170. The Squeeze (GB 1977)


Alcoholic ex-cop takes on the gangsters in the mean streets of South London.  

director: Michael Apted

starring: Stacey Keach, Stephen Boyd, David Hemmings, Freddie Starr

Fact: Director Michael Apted was responsible for the '7 Up' series of documentaries for Granada.

Lie: Director Michael Apted was completely obsessed with tv presenter Michael Aspel, going so far as to change his name by deed poll to match his hero in every way. Apted's dislexia, however, prevented him from fully realising his dream

Stacey Keach plays the ex-cop. Freddie Starr plays the ex-con (once nicked by Keach) who looks after his interests (one or two suggestions that Fred is in love with Stace) in a Huggy Bear/Sancho Panza/Minder sort of way.

The script is in fact by Minder creator Leon Griffith and is a completely different in tone from the relatively cozy, hermetically sealed world of Arthur and Terry (although I seem to remember that Minder had a darker edge when it first started; although that might have been a dream I once had.

The Squeeze depicts a world of abuse and abusers, where criminal low and high lifes corrupt and disfigure society on all levels. At the top of the chain is a major league Belfast gangster (played with real venom by Ben Hur star Stephen Boyd) whose viciousness has helped him to live a genteel but nouveau riche life of plenty as flawed but decent ex-cop flounders in poverty and addiction. Boyd’s men kidnap Keach’s daughter and ex-wife and in another juxtaposition we see Boyd’s daughter on horseback at a country show point-to-point whilst Keach’s daughter languishes in a miserable kidnapper’s hideaway. 

 Freddie Starr as the prototype stereotyped Scouse robber provides the few laughs in a fairly unremittingly grim film. Starr delivers the film’s grubbiest 
line (there are many) when in a fit of petulance he insults Keach’s naked woman friend by announcing: 

“You’ve got a blackhead on your arse!”

You put 'Stephen Boyd' into the search engine, and you end up with this. Fookin' hell!

It’s ages since I’ve been embarrassed when watching a film (see ‘Don’t Look Now’) but there’s a scene where Carl White has to strip for the David Hemmings led group of kidnappers that will have you asking the ‘your parents’ question you hoped you’d never have to ask:

“I wonder if there’s anything else on the other side?” (This in an era of 200+ channels.)

A good but unsavoury film. You’ll definitely need a shower (in Domestos) after watching The Squeeze.