The Perfect Crime – Cash on Demand (1961)

Hammer Studios best known for its horror output did not only delve into the dark recesses but also comedy, drama and more during their storied output. For Cash on Demand, they would take a step into the world of crime and suspense with Peter Cushing and André Morell facing off against one another, the former a banker and the latter a man who wishes to rob the bank Cushing manages. It would play out in tense and dramatic fashion and be absolutely riveting in its telling.

Cushing would star as Harry Fordyce, a bank manager that most might call severe on a good day. Unfeeling and dour also come to mind and while all of those might describe the man on a good day, he does care about the bank and the service they provide the customers with, thus making for a harsh boss but one that ultimately cares. Two days before Christmas, a man walks in saying he is from their insurance provider, an investigator named Colonel Gore Hepburn characterized by the other player in this game, Morell. He is taken into Fordyce’s office and that is when things really start to get good as true colours are shown and a meticulously planned robbery takes place.

As a crime film, as a character piece and as one might put it, simply good drama, Cash on Demand does it all with little more than a good script, some strong direction and riveting performances not just from the leads of the picture but of those that they are surrounded with. Morrell is slick and comfortable in the role of the villain. He manages to rob the bank with little more than words but they are both so sweet and so deadly that Fordyce is unable to do anything but what they say. Cushing is superb in the role of the manager who goes from frigid bank manager to a man whose been so broken down by the events taking place that his shell has crumbled and he becomes that which he dislikes – emotional. It is an incredible change and to see Cushing essentially become two different people in one movie and it is a credit to his talent that he is able to do so. The chemistry between Morell and Cushing is smooth and natural as they are able to play off of each other with what seems like ease which is important as almost the entirety of the picture involves just the two of them. Following closely behind is Richard Vernon who starred in everything from Village of the Damned to Goldfinger to Gandhi, the number two to Fordyce and the man who is usually subject to all of Fordyce’s biting remarks.

For a good thriller to work, for a good drama to work, they have to be thrilling and they have to be dramatic and it does so here quite perfectly. It might take place in a single setting and feature very few actors but as it rolls along in nearly real-time, it captures the attention of the viewer completely and refuses to let go, namely due to its two headliners. One has to feel sorry for Fordyce after the audience is made to dislike him from the first, the man doing what he has to in order to see his family safe and who can say they would do anything differently? Suffice it to say, this is one of Hammer’s best and well worth the price of admission.

4.5 out of 5

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