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directed by Robert Hamer
UK 1953


Phillip Davidson (John Mills) is released from prison after serving twelve years for a murder he didn’t commit. He holes up in a bleak, remote shack on the Marshes, where he plots his revenge against those who lied at his trial. (A flashback provides us the details: a smuggling job goes sour, and Davidson is blamed for the death of a man who, in fact, is not dead. His girlfriend, Fay—who, in one of the film’s neat little ironies, subsequently marries a police superintendent)—is coerced by her father to lie about the identity of the man who was burned in the boat fire that followed the altercation).

As he slowly formulates his plan for revenge, Davidson frequents a rundown tavern on the Marsh, where he tries to get a line on the punch-drunk boxer who also lied at his trial. There he gets involved with Ilse (Norwegian actress Eva Bergh), a refugee with the type of intense emotional antennae that allows her to recognize a latent spiritual side to Davidson. He saves her from being raped one night, and a simultaneously awkward and touching relationship begins to develop, forcing Davidson to re-evaluate his need for revenge.

Meanwhile, Fay (Ellzabeth Sellars) and her husband (John McCullum) are extremely worried. Her lies—and the really dangerous secret that the man presumed dead (Boyd, played with nicely escalating desperation by John Chandos) is still a presence in the underworld—are in danger of exposure. When Davidson intimidates the fighter into recanting his earlier testimony, Fay is forced to find Boyd and arrange for her own disappearance—sacrificing her suburban home with husband and son.

Before she can finalize those arrangements, however, Davidson confronts her. Taking a cue from his developing attachment to Ilse, he backs away from revenge, explaining to Fay how he had shed his desire to punish her for what she’d done to him.

Boyd, however, doesn’t turn up to help Fay, and his path crosses Davidson’s when the barkeeper enlists him to deliver a package to Boyd’s office. Fay’s husband, aware of her lie from even before their marriage, tracks his wife down and finds out that Boyd is alive. He figures out that Boyd and Davidson are now in a death chase across the Marsh, and he gives chase, hoping to intercept the two men before Davidson is killed.

Excerpt of review from Don Malcolm at Film Noir of the Week located HERE


Theatrical Release: 23 January 1953 (London)

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DVD Review: VCI - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:21

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.10 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio LPCM Mono (English)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: VCI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Photo Gallery (2:28)

DVD Release Date: August 7th, 2012
Keep Case

Chapters 13



The Long Memory is a gripping British noir that was finally released on DVD by VCI in 2012. Unfortunately, this release can not be easily recommended. The dual-layered disc features an interlaced transfer that suffers from poor contrast (can you tell that John Mills' character is holding a gun in the 6th capture?), but the image has very little damage. The mono soundtrack is fine and VCI provides English subtitles for the feature. The only added bonus is a 2.5-minute photo gallery with 15 promo stills. The film is also available in UK in John Mills - Centenary Collection II from ITV, but we don't have it to compare. While the film gets our most enthusiastic recommendation, we wish VCI disc was easier to recommend.

  - Gregory Meshman


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