Samuel Leeman (Anthony Newley) – who goes by the name Sammy Lee – is the comic MC at a seedy Soho strip joint called the Peepshow Club who is constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the bookies to whom he owes money – all the time digging himself deeper and deeper into trouble.
The main plot concerns Sammy’s attempt to raise £300 to pay off a debt to a mysterious unseen bookie called “Connor”. But Connor has henchmen, and they are quickly dispatched when Sammy admits he doesn’t have the money.
Surprisingly, the main henchman, Fred (Kenneth J. Warren) is sympathetic to Sammy’s pleadings and gives him several hours to scrape up the cash and the rest of the film is concerned with Sammy’s machinations.
The hours pass with Sammy desperately fixing up shady deals, in between his compere duties at the club, and gaining a few pounds here and there towards the formidable £300 total.
A girl from the North who Sammy met at a holiday camp turns up at The Peepshow. Her name is Patsy (Julia Foster) and she quickly discovers that Sammy is not the big-time showman he cracked himself up to be. Later on, she lets the club’s lecherous proprietor Gerry (Robert Stephens) smart-talk her into one of his strip acts because she has heard of Sammy’s plight and pathetically tries to help him.
Sammy’s situation becomes more and more desperate and he tries to get help from his brother Lou (Warren Mitchell) who runs a successful delicatessen. Lou has a deep affection for his brother and would have lent him the money except for the untimely arrival of Lou’s wife, Milly (Miriam Karlin) who won’t permit their hard-earned profits to be poured into bookies’ pockets.
With the help of his dresser, Harry (Wilfrid Brambell), Sammy feverishly plunges into various rackets, including American whiskey deals and even dope pedalling. The excitement mounts as the hands of the clock move inexorably towards the time when Connor’s thugs will be back to collect – or else . . .
There is suspense, high drama and heartbreak in this story. Beautifully photographed in black and white, the addition of location filming in Soho, London, gave the film a murky, underworld feel which suits the storyline perfectly.
Sammy ‘Lee’ Leeman
Kenneth J. Warren
Clive Colin Bowler
Maurice ‘Morrie’ Bellman