A pitched battle rages as armed police surround well-armed anarchists who are holed up in a flat on Sidney Street in East London.
As this fighting is occurring, an injured young woman reminisces, thinking back to the events that lead her and a group of Russian refugee political anarchists to this situation.
The violence begins during a daring robbery at a Houndsditch jeweller – intended to finance the cause of Russian refugees – that goes wrong with lots of innocent people killed.
Eventually, those responsible are killed by police or their fellow anarchists.
The film is a heavily fictionalised retelling of a real incident – the Battle of Stepney – that occurred in 1911 when a gang of Russian ex-pats engaged in a violent shoot-out with local police at Number 100, Sidney Street.
Peter Wyngarde makes an impressive conspirator, likeable but ruthless as Peter the Painter, and Nicole Berger is soulfully attractive, even though her role is arguably the least necessary one.
Donald Sinden, representing Scotland Yard, wanders through the East End of London so lightly disguised as a down-and-out that he might expect to be accosted at any moment by a fan saying, “Please, Mr Sinden, can I have your autograph?”
The uniformed police seem to have come straight out of The Pirates of Penzance.
The siege scenes notwithstanding, The Siege of Sidney Street is very wordy and drags a bit too much.
Peter the Painter
Robert S. Baker