Cast & Crew
Casino owner Jim Forster stumbles into the street, where he is struck and killed by a car. Earlier, in Jim's London gambling house, shabby aristocrat Peter Willens pays receipt taker Jaco Spina with a bad check. Although Jim, an American ex-con who desperately wants to gain social standing, eschews strong-arm tactics, Jaco takes it upon himself to intimidate Peter. The next day, just as Jim's etiquette class ends, Peter visits to ask for more time to repay, and haughtily refuses to believe that Jim did not order the beating. After Peter leaves, Jim confronts Jaco and forcibly throws him out. He then laments to his best friend and manager, "Dave" Davies, that even after spending three years in jail for beating a man to death, he still cannot control his temper. Dave warns Jim that he will never be accepted in the upper class, but Jim is determined to earn enough money and clout to escape his past. They eat dinner that night at Maxie's, the gambling house where Jim won the first dollar that allowed him to build his current empire of nightclubs, casinos and racing horses. When three toughs make fun of Jim's grand airs, he starts a bar fight and then escapes to his nightclub. There, American gangsters Arturo and Angelo Colonna announce that they are in London to check out the gambling scene. Jim brushes them off and takes out his girl friend Pat, a dancer at the club. At the end of the night, however, Pat demands to know why Jim has been distant lately, and when he tries to break off the relationship, she berates his social climbing, telling him the aristocrats will know he is from the gutter. The Colonnas visit Jim at home the next morning and offer to buy his business and combine it with theirs. Although they want him to run it for a small percentage, he refuses. That night, he returns to the club and finds Peter with his sister Susan and a group of friends. When the group makes fun of Jim's formal manners, Susan rescues him and, as Pat watches, agrees to accompany him to an upcoming boxing match. On the night of the date, Peter "protects" Susan by telling Jim she is away for the weekend, and although Susan calls Jim as soon as she discovers her brother's deception, he has already gone out. At the races the next day, Susan finds Jim and explains the mistake, and soon they are spending every night together. Meanwhile, the Colonnas' men destroy the club, but Jim ignores them and rebuilds it quickly. A few nights later at the club, Pat warns Susan to stay away from Jim, but Susan scorns her. As Jim and Susan's relationship deepens, Peter's money troubles grow, and soon Peter asks her to convince Jim to invest in a gold mine with him. Reluctantly, she agrees, and Jim is so enthralled with the idea of making a fortune legitimately that he sells all his assets to make the investment. That night, he comes home to find Pat waiting for him with a knife, which he wrestles from her. She leaves but threatens to tell Susan about his past. The next morning, Jim learns that the gold mine investment was a swindle and he has lost everything. Believing Susan set him up, he refuses her calls and drinks heavily all day. Meanwhile, Jaco, who now works for the Colonnas but has never forgiven Jim, schemes to ruin the American. He spends the day informing the police about the Colonnas' gambling houses, and, when they are raided that night, blames Jim. Arturo sends Angelo to rough up Jim, but instead Angelo kills Dave. When Jim discovers his friend's dead body, he rushes in a murderous rage to the Colonnas', with a crazed Pat following close behind in her car. Susan learns from Jim's butler Sam what has happened, and the two drive to the Colonnas'. There, Jim enters the office, and although Arturo orders his men not to shoot, Jaco, panicked, pulls out a gun. Jim shoots him and, escapes out a window after being shot in the arm. He stumbles into the street, where Pat guns her accelerator and runs him over. After she speeds away, Susan and Sam pull up, and Susan cradles Jim in her arms as he dies.
London Philharmonic Orchestra
J. Elder Wills
The Gambler and the Lady
Put into production under the working title The Money, with distribution to be handled in the United Kingdom by Hammer's parent company, Exclusive Films, and by Lippert in the United States, The Gambler and the Lady finds Clark playing an American expatriate, an alcoholic in recovery from his demons and in flight from a manslaughter charge back home after killing a man in a drunken bar fight. Though he runs an illegal gambling parlor, Clark's contrite but ambitious Jim Forster dreams of going legitimate, a business model that puts him in the categorical company of the upwardly mobile mobsters played by Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part 2 (1974) and Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday (1980) - though one senses as well the echo of doomed wrestling tout Richard Widmark in Jules Dassin's London-set noir Night and the City (1950). Overseeing production of The Gambler and the Lady was another American expat, the prolific B-movie director Sam Newfield, who had impressed the company with his work on Lady in the Fog. To work around a labor quota limiting the number of British films that could be directed by foreigners, Hammer had Newfield share onscreen credit with dialogue director Pat Jenkins; Newfield took no credit at all for writing The Gambler and the Lady's literate, class conscious screenplay.
Though The Gambler and the Lady was not a hit, Hammer continued to profit in the main by the further importation of American talent such as Richard Conte, Lloyd Bridges, Louis Hayward, Dan Duryea, Forrest Tucker, and Howard Duff. (Clark returned twice more to the Hammer fold in Murder by Proxy and Five Days [both 1954].) Duff's The Naked City (1948) costar Don Taylor headlined Men of Sherwood Forest (1954), Hammer's first color film, and Brian Donlevy starred as Professor Quatermass in The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass 2 (US: Enemy from Space, 1957). The success of the Quatermass films persuaded the company to shift production toward science fiction and Gothic horror, a tack that paid handsomely with the box office receipts from Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (US: Horror of Dracula, 1958). Though it rates little more than footnote status in the story of Hammer Film Productions, The Gambler and the Lady remains significant for marking the company's permanent encampment at Down Place, an 18th Century country home on the banks of the River Thames. Hammer would rename the site Bray Studios in honor of the neighboring village and conduct business there for many years, before shifting to more expansive soundstages in 1966.
By Richard Harland Smith
Hammer Films: An Exclusive Filmography by Tom Johnson and Deborah Del Vecchio (McFarland & Company, Inc., 1995)
Dane Clark obituary by Tom Vallance, The Independent, September 17, 1988
The Gambler and the Lady
The working title of this film was In the Money. Although actor Enzo Coticchia is listed before Julian Somers and Anthony Ireland in the film's closing credits, he is not included in the opening credits. No writing credits were listed on the film or in any other source.
Sam Newfield is credited in reviews as the American co-director, but on the print viewed, which was the British version, only Patrick Jenkins is listed. Hammer Films was producer Anthony Hinds's production company, and the British print includes the credit "A Hammer Production." The Hollywood Reporter production charts list the production company as Intercontinental Pictures, but all other sources credit Exclusive Pictures, Ltd. For additional information on the relationship between Hammer and Exclusive, please consult the entry below for Man Bait .