|The Long Arm|
British film poster
|Directed by||Charles Frend|
|Produced by||Michael Balcon|
|Written by||Robert Barr|
|Music by||Gerard Schurmann|
|Edited by||Gordon Stone|
|Distributed by||Rank Film Distributors (UK)|
The Long Arm (USA: The Third Key) is a 1956 British film noir police procedural crime film starring Jack Hawkins. The film, which was based on a screenplay by Robert Barr and Janet Green, was directed by Charles Frend and produced by Michael Balcon. It was shot on location in London and Snowdonia in North Wales.
When police respond to a burglar alarm at premises in Long Acre, central London they find nothing amiss after meeting the nightwatchman who allows them to search the premises. However, the next day the safe, which had been opened with a key, is found empty. Supt Tom Halliday (Jack Hawkins) and his new Detective Sergeant, Ward (John Stratton), begin searching for the fraudulent nightwatchman.
Halliday deduces that the false nightwatchman has committed 14 safe-breaking jobs across the country, all against the same type of safe, and all with keys. Visiting the safe maker, Halliday gets the names of all current and former staff, but they are all cleared. When another safe is opened, a bystander is run over by the getaway car. The victim manages to pass limited information to the police before dying. The hit-and-run vehicle is found in a scrap yard. The car has been stolen from a Mrs Elliot. Inside they find a newspaper that leads them to a garage in north Wales and to a Mr Gilson, a deceased former employee of the safe maker.
Halliday finds there are 28 further safes in London. He also finds out that the thief is being tipped off as to which safes have a lot of cash in them by an insurance agent. The police arrange with the owner of a safe in the Royal Festival Hall to let the insurance agent know about gala nights that generate a lot of cash. They tail the insurance agent to a meeting with Mrs Elliot, the woman whose car was stolen. However, she is identified as Mrs Gilson, the wife of the apparently dead safe key maker.
Halliday and Ward deduce that Gilson faked his own death after spending years making duplicate keys (the third key) for all the safes his company produced. Gilson hits the Royal Festival Hall but the detectives are waiting. After a short scuffle, Mrs Gilson arrives in a sports car. Halliday jumps on the bonnet and breaks the windscreen as Ward chases down Gilson on foot. Both are arrested and the case is solved.
- Jack Hawkins as Supt Tom Halliday
- John Stratton as Sergeant Ward
- Dorothy Alison as Mary Halliday
- Michael Brooke as Tony Halliday
- Sam Kydd as Police control room Operator
- Glyn Houston as Police Sergeant
- Richard Leech as Gilson, the burglar
- Newton Blick as Deputy Commander Harris
- Geoffrey Keen as Chief Superintendent Malcolm
- Sydney Tafler as Mr. Stone
- Ursula Howells as Mrs. Elliott (Mrs. Gilson)
- Peter Burton as Mr. Creasey, insurance agent
- George Rose as Slob, the informer
- Arthur Rigby as Detective Inspector at Chester
- Ralph Truman as Colonel Blenkinsop
- Ian Bannen as Stanley James, hit-and-run victim
- John Warwick as Detective Inspector at Shipping Office
- Joss Ambler as Cashier at Shipping Office
- Harry Locke as secondhand dealer
- Alec McCowen as doctor in the hospital
- Nicholas Parsons as PC Bates
- Warwick Ashton as Newspaper Circulation Manager
- David Davies as Welsh Police Constable
- John Welsh as House Agent at Shepperton
- Richard Davies as a newsagent
- Maureen Delany as daily help
- Jameson Clark as Detective Superintendent Ogilvie
- William Mervyn as Manager of the Royal Festival Hall
- Harold Goodwin as a librarian
- Meredith Edwards as Mr Thomas, garage owner
The film premiered at Gaumont Haymarket in London on 22 June 1956. However the reviewer for The Times was not impressed, and found the story implausible and "not quite clever enough" even though it used a documentary filming style. It won the Silver Bear for an Outstanding Single Achievement award at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival.
- The Times, 22 June 1956, page 2: First advert for The Long Arm, running at Gaumont Haymarket; found in The Times Digital Archive 2014-06-24
- The Times, 25 June 1956, page 12: The Arts; found in The Times Digital Archive 2014-06-24
- "6th Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 27 December 2009.