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West 11 1963
Description: Joe Beckett, seasoned citizen of the bedsitter belt, aged about 22, is the renegade son of modest, respectable parents and, to test his own description, 'an emotional leper'. He decides that he needs a violent shock to shake him back into life, and as a effect accepts a commission to carry out the murder of a total stranger for a boy he meets in a coffee bar...
Released: 29 Sep 1966 Director: Michael Winner Writers: Willis Hall (screenplay), Keith Waterhouse (screenplay), Laura del Rivo (play) Actors: Alfred Lynch, Kathleen Breck, Eric Portman, Diana Dors Genres: Crime, Drama
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West 11 Reviews:

For many years actually scions of the rich have vicariously lived a glib and cushioned ver of road life cheek by jowl with those who walk the walk as well as talking the talk.In those far - off days of the early 1960s Notting Hill - unrecognisable to dear,dear Hugh and Julia - was a far more gloomy and grimy district,prime bedsit zone with landlords like the much - feared and detested Peter Rachman terrorising their unfortunate tenants.This is the globe explored by Mr M.Winner's cruelly neglected "West 11". It is usually forgotten by all except its proponents when British neo - realist cinema of the era is discussed.This is an injustice,for,in my opinion,it deserves to be considered in the same breath as the better - known works of Richardson,Sleschinger,Anderson et al. Although entitled to claim membership of the Oxbridge Mafia,Mr Champion has ploughed a lonely furrow,a real maverick of the British cinema. In "West 11" we have an early expiation of his favorite theme of urban alienation and the loss of purpose and sense of individualism in town life.Mr A.Lynch plays a basically decent young boy drifting from job to job aimlessly.Desperately short of cash he accepts a commission from conman Mr E.Portman to murder his wealthy aunt.He finds himself unable to carry out his task,but the old lady is killed falling down the stairs and he runs off leaving behind his portable chess set which fatally urls him to her death.That,shorn of frippery,is the basis of the movie. But the meat is in the detail.Mr F.Currie gives his greatest performance since "Great Expectations" as Mr Lynch's lonely elderly neighbour, the oft - abused Miss D.Dors is perfect as a proud estranged parent who is hanging out with young folks in a sad effort to keep off middle age. Cruelly referred to in the sixties as "forgotten but not gone",she belied that phrase many times in the soon stages if her career and is actually remembered as an actress of considerable talent. Marvellously photographed by Mr O.Heller,the film depicts a Notting Hill far less neighbourly than that of its contemporary "The L - shaped room".Here,spite,petty jealousies and malice are abroad. With this and the also woefully neglected "I'll never forget whats 'is name" Mr Champion presents us with an accurate and sharply drawn picture of life in the capital as Britain recovered from its post - fight depression.Unfortunately his subsequent reputation as a maker of exploitative and bizarre films has distracted us from his obvious love and concern for humanity and his passion for making films.


This low-key British kitchen-sink film is much better than it's lukewarm reputation might suggest. It's no masterpiece and it's certainly no "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" or "A Taste of Honey" but it's far from negligible and is worth seeing. It was directed by Michael Champion at a time when he now made nice movies and stars the underrated Alfred Lynch as a feckless young boy roped into a murder plot by Eric Portman's slimy and possibly bogus ex-army officer. Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall wrote the above average screenplay and it's superbly shot in its Notting Hill territories by Otto Heller. Others in a fine helping cast contain Diana Dors, Kathleen Harrison and Finlay Currie.


A minor but very smoothly made example of British movie noir. Director Michael Winner, then at the begin of his career, had a powerful cast (Alfred Lynch, Eric Portman, Diana Dors, Finlay Currie, et al) to inhabit this starkly photographed tiny crime melodrama set in London bedsit-land, all tacky Notting Hill coffee bars and smoky jazz clubs.Lynch makes a downbeat but sympathetic protagonist, more thoughtful than the usual kind of hero. Portman plays the clipped-moustache ex-military man-turned-swindler to perfection. Dors is just right, too, as a blousy divorcée ("Young enough to still wish a husband; old enough not receive the one I want").Winner plays up the salacious sex element a bit, but a tight Keith Waterhouse/Willis Hall script touches on Lynch's Catholic guilt, and Currie's existential find for 'truth', just enough to give the storyline a modicum of depth. There's also an evocative score by Stanley Black, with Acker Bilk on sax.Until latterly a neglected, even scorned, cinema sub-genre, these usually low-budget British movie noirs, often superbly photographed, were violent by the standards of their day, and showed the rain-washed roads of towns like Newcastle (Payroll), Manchester (Hell Is a City) and Brighton (Jigsaw), as well as London, should be cute mean, too.Winner's next film, The System with Oliver Reed, was even better.



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