Beryl and The Croucher
The latest Talking Pictures TV film worth a viewing is the 1949 effort No Way Back. It falls into the ‘Spiv’ crime thriller category of pictures that were made just after WWII, but this one has something a little extra in it.
‘Starring’ (and co-written by) Terence De Marney and produced by his brother Derrick, it is set in the world of the London boxing ring where De Marney as an over the hill veteran boxer known as ‘The Croucher’. The pugilist after too many fights ends up having to retire due to his bad eye and barely has he told his girlfriend (Shirley Quentin) the bad news, when she in a heart breath has dropped him-leaving him without a career or a girl.
The Croucher easily falls into the gutter drinking in bars until almost by accident he comes into contact with the real Star of the film –the excellent Eleanor Summerfield as his first love (Beryl). Beryl like The Croucher has fallen into bad ways- she is effectively small time hustler Joe Sleet’s (Jack Raine) moll.
Before long The Croucher and Beryl rekindle their friendship and love for each other and there seems hope for the two until Sleet decides to involve The Croucher in a botched jewellery raid. Sleet, Beryl and The Croucher end up going on the run and leaving our twosome to decide whether to fight on or go down in a blaze of glory.
In a lot of ways, No Way Back has echoes of Marty (1955) and Rocky (1976) that would follow in the decades to come. Two people who Life has not dealt any kind cards to and who both fall into bad ways, but want to improve themselves if they can.
De Marney comes over as a pretty wooden actor but he did make out for himself a fruitful career in Hollywood in the 1950s & 1960’s in TV fare such as Bonanza and Wagon Train, before ending his career in familiar UK offerings such as Dr Who and Z Cars before an untimely and accidental death on the tube.
Summerfield though is the real reason to watch No Way Back- she makes Beryl and The Croucher an appealing couple and you do root for them because of her. She was always a very accomplished actress and always worth watching in films such as Dentist in the Chair, Petticoat Pirates and The Watcher in the Woods. She did some fine work in the theatre too and a regular home for her was the ‘Players Theatre’ at London’s Charing Cross. She married The Good Old Day’s popular and verbose host Lionel Sachs.