Review: ‘The Small World of Sammy Lee’

Originally an award-winning teleplay by Ken Hughes the film has been pumped up to feature length, perhaps at overlength. Though highly overcoloured, it remains a sharp, snide commentary on the sleazy side of Soho, and emerges as a firstclass vehicle for Anthony Newley.

Originally an award-winning teleplay by Ken Hughes the film has been pumped up to feature length, perhaps at overlength. Though highly overcoloured, it remains a sharp, snide commentary on the sleazy side of Soho, and emerges as a firstclass vehicle for Anthony Newley.

Newley, a fugitive from the East End, is the smart-aleck emcee of one a shabby strippery. Between churning out tired, near-blue gags and introducing the peelers, he is an inveterate poker and horse player. The story consists entirely of his efforts to raise $840 in five hours to pay off a gangster-bookie who is threatening to cut him up if he doesn’t deliver the loot on time.

Hughes’ uninhibited screenplay is incisive and tart while his direction has the deft assurance of a man who is reeling with his own idea and knows what he wants as the end product. His cameras stray restlessly around the seamier parts of Soho and the East End.

Newley gives a restless, intelligent and perceptive performance. Few of the supporting actors have much opportunity to make great impact but some register brilliantly, notably Warren Mitchell as Newley’s East End delicatessen store-owner brother.

The Small World of Sammy Lee

UK

Production

British Lion/Bryanston Seven Arts. Director Ken Hughes; Producer Frank Godwin; Screenplay Ken Hughes; Camera Wolfgang Suschitzky; Editor Henry Richardson; Music Kenny Graham

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1963. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Anthony Newley Julia Foster Robert Stephens Wilfrid Brambell Warren Mitchell Miriam Karlin
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