Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Bellman and True

(UK, 1987)

When I learned that this had been cut down from a 150-minute TV series to a 117-minute theatrical release, a few things became clearer. Namely, why much of it seems so disjointed. It’s probably why a movie that had so many good parts in it just never quite came together for me. A systems engineer and computer expert (Bernard Hill, using a computer that is laughably antique these days) is kidnapped along with his stepson and forced to find a way past the security systems and into the most secure bank in England. There’s 14 million pounds in there, and this motley gang of cockneys is determined to get it. They threaten to kill the boy unless the man cooperates. The plan is ingenious … and then their only apparent escape plan is to get in a Jaguar and drive like hell. It’s a funny scene, especially when the driver is determined to force the car through a space about a foot too narrow, and eventually does, but still, it’s dumb. A prostitute the gang hires to look after the boy while the two are imprisoned—and thus is complicit in the possible murder of a child—gets up on her high moral horse at the end. The bitch doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on, am I the only one who notices that? Maybe the missing 33 minutes would have made some of this stuff clearer. As it is, I enjoyed quite a lot of it, particularly the ending. But I must also warn you, some British movies really ought to come with subtitles for the Brit-English-impaired, and this one doesn’t. I missed a lot of the cockney lines.