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  Straight On Till Morning You Thought Captain Hook Was Bad
Year: 1972
Director: Peter Collinson
Stars: Rita Tushingham, Shane Briant, James Bolam, Katya Wyeth, Annie Ross, Tom Bell, Claire Kelly, Harold Berens, John Clive, Tommy Godfrey, Mavis Villiers, Lola Willard, Paul Brooke
Genre: Horror, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Brenda Thompson (Rita Tushingham) wishes for one thing in life: a child of her very own. She tells her mother that she is pregnant and that she will have to move out of the family home, leaving her alone as Brenda ventures to London to find a man to look after her baby - but really to find a man to father her baby. After an awkward goodbye, things don't really improve when she reaches the big smoke, and she accidentally bumps into a young man called Peter (Shane Briant) while looking for somewhere to live. She doesn't know it yet, but her destiny is to be with him, for better or worse... much worse.

Straight On Till Morning marked yet another attempt at Hammer to try something new in the seventies, once more not really finding a style to settle on in that new decade, to their eventual detriment. This time it was a variation on their past psychological thrillers. Screenwriter John Peacock scripted the film especially for star Tushingham, and in some ways it's almost a parody of her typical roles, the ugly duckling who never quite makes it as a swan, the poor little working class girl who tries to find her place in the world and ends up, in this case, in a nightmare just when she thought things were working out.

It was the first film for Briant, one of the young actors who Hammer were grooming to take over from their ageing, established stars, and he is at his most self-possessed and composed here, the handsome chap whose glacial looks hide deep, dark undercurrents. Before Brenda gets to know him, she finds a job in a boutique, moving in with co-worker Caroline (Katya Wyeth), a far more glamorous specimen who overshadows her somewhat desperate to please flatmate. Brenda sets her sights on Joey (James Bolam), but has her heart broken when he ends up bedding Caroline, so heads off into the night for a good cry.

On the London streets she meets a little dog called Tinker, who happens to belong to Peter, and he has lost the pooch while out walking him. Although she glimpses Peter calling, Brenda dognaps Tinker and treats him as if he were a child to look after, even plonking him into the bath for a scrub. The next day she tracks down the address on the collar and presents the dog to Peter, is asked in and then has to face some uncomfortable questions such as, seeing as how Peter noticed her take Tinker, what was the real reason she came round with him? And in an emotionally troublesome scene poor Brenda has to admit she wanted him to give her a baby.

Straight On Till Morning begins like a sixties kitchen sink drama and then switches into something out of the French New Wave with cut up editing where we see early on that Peter has killed off his last girlfriend (jazz singer Annie Ross) and is now living in her flat and off her savings. Brenda knows nothing of this until the confused ending, but before that this is a story of two fantasists (they tell fairy stories to themselves and each other) who find one another in an unfriendly modern world only to fall prey to the slight problem that one of them is a psychopath. We feel Brenda might be safe when Peter lets us know, obliquely, that he only kills those he considers beautiful, but who is to tell? With a bizarre ending seeing our heroine tormented by ghastly sounds on a reel to reel tape player, the film is a melancholy experience, not really scary, but you do feel sorry for the unlucky Brenda. What the plentiful Peter Pan allusions mean, however, is none too obvious. Music by Roland Shaw.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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