Roy Walsh is a brash and enterprising thug who bullies his friends into subservience. He and his gang assault and rob people on the street, but things get increasingly dangerous when their behavior escalates to larger crimes.
COSH BOY is an intriguing mix of social drama and crime thriller, released in Britain in 1953. It deserves credit for tackling the subject matter of juvenile crime and delinquency in a stark and realistic way, avoiding sensation for the most part in its depiction of unpleasant events that spiral out of control and affect the lives of those involved. The film was shot by future Bond director Lewis Gilbert, who exhibits a good control of his medium even at this early stage of his career.
James Kenney gives a thoroughly believable turn as the film's protagonist, one of the most unpleasant in all of 1950s cinema. Through him, the viewer gets into the mind of the thug and sees just what makes him tick. The exasperated family members are all well and good, but it's the youthful figures who stand out: an impossibly young Joan Collins as the naive girlfriend and Johnny Briggs as a callow gang member. Even Sid James and Laurence Naismith show up as coppers. There aren't many laughs here, but the oddly gripping nature of the material will see you through right till the end.
Reviewed by MartinHafer6 / 10
It's ALL the coddling mothers' fault....spare the rod, spoil the Empire I say!
"Cosh Boy" (also known as "The Slasher") is an incredibly Oedipal picture that takes advantage of post-war worries that the youth were running amok. It begins with Roy Walsh and a friend committing a mugging (a 'cosh') and soon getting caught. They are placed on probation and Roy acts very contrite and decent in court...and almost immediately after, he's planning his next crimes! His idea is to use the Youth Club his probation officer wants him to attend. He and his gang will go there...and use it as a cover for their criminal activities. In the process, Roy discovers a pretty young lady (Joan Collins)...who he treats like dirt.
Through the course of the film, Roy continually ups the ante--with his criminal behaviors getting worse and worse. He clearly is without a redeeming quality...though his co-dependent mother makes excuses for him. The only one who sees right through the punk is his mother's boyfriend...he knows that Roy needs a very firm hand. But here is where it gets rather Freudian...as Roy throws a weird temper tantrum and swears no one will have his mother as she is HIS! What's next? See this weird little film.
James Kenney is quite good as Roy--snarling, nasty and incredibly two- faced..as well as hopelessly in love with his mother..though he and his mum don't seem to realize it. My biggest complaint, however, is that the film tries to say that who Roy is turns out to be because he has a super-permissive mother. In fact, the preachy prologue says exactly that! Oversimplified to say the least! Overall, it's not a great film at all...but it IS entertaining and worth seeing!
By the way, although the film seems very tame by modern standards, it received the brand new X-rating--which was very unusual for the 1950s. Perhaps this was because the film talks about teenage pregnancy and is a tad violent...all of which would lead to a PG or PG-13 rating today.
"Get up you little rat...you're making me sick!!!"--best line in the film.
Reviewed by bkoganbing7 / 10
Coshing the Cosh Boy
Although the play Cosh Boy never made it to Broadway, probably too British in its subject matter, the original actor who played the lead on the London stage got to recreate his role for the screen. In the tradition of Richard Attenborough in Brighton Rock, James Kenney is mesmerizing and unforgettable as the dirty little punk who with his gang robs little old ladies of their monies.
If anything Kenney is far more loathsome than Attenborough, not even a hint of surface charm. In fact the hardest part of the film to take seriously is having young Joan Collins surrender herself and her virginity to this creep. Still his love 'em and leave 'em attitude is just one more reason to hate this kid. I've seen very few leading villains so lacking in any redeeming qualities. Possibly Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one.
For those of us Yanks for who the film was retitled The Slasher for release by Lippert Pictures here, a Cosh is a kind of truncheon used to whack someone into unconsciousness or beat them severely. That's what he and his gang use. He's the bane of the existence of his poor mother Betty Ann Davies who agonizes over what she did wrong in raising him. She has a new man in her life, American Robert Ayres playing a Canadian, who thinks the kid just needed a good attitude adjustment that was never given him by a father who is not in the picture. In the end Kenney has to account for all his many sins.
Besides a very young Joan Collins viewers should take note of the two Hermiones in the film, Hermione Baddely as the mother of Collins who wants to Cosh the Cosh Boy after she finds out what Kenney has done and Hermione Gingold playing a not disguised at all prostitute who is a friend of the Davies/Kenney family. It's a poor section of London these folks live in with evidence all around of the recent war. Kenney's gang hides out in the bombed out buildings still not repaired by 1953.
Cosh Boy is still quite a riveting piece of film making and Kenney is unforgettably evil.