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Cosh Boy

Lewis Gilbert’s shocking and controversial 1952 drama focuses on a gang of juvenile delinquents and their dangerous exploits in post-war London.

Drama 1952 75 mins Not rated

Director: Lewis Gilbert


Lewis Gilbert shocked 1950s audiences with this dark and controversial depiction of delinquent youths in post-war London. Roy (James Kenney) is a brash, chain-smoking thug who bullies his friends (including Rene, played by a young Joan Collins) into subservience. He and his gang assault and rob people on the street, but things get increasingly dangerous when their behaviour escalates to murderous consequences. Gilbert’s film is unafraid to tackle taboo subjects ranging from violence to abortion, but remains grounded in its human perspective.

Gilbert’s film is not just an exacting portrayal of dangerous youths, but an authentic time-capsule of pre-regeneration London. With its dark depiction of bombed-out locations reflecting its characters’ aimless destruction, Cosh Boy delivers a penetrating picture of 1950s Britain and its tense atmosphere. A while after he made this this entertaining, energetic exploitation piece, imbued with added moral weight by a worthily worded on-screen prologue, gifted, prolific Hackney-born director Lewis Gilbert helmed numerous major British features, including three James Bond films.