Former RAF pilot Clem (Howard) joins Narcys (Jones) racket to help sell products in Londons thriving black market. But when Clem objects to selling drugs, Narcy sets him up for manslaughter, sending him to jail.
Knowing hes been framed, Narcys ex-girlfriend, Sally (Grey), visits Clem to see what kind of man he is and whether she can help her plan to have Soapy (Jack McNaughton) confess that it was Narcy who actually killed the man.
But Clem doesnt trust Sally, and he breaks out of prison to find justice for himself. But along the way, he gets into more trouble and eventually needs Sallys help.
This film shows the following tropes:
- Affably Evil: Narcy comes off as charming in the beginning, but he shows his ugly side when he brutally beats Sally for visiting Clem in prison.
- Black Market: How Narcy makes his money. One thing that must be remembered is that England continued to ration their food until 1954, so commodities like meat, coffee, and nylon stockings were something that were still hard to find and were found through the unsavoury black market.
- Chiaroscuro: There are several effective uses of this throughout the film.
- Climbing Climax: At the Valhalla mortuary is where Narcy and his posse go to find Clem. The police also know this is where is everyone is meeting and want to use Clem as bait.
- Coffin Contraband: Narcy carries all sorts of goods in his coffins but when he starts bringing drugs, Clem objects.
- Did Not Get the Girl: The film takes a decidedly bleak route when it comes to its ending: Clem has to go back to jail. Although Sally declares her undying love for Clem, its unlikely that hell be out of jail anytime soon.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Narcy uses his henchman to fin the whereabouts of Soapy from Cora (Rene Ray), his girlfriend. He threatens her with the belt (which has metal parts on it) if she doesn't give away the hiding place. After a few brutal whips, she gives in.
- Downer Ending: This film eschews a happy end for a more realistic one.
- Dying Declaration of Hate: Narcys last words condemn Clem and Sally to hell, and he refuses to confess the truth about Clems involvement with the murder.
- Great Escape: We dont see how Clem escapes prison, but he manages to elude the police well enough not to be caught until he reaches London.
- Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: Soapy and his involvement with the manslaughter of the police officer which technically was his fault, not Clem. Hes caught between wanting to help Clem but being scared of Narcys vengeance. It doesnt matter in the end since Narcys hit man kills him and dumps him into the river.
- Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: The "legit" mortuary that Narcy runs.
- London Gangster: Narcy. And the Narcy is short for Narcissist.
- Rooftop Confrontation: Where the film climaxes: Narcy and Clem have their final confrontation on the roof of the Valhalla funeral home.
- We Have to Get the Bullet Out: While on his Great Escape, Clem gets shot by a farmer and is left with a painful collection of buckshot across his shoulder. When he finds Sally, she takes out the pieces even if she's constantly feeling faint from the sight of blood.
- Would Hit a Girl: Brutal in its depiction of Narcy and his abuse of Sally and Cora.