British Melodrama and crime thriller that follows a group of jewel robbers after a major heist. The film makes extensive use of bombed out areas of London.
Diamonds are not forever. The Secret Place is directed by Clive Donner and written by Linette Perry. It stars Belinda Lee, Ronald Lewis, Michael Brooke, Michael Gwynn, Geoffrey Keen and David McCallum. Music is by Clifton Parker and cinematography by Ernest Steward, Little seen and heard of piece of British noir, The Secret Place sits somewhere in between good and frustrating. Plot involves London crooks enacting a gems robbery and finding themselves at the mercy of an adolescent boy and his secret place. First and foremost the pluses here far outweigh the negatives. The cast list is a veritable roll call of British actors who need no introduction to fans of British film and TV. The cinematography on show is perpetually film noir in look, where cinematographer Steward (The 39 Steps/Payroll) fills 90% of the pic with monochrome menace and dark cloaked actions. The robbery at the center of the tale is suspenseful and has a cheeky glint in its eye, and with the cast on form - bolstered by an excellent child acting turn from Brooke, production value from London locales is bang on the money. However, the pacing of the pic is an issue, where as much as you want some depth to characterisations, the back and forward expansion of the key players takes up the bulk of the running time. It's also sad to report that the finale just fizzles out as a damp squib, almost as if the Hays Code was still in force and thriving in Britain! Is there still enough to keep this above average? Yes, definitely, but it's not a hidden gem by any stretch of the imagination. 6/10
OK, so it does sag somewhat in the middle - but otherwise this is quite a well paced crime drama that sees "Molly" (Belinda Lee) caught up in a plan by her friend "Gerry" (Ronald Lewis) that ensnares her impressionable brother "Mike" (David McCallum) and her even more impressionable young fan "Freddie" (Michael Brooke) into a daring diamond robbery. Turns out the youngster's dad is a policeman, and when he procures - unwittingly - a police uniform to assist the gang with their robbery; things begin to close in on "Molly", "Gerry" and the honest young man who happens upon the stones... There's not a great deal of jeopardy here - we sort of know from the outset what is going to happen, but Lee and the young Brooke are on good form and it shows us quite an interesting perspective on a still recovering post-war London populated by petty gangs and small time thieves who could be pretty brutal as required. It's a bit long and wordy - it could do with a bit more action, but it's got a tight cast with a decent plot that kills 90 minutes easily enough.