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  All Coppers Are... The Longest Arm Of The Law
Year: 1972
Director: Sidney Hayers
Stars: Martin Potter, Julia Foster, Nicky Henson, Wendy Allnutt, Sandra Dorne, Glynn Edwards, Queenie Watts, Eddie Byrne, Norman Jones, David Baxter, Carmel McSharry, David Essex, Robin Askwith, Tony Wright, Marianne Stone, Ian Hendry
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Joe (Martin Potter) is a policeman in the Battersea area of London, pounding the beat and picking up the lowlifes who he crosses paths with, such as this likely lad (Robin Askwith) who he interrupts breaking into a car and trying to steal the radio. A foot chase ensues, and the thief is finally brought down around the train yards, though now Joe has to go through the rigmarole of bringing him in and seeing if he can get the boy sentenced. For that reason, he is late home, much to the chagrin of his wife Peg (Wendy Allnutt) who wants them to get out to a wedding reception of her friend; he doesn't want to go, but maybe he should...

"All Coppers Are Bastards" is what this was actually called, but the opening titles had the name written on a wall with the expletive deleted, though later we see it reinstated and Askwith has the duty of snarling the words through his cell door. This somewhat forthright moniker was the jumping off point for some melodramatic ruminations on that theme: was Joe a bastard, then? Or was he merely a good guy trying to do his best for his community (though in truth, he doesn't sound very Battersea - blame drama school)? Basically, does he deserve the wariness everyone around him feels? And is he cannon fodder used by the higher-ups?

But Joe was not the only lead here, in fact there were three, and wife Peg wasn't one of them, coming across like a third - or fourth - wheel in the dealings of Joe, budding criminal Barry (Nicky Henson) and the girl they're both interested in, Sue (Julia Foster), who has her own troubled home life to deal with and is seeking an escape. They all have secrets from one another that they gradually reveal: meeting at the wedding, they do a runner with a bottle of champers and a tray of nibbles, and spend possibly the most contented part of the film hanging out, flirting, chatting about nothing in particular, and generally getting on very well in a familiar strangers way.

It cannot last, and on returning to the reception Peg is frosty (no wonder, she's spotted where her hubby was going and who with) and Sue finally objects to how fresh Barry is getting by pouring a glass of bubbly into his lap. But that connection they have made is difficult to shift, and the unspoken yearning to have someone you can be mates with in a society that is growing hostile as the post-Swinging Sixties hangover continues was what fuelled the story. Sue does end up sleeping with both Joe and Barry, and the irony is they would be great friends in other circumstances, Joe not being married with a baby and his job making him a polite outcast until he is actually needed, or Barry planning a heist he thinks he can do alone, but is clearly out of his depth.

Produced by Mr Carry On Peter Rogers, All Coppers Are... was compared with the television police dramas at the time, largely because one of the protagonists is a copper, but it attempted to go a little deeper into character than an hour-long format might afford. One drawback was that as actors, Henson and Foster outshone Potter by some distance, indeed Potter had a somewhat unnerving quality with his cobalt blue eyes making you think Joe had missed his calling as a model, as his co-stars enjoyed a real chemistry, Henson deftly balancing between wide boy charm and throwing up with nerves on the morning of his big crime, and Foster offering the painful realisation she is too good for any of the men in her life, but powerless to do anything about it. Underrated in its day, they do run out of plot at the end, throwing in a riot, for instance, yet this was valid as an update of kitchen sink drama which had moved to television since the nineteen-fifties theatre influence. Music by Eric Rogers.

[Network release this on Blu-ray with interviews with Wendy Allnutt and others, the trailer and an image gallery, as well as subtitles for the hard of hearing.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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