Tiger in the Smoke
Tiger in the Smoke – 1956 | 85 mins | Crime, Thriller | B&W
Atmospheric adaptation of a thriller by Margery Allingham about a gang of ex-servicemen at large in a marvellously foggy London. This skilfully-set British film boasts some wonderfully skewed camerawork from cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth but never delivers on the build-up of an agonising first hour in the fog, with nerves stretched tautly in these eerie surroundings. Muriel Pavlow is very good as the heroine, as is Christopher Rhodes as a police inspector, but Tony Wright’s Jack Havoc never quite seems the `truly evil man’ that detective Alec Clunes describes. Among the `street band’, Bernard Miles and Kenneth Griffith take the honours.
A gang of WWII veterans led by Doll (Bernard Miles) are masquerading as street musicians and searching the London underworld for Jack Havoc (Tony Wright), their former sergeant, who, during a wartime commando raid on a French Chateau, deprived them of some hidden loot. Meanwhile, Meg Elgin (Muriel Pavlow) wishes to marry her fiancé Geoffrey Leavitt (Donald Sinden) but for three months has been terrorised by an anonymous mailer sending photographs of her dead husband Martin in the post.
Geoffrey attempts to track down the fanatic upsetting Meg but only manages to fall into the clutches of Doll’s gang when he is seen drinking with an ex-con friend of Havoc’s. In the meantime, Havoc escapes from Wormwood Scrubs prison and begins searching for clues to the whereabouts of the hidden war loot; killing a caretaker and attempting to murder Meg in the process. It soon becomes apparent that the treasure raid was carried out by Major Elgin and a select band of his men on the French château he lived in as a child – but neither Havoc nor Doll’s men know where Elgin stashed his ill-gotten gains.
Back at the home of Meg’s clergyman father (Laurence Naismith), his butler Will (Charles Victor) reveals that he has always known the whereabouts of a letter from Major Elgin, and retrieves it from the pulpit. The letter states that the treasure is waiting to be collected in France; and subsequently Meg and Geoffrey immediately set sail on the cross-channel night boat. But Havoc, real name Johnny Cash and a long-time neighbour of Meg’s, is hot on their trail.
Roy Ward Baker: Director
Jack Maxsted: Art Direction
Geoffrey Unsworth: Cinematography
Joan Ellacott: Costume Design
John D Guthridge: Film Editing
Bob Lawrance: Makeup Department
Biddy Chrystal: Makeup Department
Malcolm Arnold: Original Music
Leslie Parkyn: Producer
Anthony Pelissier: Script
Roger Cherrill: Sound Department
Geoffrey Daniels: Sound Department
Gordon K McCallum: Sound Department
Harry Fairbairn: Sound Department