John Cummings (Richard Todd), a colourless cosmetics salesman, buys a car to increase his business. But a gang controlled by vain, flashy and two-timing garage owner Lionel Meadows (Peter Sellers, cast against type as the leader of a stolen car racket), pinches it.
Alfie (Mervyn Johns), an old paper-seller, gives Cummings a tip which leads him to street punk Tommy Towers (Adam Faith), a teenage member of Meadows’s mob. Tommy laughs at Cummings and beats up Alfie. but is subsequently taught a severe lesson by Meadows for attracting police attention.
Jackie (Carol White), a comely delinquent living with Meadows, witnesses the incident.
Despite warnings from the police and his wife. Anne (Elizabeth Sellars), Cummings’s search for his car becomes an obsession, which ultimately loses him his job.
Later, Cummings is savagely mauled by Meadows’s thugs, and Jackie leaves Meadows for Tommy.
The insanely jealous Meadows bashes Tommy and Jackie runs away. She is eventually found and helped by Cummings and Anne, and Jackie persuades Tommy to tell Cummings all about the stolen car racket, and the police are informed.
Finally, Cummings traces his jalopy, and he gets the better of Meadows during a terrific fight.
Having achieved his aim, Cummings – bloody but unbowed – drives home and finds Anne waiting for him.
What was intended to be a gritty insight into the brutality of the underworld ends up being a tatty melodrama in this mid-budget misfire from director John Guillermin. Alun Falconer’s script does nobody any favours, with Sellers reduced to embarrassing histrionics in the bid to shed his comic image.
Todd never convinces as the salesman who takes the law into his own hands, while Elizabeth Sellars, as his wife, comes across as a right madam. Adam Faith‘s performance as a Teddy Boy working for the sociopathic car dealer is accomplished enough to banish memories of his pivotal role in Beat Girl (1960).
John Le Mesurier