has much to recommend it.  Not as slickly made as Get Carter, The Squeeze still deserves to be regarded as a minor classic amongst 1970s British crime movies, if nothing else because of its, well, sheer seediness.  The London it inhabits is one of shabby council flats, sleazy massage parlours and dingy bars.  Eccentrically cast with Stacy Keach sporting a hair piece and dodgy English accent in the lead and a pre-sex (unfounded) allegation Freddie star as his sidekick, the film also features some truly vicious and unpleasant villains in the form of Stephen Boyd in just about his last role (and a long way from Ben Hur) and a decidedly non-swinging David Hemmings.

The plot involves alcoholic ex-cop Keach's ex wife being kidnapped by Boyd in order to blackmail her current banker husband into co-operating with Boyd's gang on a security van robbery.  Keach naturally tries to intervene, but, not surprisingly, is treated for most of the film as something of a joke by the villains.  They're right to do so as, in the main, he is an utterly hopeless drunk and totally ineffective.  Rather like Lindsay Shonteff's Clegg, The Squeeze features a private eye hero who doesn't actually seem to do much detective work himself, instead relying on others to do it for him.  Indeed, most people don't even believe Keach is a gumshoe:  as a neighbour remarks when Keach and Starr use her house to watch some villainous activity, "I never realised you were a private eye - I just thought you were unemployed." 

Of course, Keach gradually gets his act together and the film moves toward a violent climax.  Assuredly directed on some really tatty looking London locations by Michael Apted (later to direct Bond movie The World is Not Enough), The Squeeze is an agreeably rough around the edges crime thriller.  Best of all, it depicts London the way I remember it from boyhood trips there during the 1970s to visit relatives: tired, run down and dirty. 



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