Saturday, 11 January 2020

Cosh Boy (1953)

         Lewis Gilbert's tale of juvenile delinquents causing mayhem in post-war London gets a dual format DVD and Blu-ray presentation as the 40th release in the BFI's tremendous Flipside series.

        Teenager Roy (James Kenney) is a complete bastard. When he's not being rude to his granny, forgetting his mum's birthday or beating up old ladies to get their handbags he's ruthlessly seducing 16 year old Rene (Joan Collins) and driving her to attempting suicide when he finds out she's pregnant. He and his gang go on a series of crime sprees that escalate to the point where firearms are involved, and it's not long before Roy's entire world collapses in on him.

Opening with the kind of ballyhoo prologue statement that we'd still be seeing twenty years later in Pete Walker's 1973 HOUSE OF WHIPCORD, before we even get to the credits COSH BOY is warning us of the dangers that juvenile delinquency might escalate to in this country if strict discipline is not instigated. Of course translated that means 'You are about to see a smashing film', and COSH BOY is nothing if not salacious and edgy for its period. Indeed, while other BFI Flipside release from the era like BEAT GIRL now seem like harmless silliness, COSH BOY, for all its breathless 'ripped from today's headlines' X-certificate adult-entertainment content is still remarkably grim underneath, depicting a country that has lost so many of its men in the war that the younger generation, and as a consequence society as a whole, had been affected immensely as a result. 

Hammer fans will note the presence of several key personnel in the credits. COSH BOY is photographed by Jack Asher, Anthony Nelson-Keyes was production supervisor and the music director is Phillip Martell. Perhaps most interesting  of all is the production design by Bernard Robinson, whose backstreet sets here echo some of the work he would later do for Hammer. 

The BFI's HD transfer of COSH BOY looks excellent, with a clean, sparkling print. Extras include some Lewis Gilbert shorter subjects - THE TEN YEAR PLAN (1945 with Charles Hawtrey), JOHNNY ON THE RUN (1953 for the Children's Film Foundation) and musical comedy HARMONY LANE (1954).
You also get STRANGER IN THE CITY (1961) a short film from director Robert Hartford-Davis (CORRUPTION) about Soho, TEDDY BOYS (1956) and an interview with Ian Whitaker who plays one of the cosh boys. The first pressing also gets a smart little booklet with new writing on the film.

Lewis Gilbert's COSH BOY is out on Blu-ray and DVD from BFI Flipside on Monday 20th January 2020

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