Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s screenplay, adapted by Al Lettieri, and based on a James Barlow novel [The Burden of Proof], uses a frayed shoestring plot of a payroll stickup to flesh out the sadistic actions of Richard Burton as a onetime nightclub bouncer with a handy razor who has become one of the major figures of the London underworld. It isn’t just a penchant for cutting and slicing that makes our man tick. He has an entire assortment of quirks.
Tied to a dying mother (Cathleen Nesbitt) by a silver cord stronger than steel cable, he also is a homosexual but no run-of-the-subway version. He has a thing about a petty criminal (Ian McShane) that makes him beat him up, then bed down with him. His bete noir, however, is a dedicated police inspector (Nigel Davenport) whose sole duty is to pin something on him.
Support is strong with top honors going to Joss Ackland as a thief with an ulcer; Donald Sinden, as a Member of Parliament with not quite standard sexual demands which, naturally, makes him an ideal blackmail prospect; and T.P. McKenna, as another gang leader.