McQueen is a character in crisis. Six months after escaping from jail, he dares to venture outside again – against all advice. His first foray outdoors is to take part in a robbery that goes wrong, leaving him with the threat of a murder charge and abandoned, alone in the city and wounded from a bullet in his shoulder. He hides out in bomb shelters; takes refuge in the back of a cab; and is smuggled into the snug of a rowdy, imposing pub. McQueen becomes more and more passive as a merry dance escalates around him, with more and more characters taking interest (or not) in his fate, until we reach a dilapidated house of fools on the edge of the city – inhabited by a shabby birdman and a bullish painter. This is a delusional McQueen’s last supper, and by now we’re far away from the thriller tendencies of the film’s opening and instead deep into more personal, contemplative, purgatorial territory. A fascinating supporting cast, from McQueen’s worried comrades and girlfriend to two caring former ARP wardens, and a rousing score by William Alwyn add brio to Mason’s fascinating performance. Well worth visiting, not least for its similarities to ‘The Third Man’.
Cast and crew