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  Cry Wolf Believe The Boy
Year: 1968
Director: John Davis
Stars: Anthony Kemp, Mary Burleigh, Martin Beaumont, Judy Cornwell, Eileen Moore, Maurice Kaufman, John Trenaman, Rex Stallings, Alfred Bell, Mary Yeomans, Pat Coombes, Wilfrid Brambell, Adrienne Corri, Walter Gotell, Ian Hendry, Janet Munro
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tony (Anthony Kemp) has an overactive imagination, so naturally it goes into overdrive when his father (Maurice Kaufman) has to deputise for the mayor of their seaside town when a foreign Prime Minister is set to visit. Just having an imaginary dog is not sufficient anymore, now, after reading about a criminal gang in the neighbourhood, he decides the two men he witnessed entering a bank when it was closed are robbers and tries to convince his two friends, Mary (Mary Burleigh) and Martin (Martin Beaumont). The latter is sceptical, knowing Tony all too well, but Mary dials 999 in the nearby telephone box and summons the police... who tell them, on inspection, that the two robbers are in fact surveyors and supposed to be there. Will Tony change his ways?

It's just as well he does not, for this Children's Film Foundation item details the boy's eventual vindication, as he uncovers a plot that has a gang of insurgents trying to kidnap (not assassinate, as you might have expected - that's a bit much for the CFF) that Prime Minister with a gas bomb fired from a nearby courtyard's upper window. Unluckily for Tony, he has two marks against him: everyone knows he is a compulsive liar (hence the title) and the bad guys have an ace up their sleeve, a Mini Moke-driving bad girl, Stella, played by Judy Cornwell. If you only knew her from her latter-day sitcom roles in Keeping Up Appearances and the like, you may be surprised to see her as the glamorous spy here, posing as a photographer thanks to a camera that actually conceals a radio to communicate with her cohorts at a distance.

There then followed a game of cat and mouse, as Tony initially trusts Stella when she says she believes his story (of course she does!) until they go back to her apartment on the seafront where he then realises she plans to knock him out with a cola-flavoured Mickey Finn. Luckily an interruption from cleaning lady Pat Coombes (who else?) enables him to get away, and what has come across like a junior James Bond adventure shows its true colours as something more akin to Alfred Hitchcock for kids, with Tony as the wrong man, or boy, evading capture by the villainess with the help of his two friends, who are eventually convinced. Director John Davis managed to secure the services of some stars in cameos, most notably Janet Munro in what would be her final film role before her passing, but also her husband Ian Hendry, actual spy movie fixture Walter Gotell (with his name misspelled in the credits), and A Clockwork Orange's Adrienne Corri. All in all, a pacey little thriller with some nice seaside locations for visual interest.

[This is available with eight other CFF films on the BFI's Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3, all on DVDs packed with extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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