The Good Die Young is a cracking British Noir picture directed by Lewis Gilbert and featuring a strong cast of British and American actors. Laurence Harvey, Stanley Baker, Richard Basehart, John Ireland, Gloria Grahame, Margaret Leighton, Joan Collins and Rene Ray are the principals. While support comes from Robert Morley and Freda Jackson.
Adapted from the novel written by Richard MacAuley, the story starts with four men pulling up in a car, guns are passed around them and it's soon evident they are about to commit a serious crime. We are then taken through the sequences for each man, how they came to be at that point in time, what brought them together and their common interest; that of women trouble and financial strife. It's excellently structured by Gilbert, four separate stories, yet all of them are on the same track and heading towards the grim and potently "noirish" final quarter. Such is the way that we as viewers have been fully informed about our characters, the impact when things get violent is doubly strong. It takes you by surprise at first because the makers have given us a smooth set-up, and then there is the shock factor because these were not criminal men at the outset. But then..
A real pleasant surprise to this particular viewer was The Good Die Young, it's got fully formed characters within a tight and interesting story. The cast do fine work, yes one could probably complain a touch that the ladies are under written, but they each get in and flesh out the downward spiral of the male protagonists. Rene Ray is particularly impressive as the fraught wife of Stanley Baker's injured boxer, Mike, while Gloria Grahame (walking like a panther) is memorable as a bitch-a-like babe driving her husband Eddie (Ireland) to distraction. Basehart is his usual value for money self, but it's Baker and Harvey who own the picture. Baker does a great line in raw emotion, a big man, big heart and a big conscious; his journey is the films emotional axis, while Harvey is positively weasel like as playboy sponger Miles Ravenscourt; someone who is guaranteed to have you hissing at the screen with his stiffness perfectly befitting the character.
Top stuff. 8/10