Adapted from a bestseller by Norman Collins and set in a typical house in a typical street, the plot depicts the struggles and hopes of a group of ordinary people.
They include a benign old couple with their attractive daughter, a widowed mother with her only son, a faded blonde who ekes out a pittance at a nightclub, and the landlady herself, slightly soured but almost falling for a fake spiritualist. All lead a humdrum existence until a young lad in his desire to make some easy money and court the girl downstairs, gets involved in a murder and is sentenced to death.
Until then it has been a vigorous piece of melodrama, tense and exciting, and up to the standard expected from the Launder-Gilliat team. But without warning, and in questionable taste, the tempo changes and the organizing of a petition to save the life of the boy is treated as something meant to be hilariously funny.
With its excellent characterizations, its meaty story and fine London backgrounds it should have been a firstrate thriller. But it isn’t.
An exceptionally big cast handles the characterizations with skill, but top honors go to Richard Attenborough, living the part of the flashy youngster who wants to go places the easy way, and Alistair Sim, who just can’t miss as the fake medium. [Uncredited opening narration by Leo Genn.]