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During post-war England, a young petty crook, Jackie Knowles, is on probation for committing petty crimes. Jackie wants to marry his girlfriend Kitty but they don't have enough money to live on. Jackie foolishly accepts to be the getaway driver for a robbery job. The robbery goes wrong and Jackie is arrested. Because of his previous probation breach, the judge sentences him to three years in a Borstal institution. In the UK, the Borstal institutions are trying to rehabilitate rather than punish young offenders. Jackie Knowles arrives at a Borstal institution run by a sympathetic governor. Initially, Jackie intends to keep his nose clean, do his time and get out. Unfortunatelly, he falls in with a crowd planning to escape. The wrong crowd is run by scheming Welsh boy Alfie Rawlins who senses Jackie's naiveté and innocence. Alfie manipulates Jackie into wanting to join his group by playing on Jackie's anxiety about his girlfriend, Kitty. Alfie lies that Kitty already has forgotten about...Written by
Some great British actors were building their career foundations in this drama about the pressures of life both inside and outside a Borstal reform institution. In particular, Dirk Bogarde makes an excellent scheming manipulator of his fellow inmates while Richard Attenborough is his naive prey.
The Borstal governor and his staff lament that the young men in their charge won't try harder to become good citizens, while the young inmates themselves can't see beyond peer pressure and adolescent rebellion - that much at least hasn't changed since 1949.
But the passage of time has not served this movie well. Its main interest now is historical, in the very early performances of future superstars and in documenting a vanished way of British life and values. We've all seen a multitude of tough prison movies made in later years and in their light this one seems rather pale.
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