Directed by Cavalcanti; produced by Victor Skutezky
A young man (Stephen Murray), hoping to be a writer, takes to heart the criticism that he has not lived enough to write properly. To correct that flaw, he visits a working-class district of London – in the time-honoured belief that only the poor actually live – and becomes involved with a likeable but promiscuous girl (Rosalyn Boulter). She has a couple of other boyfriends, including a happy-go-lucky thief (Richard Todd) and a brutal railway fireman (Michael Laurence). When the latter thinks his girl has been unfaithful, a crime is committed, and while the would-be author is the cause, it’s the innocent thief who suffers.
Part crime story and part character study, For Them That Trespass (I am still pondering the grammar of that title) is not strong enough in its two forms to succeed entirely as either. It also switches its point of view about a third of the way through, abandoning the effete and bland Murray as protagonist for the more interesting and hearty Todd. This does improve matters, though it also alters the direction of the story. Instead of a tale about a man mired in trouble because of his intrusion in an alien world, it becomes a search for justice, of a man seeking to right the wrongs done him. These are the two forms of ‘trespass’ mentioned in the title.
Undoubtedly the writers intended the change in direction and tone, wanting Murray’s character to cause the difficulties, however inadvertently, and then depart, the effects of his misadventures forgotten in his rise to fame. Todd’s character, meanwhile, is shown suffering the consequences of another man’s actions. This gives the impression, though, of a preamble half as long as the body of the story. That story, moreover, while keeping the viewer’s attention, is not particularly original.
The acting is uneven. It is clearly seen why Murray, given top billing, became largely forgotten, despite his radio and theatre work, while Todd went on to become a very popular movie performer. This was the latter’s first credited role (“Introducing Richard Todd”). I have seen several films lately with actors “introduced” in the credits, and this is the first from which the actor in question went on to bigger and better things. The supporting players are a mixed lot; for example Laurence is wooden, while Patricia Plunkett, as the woman who stands by Todd, is lively and believable. Kenneth More has a very small part as a prison warder.
For Them That Trespass, therefore, is a jumble of good, bad and indifferent. The good items are certainly there to be found, but are too few and widely scattered to make the movie a good bargain.