Gritty noir thriller from director Joseph Losey. When Losey was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, he came to England to work. This was the first film he directed under his own name since the blacklist. It tells the tale of David Graham (Michael Redgrave), an alcoholic writer who has 24 hours to save his son Alec (Alec McCowan) from being hanged for murdering his girlfriend. Tyrannical car dealer Robert Stanford (Leo McKern) knows the truth of the matter, but keeps Graham on the defensive. As the hours count down, Graham must fight against both Stanford and his own addictions if he is to save his son's life.
Rather hysterical but engrossing and very well-acted melodrama (particularly by Michael Redgrave, a BAFTA nominee, and Leo McKern), ostensibly a murder mystery but with a manifest position against capital punishment. Interestingly, the culprit is known from the very beginning but, saddled with an alcoholic hero, one is never sure whether he'll be able to prove his son's innocence of murder; the denouement, then, is terrific - as unexpected as it is ironic. Losey's expressionist style (aided by Freddie Francis's chiaroscuro cinematography) is in full sway here: actually, according to film critic Gerard Legrand - writing in "The Movie" - this was the film were the director really came into his own; I can't vouch for that myself since I have yet to watch three important films he made earlier i.e. THE PROWLER (1951) and M (1951), both Hollywood productions, and THE SLEEPING TIGER (1954), Losey's first effort following his relocation to Britain. It's undeniably a powerful film though relatively verbose (it was adapted from a play by Emlyn Williams); like I said, Losey drives his actors to fever pitch and he has chosen a most capable cast - including Ann Todd, Alec McCowen, Peter Cushing, Renee' Houston, Lois Maxwell, Joan Plowright, Peter Copley and Richard Wordsworth! The only false note throughout, perhaps, is to be found in the score by Tristram Cary - which is so over-the-top that, at times, it even drowns out the dialogue! --imdb.com
I finally caught this interesting little film about six months ago on Turner Classic films. This is based on one of Emlyn Williams twisty murder plays (like his classic, NIGHT MUST FALL). Here we have Michael Redgrave as the father of Alec MacGowan (who is on death row) trying to find out who actually committed the murder his son is charged with. Redgrave is an alcoholic, and a failed parent, and his every effort is stymied by hostility and stonewalling. But slowly he realizes that the guilty party is a millionaire car manufacturer played by Leo McKern. Peter Cushing also appears, as the solicitor who gradually becomes convinced that Redgrave knows what he's talking about (a welcome normal role for the horror film star). I recommend the film, particularly for the ironic way that Redgrave finally turns the tables on McKern, making it impossible for McKern to escape punishment. --imdb.com