The Frightened City is a conventional but brisk gangster yarn. Accent of the film is tough and hard-hitting and concerns intergang warfare plus the clash between the cops and the crooks, the cops, as a spokesman bitterly says, finding themselves hampered by outdated laws. ‘We’re trying to fight 20th-century crime with 19th-century legislation.’
Six main gangs are running the protection racket and a bent accountant hits on the idea of organizing the gangs into one all-powerful syndicate. All goes well for awhile but then the boss of the organization makes a successful play for a deal involving a $560,000 block of offices being built. One of the gangsters fights shy of this bigger game, backs out of the organization and re-forms his own gang. This sparks off gang warfare.
Herbert Lom plays the brains of the crooked organization with urbane villainy and equally reliable John Gregson makes a solid, confident job of the dedicated cop. Alfred Marks is cast offbeat as Lom’s gangster lieutenant. Marks gives a rich, oily, sinister and yet often amusing portrayal of an ambitious thug who is prepared to turn killer to get his own way. Comparative newcomer, rugged Sean Connery makes a distinct impression as an Irish crook, with an eye for the ladies. Connery combines toughness, charm and Irish blarney.