Good Die Young, The (1954): Lewis Gilbert’s British Film Noir, Starring Laurence Harvey, Margaret Leighton, Gloria Grahame

From Our Vaults:

Lewis Gilbert directed The Good Die Young a British noir crime thriller, featuring some American characters (and actors), such as Laurence Harvey and Gloria Grahame.

Grade: B+

The Good Die Young
The Good Die Young FilmPoster.jpeg

US 1955 cinema poster

The screenplay was based on the book of the same name written by Richard Macaulay.  The writers changed the setting of Macauley’s novel from America to 1950s England. The British bank financing the film also required that the novel’s bank robbery be switched to a post office.

The cast includes Laurence Harvey, Gloria Grahame, Joan Collins, Stanley Baker, Richard Basehart and John Ireland.

The film opens with four men in a car, about to commit a serious crime.  The narrative then proceeds to explore how each of the previously law-abiding men came to be in his new position.

Mike (Stanley Baker) is an ageing boxer, in love with his wife (Rene Ray) but injured and unable to find a job.

Joe (Richard Basehart) is an out-of-work clerk who needs to fly to the US with his young wife (Joan Collins) to escape her clinging and unstable mother (Freda Jackson).

Eddie (John Ireland) is an AWOL American airman with an unfaithful actress wife (Gloria Grahame).

The last man, ‘Rave’ Ravenscourt (Laurence Harvey), is a decorated war veteran but also a ‘gentleman’ sponger and scoundrel with gambling debts. He is the unscrupulous leader who lures the other three into an armed robbery scheme.

The film reaches a bloody climax at Heathrow Airport.

The film was made by Romulus, the company of the Woolf Brothers, who made British films targeted at international audiences, for which they cast American stars.

The film was shot on location in London and at Shepperton Studios, with other scenes of BOAC Boeing Stratocruiser aircraft at Heathrow Airport and the District Line around Barbican.

Laurence Harvey subsequently married Margaret Leighton, who played his wife in the film.

Kirk Douglas visited Gloria Grahame and John Ireland on the set and appeared in the film as an extra as a joke.

The film opened in the UK on March 2, 1954, with general release on April 5.

Laurence Harvey as Miles ‘Rave’ Ravenscourt
Gloria Grahame as Denise Blaine
Richard Basehart as Joe Halsey
Joan Collins as Mary Halsey
John Ireland as Eddie Blaine
Rene Ray as Angela Morgan
Stanley Baker as Mike Morgan
Margaret Leighton as Eve Ravenscourt
Robert Morley as Sir Francis Ravenscourt
Freda Jackson as Mrs Freeman
James Kenney as Dave, Angela’s brother
Susan Shaw as Doris, girl in the pub
Lee Patterson as Tod Maslin
Sandra Dorne as pretty girl
Leslie Dwyer as Stookey
Patricia McCarron as Carole
George Rose as Bunny
Joan Heal as Woman
Walter Hudd as Dr. Reed


Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Screenplay by Vernon Harris, Lewis Gilbert, based on The Good Die Young by Richard Macaulay
Produced by John Woolf, Jack Clayton
Cinematography Jack Asher
Edited by Ralph Kemplen
Music by Georges Auric

Production company: Remus Films

Distributed by Independent Film Distributors (UK); United Artists (US)

Release dates: March 2, 1954 (UK); November 29, 1955 (US)

Running time: 100 minutes
Country UK


TCM showed this rarely seen film on August 17, 2021.