Tag Archives: Dudley Sutton

The Walking Stick (1970)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Polio victim becomes pawn.

Deborah (Samantha Eggar) is a shy, lonely woman who suffered from polio as a young girl and now must rely on the use of a cane to get around. She still lives with her parents while suffering from claustrophobic tendencies due to being locked inside an iron lung as a child. She meets Leigh (David Hemmings) a struggling artist at a party and he asks her out. Initially she resists his advances, but eventually gives in. The two form a tight bound and even move in together, but her fairytale romance is short-lived once she realizes that she’s been pegged as a pawn and simply used by his gang for her inside knowledge of the auction house where she works to pull off a daring robbery.

The film, which is based on the novel by Winston Graham, is quite leisurely paced. To a degree I didn’t find this to be a problem as it still managed to hold my interest, but too much time is spent on the romance making it seem more like a drama.

The robbery and its planning doesn’t come into play until well over an hour in and seems like a whole different movie altogether. Certain hints should’ve been brought in from the beginning to make it clear to the viewer that despite all the romance this was still meant to be a thriller, which is just not obvious at all. The crime scenes do at least provide some action and quick edits, which normally would’ve made it exciting, but because it takes so long to get there it comes off as off-putting instead. The intended tension doesn’t work because we are less concerned if Leigh and his gang are going to get away with it and more upset at seeing Deborah being taken advantage of.

Eggar gives an outstanding performance and seeing this normally effervescent woman wearing a perpetual frown seemed almost startling, but she conveys her characters inner unhappiness quite well and mostly through her facial expressions alone. However, her character is also quite cold and acerbic. To a degree this is understandable as it’s clearly just a defense, but the viewer never sees enough of her softer side and therefore doesn’t emotional bond with her as they should.

Hemming’s more outgoing personality creates a nice contrast to Eggar’s introverted one, but his character is pretty benign. Dudley Sutton who plays his cohort would’ve made a better boyfriend as he is good at showing a dark side and would’ve kept the viewer more on edge.

The ending doesn’t provide any type of clear wrap-up and leaves a lot of loose ends hanging, which is a pity. The production values are decent and I liked the flashback scenes showing Debora being put into an iron lung, which is the film’s best cinematic moments, but the pace needed to be tighter with more emphasis placed on the story’s twists and turns.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: April 15, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated GP

Director: Eric Till

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD-R (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video

The Leather Boys (1964)

leather boys 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Befriending a gay biker.

Reggie and Dot (Colin Campbell, Rita Tushingham) are young and in love, at least they think they are. They want to rush off and get married, but Reggie’s father (Lockwood West) feels that they ‘don’t know the meaning of the word’ and he gets proven right as immediately after they tie the knot they are at odds with each other. Reggie begins looking for companionship elsewhere and meets up with a fellow biker named Pete (Dudley Sutton). Pete and Reggie quickly become best friends and begin hanging out together, but Pete is secretly gay and has more of an interest in Reggie than just a friendship.

Director Sidney J. Furie, whose career has now spanned 6 decades, has done a lot of duds in his time, but this isn’t one of them. The stark black-and-white photography helps bring out the bleak working class existence of the characters and the variety of locales used including a nicely captured cross country motorbike race make the story captivating and believable.

The performances are outstanding. Tushingham is especially good at displaying a genuinely nasty side to her character at the most unexpected times. Gladys Henson, who plays the widowed grandmother, is also excellent and the scene where the others argue while right in front of her about how they consider her to be ‘an elderly inconvenience’ who needs to be sent away to a retirement home is downright heart wrenching. Sutton though is the most dynamic in a risky role that helped jettison him to stardom. His distinctive facial features galvanize the viewer’s attention and the ambivalent expressions that he makes particularly when in the presence of Dot are priceless.

Spoiler Alert!

The film though takes too long to get to its obvious conclusion as we have a pretty good idea from the beginning that Pete is gay, so having to wait until the very end for this to finally get revealed seems to be stretching the story out longer than necessary. Most likely Pete would’ve made some sort of pass at Reggie at some point earlier anyways especially since the men shared the same bed. The film also ends with Reggie walking away from Pete and essentially ‘abandoning’ him once he realizes that he is gay. The music that is played over the scene conveys the idea that this is the ‘right’ thing to do and parlays the conventional attitude of the time that there is something ‘wrong’ with Pete, which doesn’t make this as much of a landmark movie as it’s widely considered since its ultimate message is still entrenched with the biases and bigotry of that era.

End of Spoiler Alert!

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: March 8, 1964

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Sidney J. Furie

Studio: Allied Artists

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video