Passport to Shame

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Passport to Shame
Passport to Shame American poster.jpg
American theatrical release poster
Directed byAlvin Rakoff
Written byPatrick Alexander
Produced byJohn Clein
StarringDiana Dors
Herbert Lom
Eddie Constantine
CinematographyJack Asher
Edited byLee Doig
Music byKen Jones
Production
company
United Co Productions
Distributed byBritish Lion Films
Release dates
1958 (1958)
September 1959 (Los Angeles)[1]
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$180,000 [2]

Passport to Shame, also known as Room 43, is a 1958 British drama film directed by Alvin Rakoff, written by Patrick Alexander and starring Diana Dors and Herbert Lom.[3]

Premise[edit]

A young French woman becomes embroiled in a life of prostitution. Nick Biaggi (Herbert Lom) has a number of business interests, none of them honest. He runs a finance company that provides unsecured loans to naïve young women. This serves as a facade so that he can manipulate these women into his real business, prostitution . He recruits many of these women from abroad. To get them passports he has to find "husbands" for them within marriages of convenience. He has found a suitable husband for his newest recruit, Marie Louise (Malou) Beaucaire (Odile Versois). Johnny McVey (Eddie Constantine) is a Canadian cab driver and former soldier who has just borrowed a substantial amount of money from Nick’s finance company: however, Johnny doesn’t know that this is the case at the onset. He bought a new cab and now the cab has been damaged in a traffic accident, for which Nick was also responsible. Nick assists Johnny so that he can repay the loan, and mentions that Johnny could also make a further two hundred pounds through a marriage of convenience to a young French woman who really needs a passport. The marriage would be annulled after she has obtained the document. There would be no further obligations. Johnny is an honourable man, but not a naïve one. He realises what the ruse is meant to conceal. Nick acts as a procurer for female prostitutes, (or those who can be manipulated into that profession), but he needs British passports for these women. After they have obtained these, they cannot be deported once they start engaging in street sex work. Johnny is blasé about what will follow, as he regards himself as cynical and hardboiled. When he meets Malou he assumes that she is already a prostitute . He is amused when Malou tells him that she is still an innocent young woman.

Malou believes that she has been hired as a companion to an upper class British woman. Nick has established her in a nice house and she has been given pleasant outfits to wear. Furthermore, there is another young woman who lives in the same house, Vicki (Diana Dors). Malou is under the impression that Vicki is also a respectable. She has no idea about Vicki's actual profession, nor how she affords the fashionable clothes that she wears. Malou still has no idea about her ultimate prospects. However, she starts to suspect Nick's actual objectives for her once she looks inside Room 43, and sees the lingerié that Vicki wears underneath her clothes. Malou realises that 'respectable' women do not wear undergarments like that. Then Nick explains his actual objectives for Malou. However, Johnny has been re-evaluating his own initial impressions of Malou, and doesn’t like his conclusions. He does not like the idea of Malou, his erstwhile wife, as a sex worker and recruits his fellow cab drivers to locate and rescue her. Nick blackmails Malou into engaging in street sex work, and threatens her with disfigurement if she doesn't comply. After being forced to smoke cannabis, Malou undergoes an hallucinatory dream sequence, only to find that she has inadvertently killed a client, according to her captors and is pressured into becoming a streetwalker by Nick and Aggie.

Fortunately, Johnny and his cabdriver associates have located the unwilling and reluctant Malou and rescue her from the street. However, Johnny's cab is then pursued by Nick's gangster henchmen. but manages to elude them. Malou explains her situation to Johnny, who reassures her that she is safe. Subsequently, though, Nick and his criminal associates recapture Malou and assault Johnny, while fellow cab driver Mike and Vicki grow closer. Mike discovers Johnny in his demolished flat. Aggie suggests that Malou should be sent back to France, while it is also suggested that she should be murdered. Vicki and Aggie are horrified when Nick agrees to this 'solution' to Malou's plight. When Vicki's disfigured sister takes her own life, she finally breaks with Nick altogether and tells Johnny about where Nick is keeping Malou captive. Johnny disguises himself and enters the premises to rescue Malou once more, while Vicki lures Malou's guard away through seductive behaviour and then knocks him out with a bottle blow to the head. Meanwhile, cabdrivers converge on Nick's bordello and fight a pitched battle against Nick's gangster associates while Vicki, Johnny and Malou flee from Nick, in pursuit but a fire breaks out. Nick falls to his death, but Johnny has saved Malou and Vicki has decided to quit prostitution as a consequence of her experiences, and settles down with Mike [4][5]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

"This was not a low budget film," said director Alvin Rakoff, "this was a lowest budget film." When the lighting cut out during a key scene, the filming had to continue.

The film introduced new talent, such as Michael Caine in an uncredited role, Jackie Collins, later an acclaimed novelist, and Joan Sims.

Nicolas Roeg, director of Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth was the camera operator. Alvin Rakoff, a renowned television director, took on directing duties despite knowing that it would be an exploitation film because he wished to work in motion pictures.

This was Eddie Constantine's first English-language film.[6]

Filming began on 3 July 1958.[7]

The film was also known as Visa to Shame and One Way Street.

Reception[edit]

The Los Angeles Times said "the picture is rather well done."[8]

The Monthly Film Bulletin called it a "wildly incredible story" which "... must be the most wholeheartedly absurd prostitute drama yet. Motivations are mysterious and characterisations grotesque. Connoisseurs of the bizarre may relish some of the production's most ambitious moments."[9]

Variety said, "Though a familiar entry in characters and general action, it has a plus in fairly unfettered looks at prostitution in London and the workings of a white slave ring. It looks to have exploitation facets for Yank dualer chances and its “X” certificate in England should also help at the boxoffice. "[2]

Filmink thought Dors was better than the female lead.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Room 43' Will Open Next Week Los Angeles Times 18 Sep 1959: A10.
  2. ^ a b "Passport to Shame". Variety. 26 November 1958. p. 6.
  3. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | PASSPORT TO SHAME (1958)". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 15 January 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  4. ^ Classic Movie Ramblings "Room 43" (1958): 17.06.2020: http://dfordoom-movieramblings.blogspot.com/2020/06/room-43-1958.html
  5. ^ Room 43 (1958)
  6. ^ "Advertisement". Variety. January 1959.
  7. ^ "Hollywood Production Pulse". Variety. 6 August 1958. p. 20.
  8. ^ 'Room 43' Exposes Adults Only Theme Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 24 Sep 1959: B7.
  9. ^ Review of film Volume 26, No.302, March 1959, page 35 Monthly Film Bulletin
  10. ^ Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.

External links[edit]