…when the perfect plan for robbery and return to the loot goes wrong.
When George Nader’s Universal contract ended, he went to London to start work on the noir Nowhere to Go (1958). The film begins with a jazzy soundtrack which then blends with a prison alarm bell to signal Paul Gregory’s (George Nader) well-orchestrated escape. As Nader settles into his new apartment, we learn through flashback how he ran afoul of the law. His scheme involves romancing an older widow, a woman who came to England to sell her husband’s rare coin collection. Once Nader patiently, successfully gains the woman’s trust, she allows him to acts as her selling agent, so he sends her away for a weekend, sells her coins for cash, hides that cash, and then gets himself arrested. Yes you read correctly, getting caught is part of Nader’s plan, because he’s done the math, and in his formula a few years in prison is worth doing. His plan is to get out and have freedom and easy access to the cash when he’s done. Seems perfect, but this is noir after all, so you’re correct to have that uneasy feeling about Nader’s “perfect” plan.
For Nader, supreme confidence grows rapidly into full-blown panic once all the things he didn’t count on start happening. First, his double crossing partner (Bernard Lee, who was in the excellent UK noir the Blue Lamp, but is certainly best known as “M” in the James Bond pictures) gets greedy and sends Nader’s safe deposit box key to postal oblivion. Nader and his money become further separated through bad timing, rooftop chases, misplaced trust in quirky characters, and a deadly mistake. Turned away even by a crime kingpin, Nader truly has nowhere left to go, so he turns to socialite Maggie Smith (this was her first major role). Smith manages to get him to a remote hiding place near her family home in Wales, but as the old adage (or one I just made up) goes, there is no Welsh cottage remote enough to hide from Fate.
Nader was ill with the Asian flu during the shoot, but you’d never know it–he cuts a dashing figure, so self-assured, perfectly coiffed, cold, composed, calculating, and deliberate. So smug when everything goes according to plan, much more human and sympathetic once things fall apart and he’s thrown off his game. Nowhere to Go is bleak and beautiful, a slick slide into despair. And if a jackdaw and a ball is your idea of thrilling nightclub entertainment, then you are in for a bonus treat.
This has been a flashback review, previously published in The Dark Pages
1st image source