Criminal Paul Gregory sells a widow’s rare coins and stashes the money in a safe deposit box, hoping to return to it after a short prison sentence. When he is sent down for longer than expected, ‘Greg’ breaks out of prison and must try and recover the money, whilst staying one step ahead of both the police and his underworld cronies. Looking for a way out he crosses paths with Bridget, a young woman with a bad taste in men, and together they go on the run.
Released in truncated form in 1958, Nowhere To Go finally receives a full DVD release in January 2013, with the fifteen minutes excised to make it fit a double-bill reinstated. This film has been hailed as a lost classic, and while I wouldn’t bestow such high praise upon it, there are several noteworthy aspects to the production. It is a rather strange beast; an Ealing film, but one which sits awkwardly alongside the rest of the canon. Its plot of charismatic criminal on the run with a beguiling and unreadable young woman prefigures Godard’s A Bout de Souffle, as does the jazz soundtrack.
George Nader’s Greg doesn’t quite have the roguish charm of Jean-Paul Belmondo, but still effortlessly gets you on side. Dame Maggie Smith, making her first film appearance, is initially rather underwhelming as Bridget, but soon warms up and displays the star quality which she still exudes today. The look and to some extent structure of the film prefigure director Seth Holt’s minor Hammer classic The Nanny, but the jazz soundtrack is an idiosyncratic touch.
There are some fantastic visually inventive moments, with one sequence using angel chimes a wittily surreal stand-out, and some nicely Expressionist-style framing in the conclusion. On the down side, Nowhere To Go feels oddly muted, and lacks a real sense of threat. It also suffers from an uneven tone; half kitchen sink drama and half cheeky European crime thriller.
The cut of the film presented on DVD is beautiful, the sharp black and white in pristine condition. Sadly the disc only contains one extra, a short documentary composed of interviews with various crew members. While crew reminiscences are always fascinating, here they do not go into much depth, and it would have been great to hear Dame Maggie’s take on the film.