The Offence

Film Notes #4: The Offence (1972)

Sidney Lumet’s’ dark 1972 feature about a police interrogation forms the fourth instalment of my 30-day film program.

For newcomers, the deal is that I must watch a film every day and make notes about it, with the following rules:

  • It must be a film I’ve already seen.
  • I must make notes whilst I’m watching it.
  • Pauses are allowed but the viewing must all be one session.
  • It can’t be a cinema release.

The point is to capture my instant thoughts about a movie and my overall film diet for 30 days, as well as post interesting links to the film in question.

Here are my notes on The Offence (1972) which I watched on a DVD on Saturday 18th March.

  • Connery was allowed make this film as part of the MGM deal for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1972)
  • Lumet keeps the visuals impressively dark – no obvious day-for-night stuff
  • Great visual motif of the circles of light at the beginning, only becomes clear once you’ve seen the film.
  • Drabness of suburban England is expertly evoked but it is never made clear where the action takes place.
  • The town remains nameless although exteriors were shot in Bracknell and interiors were filmed in Twickenham Studios.
  • Connery is very good indeed – it was a brave film for him to star in at this point in his career.
  • Scene at school near the beginning was shot at Wildridings, Bracknell.
  • Brilliantly effective visuals as the girl goes under the bridge.
  • Connery’s flat is at Point Royal, which is the same place that Jenny Agutter’s character lives in I START COUNTING (1969).
  • Audience are forced to work to see the details in certain scenes.
  • Trevor Howard is also a powerful presence as a senior police officer brought into to investigate Connery.
  • Ian Bannen is brilliant in what must have been a very difficult role to play.
  • Vivienne Merchant also gives a heartbreaking performance as Connery’s long suffering wife.
  • There is dialogue and physical action which even modern writers and directors would shy away from.
  • It is a rare film that deals with the emotional cost of policing, which is still a taboo subject in a world obsessed with the police procedural.
  • Clever flashback structure keeps us guessing but the reveal is disturbing because it doesn’t offer a conventional twist.

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