Tiger in the Smoke
|Tiger in the Smoke|
|Directed by||Roy Ward Baker|
|Produced by||Leslie Parkyn|
|Written by||Margery Allingham
|Distributed by||Rank Organisation|
|Release date(s)||27 November 1956|
|Running time||94 minutes (United Kingdom)|
Tiger in the Smoke is a 1956 British crime film directed by Roy Ward Baker and starring Donald Sinden, Muriel Pavlow, Tony Wright, Bernard Miles and Christopher Rhodes. It is based on the 1952 novel The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham, although the film omits the principal character of Albert Campion. The film is set in a noirish smog-shrouded London, and combines the genres of mystery, thriller, crime and drama. The cinematography was by Geoffrey Unsworth.
Having been sent a picture of her husband, a war hero killed in France, Meg Elgin is led to believe he is still alive and arranges a meeting at a London railway station. When she arrives there with the police accompanying her, she catches sight of a man in the distance wearing an old coat of her husband's. When he is pursued and captured, he turns out to be Duds Morrison a former soldier and out-of-work actor recently let out of prison. He refuses to tell them anything, and having nothing they can charge him with, the police release him.
His interest aroused by the pictures sent to Meg, her new fiancé Geoffrey Leavitt follows Morrison and tries to demand an answer from him about his sudden appearance masquerading as Meg’s dead husband. Morrison again refuses to talk, and tries to flee from Leavitt - into an alley where he is set upon by a gang of ex-soldiers who beat him to death and take Leavitt off as a prisoner.
It is soon revealed that they are ex-commandos and former comrades of Morrison, with whom they served on a raid in Brittany in the Second World War. The commander of the raid had been Major Elgin, the husband of Meg. They were led to believe that Elgin had secreted a large amount of treasure in a house in Brittany and now that he is dead they are desperate to get their hands on it. They are wary of their former Sergeant, a psychopath named Jack Havoc, who has recently escaped from prison and committed several murders, who is also seeking out the treasure. Believing that Morrison was an accomplice of Havoc, they attacked him.
Wearing their old uniforms they have spent the past few years trying to carve out a living as street musicians, begging from passers by. Realising that releasing Leavitt might open them to being charged for the murder of Morrison, they bind him up and keep him as a prisoner. He is rescued later by a patrol policemen who investigates the squat while the musicians are out. Leavitt returns to Meg and together they head to Brittany to find the treasure. Havoc, now united with his former comrades, also travels to France where he discovers to his disgust that when Major Elgin had spoken of his ‘priceless’ treasure he had in fact been referring to its artistic beauty rather than its monetary worth. The treasure is in fact a statue of the Madonna.
Except for the omission of Campion, the film follows the plot of the book very closely.
- Donald Sinden as Geoffrey Leavitt
- Muriel Pavlow as Meg Elgin
- Tony Wright as Jack Havoc
- Bernard Miles as Doll
- Alec Clunes as Assistant Commissioner Oates
- Laurence Naismith as The Canon
- Christopher Rhodes as Detective Chief Inspector Luke
- Charles Victor as Will
- Thomas Heathcote as Rolly Gripper
- Sam Kydd as Tom Gripper
- Kenneth Griffith as Gang member
- Gerald Harper as Duds Morrison
- Wensley Pithey as Detective Sergeant Pickett
- Stratford Johns as Police Constable
- Brian Wilde as Trumps
- Beatrice Varley as Lucy Cash
- Percy Herbert as Copper
- Dandy Nichols as Stall-owner
- Mayer p.124
- Mayer, Geoff. Roy Ward Baker. Manchester University Press, 2004.