Every now and then, Britain’s “House of Horror” Hammer Films would knock off a more or less straight suspense drama—with variable results. One of the best of these is Cash on Demand (1962), which I had never encountered until catching it for this review. This tale of a seemingly heartless bank manager (Peter Cushing) being forced to help a charming and stylish—but apparently ruthless—criminal (Andre Morell) rob his own bank just before Christmas was adapted from a play, and it shows. It’s not just the generally confined setting—three rooms, a bank vault, a street—that gives that feeling, but the too finely honed and to-the-point dialogue. This, however, isn’t a bad thing, nor is the workmanlike direction of TV director Quentin Lawrence. The performances and the suspenseful plot erase any failings. Peter Cushing’s meltdown as the cold bank manager is one of his most effective, while Andre Morell’s determined but suave bank robber is a pure delight. There’s an undercurrent of a Christmas Carol-like theme—which may, if you’re fancifully-minded actually be the story. Whether you really want to view the robber as Marley’s ghost and the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future rolled into one is up to you, but it’s not untenable.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Cash on Demand Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.