Dr Clive Riordan (Robert Newton) has a problem. His wife Storm (Sally Gray) is engaged in a dalliance with American Bill Kronin (Phil Brown). How best to deal with it? The only way a post-war British man can: kidnap the adulterer, trap him in a Blitzed building and hold him until you’ve filled a bath with acid to dispose of his body. But then a strange dynamic springs up between the men, with Clive delivering Bill’s daily poison to the bunker in a hot water bottle.
Edward Dmytryk, a master of noir, made this thriller when banished to the UK as a victim of McCarthyism; as a result, it has an outsider’s keen eye for British manners and folly and offers especially insightful commentary on the rise of America and the decline of the British Empire. With a bone-dry wit that masks a chilling premise, this is a darkly humourous story of murder that shows how British men coped with the dawning realisation of post-war impotency. We are very glad to be joined by academic and writer Richard Hornsey, author of The Spiv & The Architect: Unruly Life in Post-War London, for an extended intro to discuss the film’s depiction of London life on the shadowy margins.