Friday, 26 July 2013

Not For The Squeamish

'The Squeeze' has a bit of a reputation as an under-appreciated classic but, for me, although it has its moments and a great cast, it simply isn't dynamic or consistent enough to be anything other than an interesting also ran. The superb Stacy Keach plays Jim Naboth, a Scotland Yard detective turned private investigator turned skid row alcoholic. When his ex-wife is kidnapped as a prelude to a million pound security van heist, Naboth gets dragged back into the game, ultimately overcoming his problems temporarily to prove more than a match for his ruthless opponents.

As well as Mr. Keach, who maintains a good but rather too generic English accent throughout, we get Edward Fox, Stephen Boyd, Alan Ford, Roy Marsden, Carol White and, playing a real bastard, Island favourite David Hemmings. Freddie Starr plays Naboth's best mate in a stilted and uncomfortable performance that was inexplicably praised at the time, perhaps simply because Freddie confounded expectations and didn't do it dressed as Hitler.    

It's an interesting story, sleazy and violent, but it has far too many characters and is too fond of going off at tangents, which is fine if you are Raymond Chandler, but just seems untidy here. The film is building nicely to a climax, for example, when for no particular reason, it takes a ten minute diversion for a scene set in a massage parlour which is amusing, but completely diffuses the tension and derails the narrative. Director Michael Apted seems too keen to give it a documentary feel, so there are very few 'compositions' - it's all filmed on the hoof, and seems slightly scruffy and muddled, as if the action is always at the corner of the screen.

Somewhere in 'The Squeeze' there is a first rate crime film waiting to get out, or, at least, a bloody good episode of 'The Sweeney', but it's thirty years too late to do it now. Don't be put off by that, though, it's still worth watching, if only for some of the trousers.  

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