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Scarlet Thread
IMDB Rating: 5.3/10 from 58 votes
Release: May 1951 (UK) /

Scarlet Thread

Genre: Drama
Director: Lewis Gilbert,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Two villains team up to steal some jewelry. The robbery goes wrong and an innocent man is shot.

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Critic Reviews


Well you could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw that this one was without 5 votes at the time of comment. I caught it on UK TV (BBC2) last night as part of a season that they are doing of great British films.

Basically the film is about an upper class jewel thief Marcon and the oikish pickpocket Freddie who becomes his protégé. Early on in the movie Freddie saves Marcon's life. After this and clearly against his better judgement Marcon feels a sort of responsibility for Freddie and decides to do a job with him. Freddie is mercurial, and unlike the blue-blood Marcon does not know when the boat should not be rocked. He's got a caveman type thang for the ladies and is not averse to the odd tantrum.

They commit a bungled jewel heist in Cambridge and have to make off on foot. They run into one of the colleges and hide in the garden of the Master's lodge. They talk their way into staying the night with Josephine, the Master's daughter who is not aware that anything is afoot. Josephine is the most interesting character, a lady whom the audience of the time would certainly have identified with. She has grown weary of the softly-dripping peace of Cambridge and her bespectacled don suitor. She's looking for a more racy life, she's bought a ticket on the ride and wants her money's worth so to speak. Cue Freddy who moves through the gears in no time impressing her with his cinema-learnt American accent and lingo.

Josephine as played by Kathleen Byron is what we in Britain would call a fox. Her skin is like alabaster and her bosom full and on permanent display. There is not even the mark of a scowl on her face, she's a classy lady. It is after her that the movie is titled, quoting from the Song of Solomon 4:3 "Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, And thy mouth is comely." She comes by the end of the movie to realise that flings with Freddies are not quite all they're cracked up to be. But I won't spoil that for you.

There is in this film some of the raciest innuendo that I've ever seen even in modern movies, and it's all quite carefully disguised. That for me was the added value. There is also a quite noirish sentiment, education is shown off as the luxuriant pursuit of the fop. If this had been an American-made film it would certainly be called noir. It's a very enjoyable little film, not quite as coherent or stylised as the great movies, but a high-calibre matinée that one can't quite fail to enjoy. 8/10

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