Weak And The Wicked, The (1953, Glynis Johns, John Gregson)



The Weak and the Wicked was a liberally minded women’s prison drama from the ’50s. Glynis Johns and Diana Dors are locked up with a great collection of British actresses in this sympathetic portmanteau about birds doing bird.

Johns plays Jean Raymond, a timid young thing sent down for a twelve month stint after her gambling problem gets out of hand. She’s lost in the intimidating environment at first, but then she hooks up with troubled glamourpuss Betty (Dors) who’s doing time after taking the rap for her man. Chalk and cheese they are guv’nor and no mistake, but busty, brash Betty lends Jean a bit of pluck and protection, and in return, Jean fixes Betty’s broken heart of gold.

Their redemption song plays out across their transfer from the severe Blackdown jail to progressive institution, The Grange – a sort of ’50s style Open prison. It’s a plot device that allows the film to comment on the relative merits of the opposing regimes, while adding to the dramatic content by borrowing stories from the other inmates who remember their crimes in a series of episodic flashbacks. Best of these has Athene Seyler and Sybil Thorndike conniving to murder A E Matthews with a dose of weed-killer.

Cinema has a grand tradition of women’s prison dramas, but from John Comwell’s Caged (1949) to Jonathan Demme’s debut, Caged Heat (1974), most of them have come from America. There the prospect of cat-fights, shower scenes and baton-wielding, bull-dyke wardens packed the hoary hordes into drive-ins throughout the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It wasn’t until Mai Zetterling made Scrubbers (1982), the sister-school variant of Alan Clarke’s Scum , that British cinema finally caught up with the extremes allowed by the genre.

The Weak And The Wicked (adapted by director J Lee Thompson from Joan Henry’s novel Who Lie In Gaol ) comes from an entirely different era, being slightly less gritty than an episode of Listen With Mother . Dors (who would go on to star in Thompson’s anti-capital punishment plea, Yield To The Night ) does her bit to add a bit of dirt to the proceedings with an energetic display of sexy, snarling disillusion, but this is no exploitation pic. Instead Thompson and his substantial cast have dealt their characters and subject matter great sympathy to highlight the effectiveness of a more lenient penal system. The result could be seen as an intriguing historical document recording Britain’s growing post-war liberalism in the nature/nurture debate.

production details
UK | 88 minutes | 1954

Director: J Lee Thompson
Writer: J Lee Thompson, Anne Burnaby (from a novel by Joan Henry)

Glynis Johns as Jean Raymond
John Gregson as Dr. Michael Hale
Sid James as Syd Baden
Athene Seyler as Millie Williams, inmate
Jane Hylton as Babs Peters, inmate
Diana Dors as Betty Brown
Rachel Roberts as Pat, pregnant inmate
Olive Sloane as Nellie Baden, inmate
Bessie Love as Prisoner

You may also be interested in...

News2 hours ago

Channel 4 boosts ad impact with streaming innovations

Channel 4 has conducted a UK-first public trial with 15 brands on new streaming ad formats, resulting in an 81%...

News6 hours ago

French Crime Drama Astrid Season 3 US Premiere Set for Jan 5 on Walter Presents

“Astrid,” the hit French mystery-crime drama series, returns to North American screens with its third season, featuring eight new episodes...

The Newsreader The Newsreader
News9 hours ago

ABC leads nominations for 2023 AACTA Awards

ABC has received a record 61 AACTA nominations, with The Newsreader Season 2 leading the pack. The network’s Chief Content...

Screen Australia announces Talent USA: New York recipients 2023 Screen Australia announces Talent USA: New York recipients 2023
News10 hours ago

Screen Australia Talent USA: New York 2024

Screen Australia has selected six individuals and two creative teams to travel to New York in 2024 as part of...

Australian Idol on Channel 7 Australian Idol on Channel 7
News12 hours ago

Channel 7’s Australian Idol: Meet Dylan Wright

Australian Idol returns to Channel 7 and 7plus on January 29, 2024. The emotional audition of 30-year-old Dylan Wright left...

Royal Carols: Together At Christmas Royal Carols: Together At Christmas
News14 hours ago

7’s Carols in the Domain will air Saturday 23 December

Sports presenter Matt Shirvington will co-host the upcoming Carols in the Domain event for Seven, alongside Sunrise host Natalie Barr....

News15 hours ago

Walter Presents: Presumed Guilty Premiere (Channel 4 Tuesday 12 December 2023)

The premiere of WALTER PRESENTS: PRESUMED GUILTY on Channel 4. Lola Brémond embarks on a journey to uncover the truth...

The Real Full Monty The Real Full Monty
News15 hours ago

Vicky McClure Returns in Promo for ITV’s Trigger Point Season 2

A promo for the upcoming second series of Trigger Point, featuring Vicky McClure and returning cast members, has been released....

Episodes2 hours ago

James Acaster: Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 (Sky Comedy Tuesday 12 December 2023)

James Acaster dissects his best and worst years, 1999 and 2017, in his stand-up special “Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999”....

2024 Golden Globes on Stan 2024 Golden Globes on Stan
Episodes2 hours ago

Stan to exclusively air 2024 Golden Globes

Stan has secured the exclusive rights to air the 2024 Golden Globe Awards, live from Los Angeles. The awards ceremony...

Dickinson's Real Deal Dickinson's Real Deal
Episodes2 hours ago

Dickinson’s Real Deal: Walsall 4 (ITV1 Tuesday 12 December 2023)

Dickinson’s Real Deal: Walsall 4 airs Tuesday 12 December 2023 on ITV1. What is this episode about The antiques dealer...

Emmerdale Emmerdale
Episodes2 hours ago

Emmerdale: Episode 9859 (ITV1 Tuesday 12 December 2023)

Emmerdale: Episode 9859 airs Tuesday 12 December 2023 on ITV1. What is this episode about While Mack is busy getting...

Fair City Fair City
Episodes2 hours ago

Fair City: 12/12/23 (RTE One Tuesday 12 December 2023)

Fair City: 12/12/23 airs Tuesday 12 December 2023 on RTE One. What is this episode about Orla takes a risk...

Ros na Rún Ros na Rún
Episodes2 hours ago

Ros na Rún: 12/12/23 (TG4 Tuesday 12 December 2023)

Ros na Rún: 12/12/23 airs Tuesday 12 December 2023 on TG4. What is this episode about Things return to normal...

Episodes3 hours ago

Hollyoaks: 12/11/23 (Channel 4 Tuesday 12 December 2023)

Hollyoaks on E4 Tuesday, 12 December 2023 at 7.00pm, Warren is attempting to hide his true feelings. Intense Drama Unfolds...

The Martin Lewis Money Show The Martin Lewis Money Show
Episodes3 hours ago

The Martin Lewis Money Show: Episode 7 (ITV1 Tuesday 12 December 2023)

The Martin Lewis Money Show: Episode 7 airs Tuesday 12 December 2023 on ITV1 What can we expect from this...