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Straight on Till Morning (1972)

Shy, dowdy and socially awkward Brenda Thompson (Rita Tushingham) writes naive children’s stories to amuse herself. Stifled and desperate for a man of her own, she leaves Liverpool, telling her mother (Clare Kelly) she’s pregnant and gets a job in a trendy boutique in London.

Brenda moves in with the promiscuous but good-hearted Caroline (Katya Wyeth) but the groovy set shuns her for her plain looks. Then she kidnaps a handsome young blonde man’s dog, so she can get to know him when returning it to the address on the collar.

The foppish young man turns out to be Peter (Shane Briant), a psychopath with a predilection for killing beautiful things, whose real name is Clive. He renames Brenda “Wendy”, she moves in with him, and they start a hopeful if strange, relationship. Both are clearly mentally troubled and the bizarre relationship can surely only end badly . . .

After stabbing his dog (“Tinker”) to death with a Stanley knife and bedding (then killing her former flatmate), Caroline, Peter decides to reveal all to Brenda.

Straight on Till Morning is something of an oddity from Hammer Films, although it’s fab to see 1970s London, which looks simultaneously grotty and groovy. The pacing is slow but deliberate, and the shocks are fairly infrequent – but powerful and disturbing when they come. The climax is literally breathtaking and hugely depressing.

Released in some markets as Dressed for Death, Till Dawn Do Us Part and The Victim.

Brenda Thompson
Rita Tushingham
Peter (Clive)
Shane Briant
James Bolam
Katya Wyeth
Annie Ross
Jimmy Lindsay
Tom Bell
Margo Thompson
Clare Kelly
Mr Harris
Harold Berens
John Clive
Mr Godfrey
Tommy Godfrey
Indian Princess
Mavis Villiers

Peter Collinson