The Damned (1963)

aka These Are the Damned
Article 1825 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-14-2006
Posting Date: 8-11-2006
Directed by Joseph Losey
Featuring Macdonald Carey, Shirley Ann Field, Oliver Reed

When an American on vacation falls afoul of a gang of Teddy Boys in London, he tries to escape by breaking into a top secret installation that is performing secret experiments on a group of children.

This is only the third of the movies of Joseph Losey that I’ve seen for this series, and though this by no means makes me an expert on his oeuvre, I suspect that children do not occupy an enviable position in his universe. In THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR , the main child character is ostracized by his status as a war orphan; in M, they are preyed upon by a child killer, and here, they are the victims of an experiment sponsored by the government. This one is perhaps the bleakest of the lot, because once you know the nature of their situation, you know there is little chance of rescue, and that doom will follow in the footsteps of anyone who comes into contact with them. The movie itself is a fascinating experience, and I do rank it with Hammer’s best movies, though it certainly doesn’t fit in easily with the rest of their output. Excellent performances abound in this one, though I feel the need to take special notice of Oliver Reed, who manages to give a restrained (for him) performance without sacrificing that intensity that is his trademark. Also fine are Macdonald Carey as the hapless American caught up in the situation, and Viveca Lindfors as an artist who manages to discover something that means her end. This one is sad, powerful, tragic and unforgettable.

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