INNOCENT BYSTANDERS; starring Donald Pleasance, Geraldine Chaplin, Stanley Baker, Sue Lloyd, Dana Andrews, Warren Mitchell. Written by James Mitchell. Directed by Peter Collinson. Distributed by Scotia Barber.
Innocent Bystanders is the architypal commercial film made with an eye to a quick sale to American TV, with the staple ingredients of motiveless violence, and a plot which takes you through 5 countries in 90 minutes, almost without leaving Pinewood Studios. This is all sort of glued together on a miniscule budget, with everyone acting their scenes as if they were in a hurry to go to the loo. Sadly this particular example of the genre is written by the creator of Callan. How could he sink so low?
The British Secret Service and the KGB are both after the same man etc etc, and the dialogue is cliche ridden, the characters characterless too, except for the English section leader who comes alive through Donald Pleasance’s usual brilliant performance.
During the first half of the film, all one sees is airports, punches and assorted pieces of violence. This becomes so boring that suddenly (and it’s pretty obvious the script was hurriedly changed), a ridiculous Turkish-Australian Alf Garnett type character played by Warren Mitchell is introduced. The silliness of the character plus Warren Mitchell’s dreadful acting coaxes the audience into loud laughter, and I suppose the film begins to work a little bit, but poor Peter Collinson; there are some good imaginatively angled shots and you use sound well, but after Up The Junction and Straight On Till Morning we just know you can do better.