CASH ON DEMAND
CAST & CREDITS
Peter Cushing - Fordyce, Andre Morell - Hepburn, Richard Vernon - Pearson, Barry Lowe - Harvill, Norman Bird - Sanderson, Edith Sharpe - Miss Pringle, Charles Morgan - Collins, Kevin Stoney - Det. Inspector Mason, Alan Haywood - Kane, Lois Daine - Sally, Vera Cook - Mrs. Fordyce, Gareth Tandy - Tommy, Fred Stone - Window Cleaner
Screenplay - David T. Chantler & Lewis Greifer, From a Play by Jacques Gillies, Director - Quentin Lawrence, Assistant Director - John Peverall, Music - Wilfred Josephs, Musical Supervisor - John Hollingsworth, Director of Photography - Arthur Grant, Production Designer - Bernard Robinson, Supervising Editor - James Needs, Production Manager - Clifford Parkes, Editor - Eric Boyd-Perkins, Art Director - Don Mingaye, Camera Operator - Len Harris, Sound Recordist - Jock May, Sound Editor - Alban Streeter, Continuity - Tilly Day, Make-up Artist - Roy Ashton, Hair Stylist - Frieda Steiger, Wardrobe Supervisor - Molly Abuthnot, Wardrobe Mistress - Rosemary Burrows, Casting - Stuart Lyons, Associate Producer - Anthony Nelson-Keys, Executive Producer - Michael Carreras
A Hammer Film Production
A Columbia Release
Posing as an insurance company investigator, Hepburn plans to loot the provincial bank managed by Fordyce, who is something of a martinet to his staff. Hepburn persuades Fordyce that, unless he assists in the robbery and getaway, his wife and son will come to a sorry end; thoroughly cowed, Fordyce agrees to help. A bank aide, checking on Hepburn, discovers he is an imposter and informs the police. Fordyce pleads with the police to let Hepburn go to insure the safety of his family.
Fordyce contemplating his situation
Hepburn loses his patience with Fordyce!
Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas hammerfilm. It's not any of the obvious candidates: Abominable Snowman, with its snow, sermonizing on peace, and Noble Superior Beings who are just about as silly as Clarence the wingless clockmaker; Dracula AD 1972, with its emphasis on family and heritage; Seven Golden Vampires, with its red/green lighting and happy-go-lucky air- I wonder, could the Deck the Halls lyrics be adapted to the 7GV theme? But I digress: Hammer did actually and on purpose make a Christmas-themed movie. It is called Cash On Demand.
After a credit sequence that plays over footage of the deserted bank set (every scene in the film takes place inside the bank or in the street in front of it), we are introduced to a series of nice but generic employees. Jolly, likeable desk stiffs, good people, a few of them distinguished as stereotypes (Young Woman, Older Woman, Young Male Party Animal, etc.) The most important of these in plot terms is Pearson, a kindly middle-aged man who looks like he ought to be played by Thorley Walters, but isn't. Pearson is essentially the second-in-command to the bank manager, the much-feared and little-loved Mr. Fordyce (Cushing).
Fordyce is about what you'd expect from the name, the job, and the casting. A fastidious, conservative dresser. Obsessive-Compulsive with rigidly symmetrical desk supplies. Frigid, heartless towards employees. Even wears wire-rimmed, round-lensed glasses. And a sign on his back that says "I Am An Uptight Banker." OK, I invented the sign, but the rest of it's for real. The character traits that prove to be really important to the plot are the implicit ones: the latent paranoia that leads him to accuse Pearson of embezzlement on circumstantial evidence, and the temperamental nervousness (yes, I know, one could prob. say of most Cushing characters what Dorothy Sayers said of her fictional sleuth Whimsey: "all nerves and nose." But in this case it's particularly apt).
In breezes Andre Morell as "Colonel Gore-Hepburn" (henceforth, he'll be just Hepburn, following the IMDB usage). He introduces himself as a bank security inspector. Once he gets Fordyce alone, he explains himself differently. He's the leader of a gang of bank robbers who are holding Fordyce's wife and son hostage. Unless Fordyce cooperates completely, unpleasant things will happen to his family.
From here on, the film is a very handsome textbook example of Correct Plotting Procedures. Everything that can logically go wrong without actually ending the story prematurely, does go wrong. Stages in the heist are divided by brief character moments, showcasing Hepburn's charm and skill as a "people person" while Fordyce becomes more and more crushed.
Though it's traditional to praise Cushing's turn as Fordyce, I suspect that Hepburn was considered *the* star-making role back when this thing was a stage play. The character's meant to be a charming rogue, an up stager, a manipulator. Here, well, he's Andre Morell. Which is to say that he's blandly suave, commanding in a low-key sort of way, intelligent, and almost indistinguishable from the Establishment Incarnate baddie Morell plays in 1984:1954. Speaking of which
Gee, I kinda hope Andre Morell enjoyed watching Cushing cry, sniffle, and have hysterics. `Cause, between CoD and 1984, Morell had to put up with it a lot ;-) Your chances of enjoying this film are governed by two things: your desire to see stuck-up white-collar types get their come-uppance, and your comfort level at the idea of Grand Moff Tarkin crying. It would be unjust to say that he spends the whole movie like this; but there are two or three points where Hepburn pushes Fordyce into near-hysterical panic, and a 5min sequence near the very end of the film where the latter is totally distraught and in tears the whole time. This isn't meant as a criticism not quite. Grown men crying is something that happens a fair amount in Christmas movies. I certainly felt for the character most of the time, even though. I tend to dislike "crybabies" (there isn't an actor living, and scarcely six dead, who I tolerate this behavior from). But the fact remains: this is a story about severe emotional punishment being inflicted on a somewhat ignoble character, as played by a sensitive, brilliant actor who can make the audience feel nearly every sting of the figurative whip.
Which brings me to the basic problem here. There's something vaguely bullying about the film's treatment of Fordyce. The turnabout strategy that makes him the robbers' accomplice after he accuses Pearson of embezzlement, and later makes him dependent on Pearson's help, is effective, if just a bit pat. But mostly the story chooses to punish him for his cold attitude by making him worry himself sick (literally) about his family. This bloke is a social misfit let's educate him by hurting him to the breaking point. Merry Christmas from the Ministry of Love. Yeah, ok, maybe I'm letting the B&W images, Andre's drawling & Peter's sobbing remind me too much of that notorious little teleplay of the live TV era. But somehow I doubt I'm alone in this.
I think what I'm uncomfortable w/ here is that the punishment doesn't quite fit the crime. Not that it's too much or too little, just that it doesn't fit. Everything that happens in A Christmas Carol is fairly closely bound up with Scrooge's actions he's punished by being shown what his avarice has deprived himself and other people of. It's A Wonderful Life is about a man who makes a positive difference in the world, and how his suicide would be a sin against society. Cash on Demand, by contrast, tortures its anti-hero w/ his sole virtue. A true "heartless capitalist" type would've told Hepburn to go fish in the Styx, and saved himself a ton of grief. Gee, thanks, guys, what a great moral for Christmas. On the other hand, if it helps you to see your own Mr. Fordyce the one who drives you crazy 364 days of the year with something like pity, it'll have made its point. It would be nice to think that it could reform a few Fordyces in the real world, but in my experience the Grinches never recognize themselves in holiday films anyway.
To conclude: solid supporting cast. Morell is too bland for my taste (& prob. chiefly responsible for that 1984 vibe I was getting), while Cushing is probably too emotional for the liking of some. Very good, low-key directing that puts most modern critical darlings to shame. Stark, nifty Robinson sets (there's a dual-level area w/ stairs that is both very contemporary & very hammer). Starker, niftier B&W photography, courtesy of Arthur Grant. Elegant, intriguing plot that works well as a thriller/character drama w/ Christmas references, not so well as a morality play. Seen at Christmastime, you should get a nice cathartic jolt to drain away the holiday blues, and a more forgiving attitude towards crooks, both the kind that rob banks and the kind that run them. If you're sentimental, bring hankies (lots of ). If you aren't, bring some like-minded soul and do the Mystery Science Theater bit during the emotional moments ;-) Worth seeing in either frame of mind.
COPYRIGHT - VAAR ARAGON, 2000
Peter Cushing, whose name was once synonymous with horror when his Frankenstein and Dracula pictures had audiences cringing with terror, is a reformed character in the Hammer Film production for Columbia release, "Cash on Demand."
Although Cushing has departed from the macabre, he is still not exactly a nice character in "Cash on Demand." Respectable, yes; but not nice.
"I don't mean he's evil," says Cushing, "he is simply a martinet, a man who lacks charity and warmth. In his office, as manager of a bank, he is stern, forbidding. He derives smug satisfaction from holding the threat of dismissal over his staff. This, then is the man who suddenly finds himself the center of a drama that rocks him to the core and alters his life."
Andre Morell could very easily sit for a portrait for the advertising the world's man of distinction and casting directors have recognized this by having him portray leaders in the business world, politcs and the military. At the same time, Morell is equally adapt at conveying "menace." And this is just what he does in the Hammer Film production for Columbia release, "Cash on Demand." The last time Morell and star Peter Cushing appeared together was in "Hound of the Baskervilles" in which Cushing played Sherlock Holmes and Morell was Dr. Watson.
In "Cash on Demand," however, they are on opposite sides of the fence. Cushing is a bank manager, and Morell is the suave, but tough, bandit who helps himself to a fortune from the bank's vaults, right under the nose of the pompous, martinet manager.
Source: Columbia Pressbook, Copyright 1961