October 11, 2013 at 1:57 am (5 Heads, Cloudburst) (, , , )

Cloudburst – 1951 – England

A cloudburst is a sudden heavy rainfall. Cloudburst’s title might be metaphorically related to the film’s plot. A cryptographer and his wife were part of the British resistance during World War II. With the war over, they dream of starting a family until the wife is killed in a hit-and-run by criminals fleeing a caper. Shocked by grief, the cryptographer hunts the crooks, aided by his contacts from the former resistance and pursued by a wily Scotland Yard investigator. The cryptographer murders the crooks by poetically running them over in a car. In the final scene, he stoically surrenders to the police and is presumably hanged.

Despite its hardboiled premise, Cloudburst lacks cynicism. Instead of being disenfranchised and deranged, the cryptographer displays an admirable sense of honor and justice. Other than his criminal desire to kill his wife’s murderers, he is patriotically respectful of the law. As a result, the film is not very lurid, but that makes its implications more disturbing. As if the right emotional catalyst is all that separates anyone from becoming a killer.

Cloudburst’s most interesting element is the cryptographer’s relationship with the investigator. The two share values and mutual respect, but are forced into confrontation by differing moral codes. Also memorably intense are scenes where the crooks are coldly tortured and run over.

Like most British films, I find Cloudburst to be stolid, lacking the passion that makes revenge stories so compelling. Its moral explorations are thought provoking and the downbeat ending is appropriate, but more than anything, I enjoyed the insights into code breaking and wish the cryptographer’s profession was more related to the plot. A more relevant title would have been nice too.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Watch it on a rainy day.


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