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(archived piece)

The following piece was written in 2000 for Lee Sergeant's Hammer website (which later became the Hammer Films Society). The piece appeared on his original website until the recent transfer of the HFS to a new server and domain name in spring 2002.
In the interests of preservation and archival, I'm reposting it here amongst my own site - an appraisal of one of Hammer's most underrated films - a low-budget thriller starring Andre Morell and Peter Cushing.
Its presented in its original format (and almost the original formatting of the webpage, and reflects a style and thought more appropriate to my thoughts at that stage, and the website it was written for.

RJES 30/07/02

Postscript: The Hammer Films Society disappeared from the net not long after this article was reposted in 2002. For the 2006 reposting I've corrected a number of glaring spelling mistakes, otherwise the language and tone is as of the original


Poster art for Cash on Demand

Rather than bore you with the usual diatribe on the ins and outs of the production, that is so often accessible via other Hammer related websites including my own (when I make the time for it that it), I prefer on this occasion to give my personal feelings.

The film itself is something of a minuet. At only 66 minutes in length, a minor play which, despite its brevity, is a true classic film. In no way a horror, but very much a tense atmospheric thriller, which tantalises and excites throughout.

Actually. the film is so tense, that it would work splendidly as a theatrical production, set within a relatively limited set.

The play concerns a rather tight-fisted and vindictive bank-manager called Fordyke (played by the ever-great Peter Cushing), and his dealings with the criminal Colonel Hepburn (Andre Morell).

Fordyke greets and welcomes the 'Colonel' into his office, only to discover that he is not whom he says he is, and after a thorough investigation of arrangements, he forces Fordyke into handing over the entire stock of the bank vault. Unsuspected by the fellow clerks. it seems that all is lost and that Fordyke is to loose all face, and his job, with his wife and child being held ransom at home...

Well, such is the basic plot. I'll not spoil the rest of the story because it is so intriguing, and engrossing. Its one of those really rare titles too. Very few people seem to have it in their collections, and it is not currently available either in the retail market or via the bootleggers.

The concept of the tight bank clerk, and the Christmas setting, with the snow falling all around them outside, one cannot help but draw comparisons with A Christmas Carol. Indeed, the idea that Fordyke is paying for his cruelty to his staff with this rather subversive hold-up are also themes which we see recurring in the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge.

But unlike perhaps a normal Hammer treatment of the Christmas Carol, there are no ghosts, and the only spirits are those which Fordyke keeps in the office drinks cabinet.

Peter gets the rare chance to play outside of his nice-guy hero image, that somehow he maintains even throughout the Frankenstein series of films. He is cold and calculated, and quite honestly we are privileged to see the hardened exterior crack under the pressure of the robbery.

A well-seasoned actor by now, the divergence from his normal roles no doubt gave him great pleasure. His portrayal is beautifully supported by Andre Morell as the Colonel. Andre is clear and precise, and jovially harsh, complementing and enhancing the relative frailty of Fordyke.

It would be the second Hammer feature the two stars had done together, having previously starred in 1959's Hound of the Baskervilles, with Cushing as Holmes and Morell as trusty sidekick Watson. The pair work well together, and it is rather fun to watch them in this slightly different arrangement. They would return together for She, though Andre would find all his lines dubbed by actor George Pastell.

The pace can be a bit slow, but for an hour long film, they manage to cram in an awful lot, providing one of the tensest films I have seen (with the exception of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window).

Every step of the way we wait something to go wrong, for the other clerks to work out that something is amiss, for an all-important phone call to come through and ruin the whole game. But like Fordyke, we are aware that the building is being watched, and the Colonel must signal to them regularly; and that his family is in danger of death should anything go wrong. Our loyalties become twisted and corrupt.

The film is so understated in terms of Hammer fandom. We instead resolve to find as many Dracula pictures as we can lay our hands on as the be-all and end-all of the company. It is a shame, because often the most enthralling and actually, interesting work came from those pictures outside the horror genre.

On The Buses was one of Hammer's biggest successes, and yet it was a comedy. Cash On Demand, although greatly overlooked at the time of release, was one of a list of thrillers which promises so much and delivers. A black and white masterpiece of sorts which begs further indulgement.

In short, a splendid offshoot from the greatest film company in the world (allegedly). The cast is on top form, the setting minimal. Nicely shot, and beautifully presented. And most of all, sadly overlooked.


text is (c) copyright RJE Simpson 2000
first published on Lee Sergeant's Hammer website in 2000.
Introductory text is (c) RJE Simpson 2002
Not to be reused without permission of the author. Email to
This page posted 30th July 2002.
reformatted and reposted 24 August 2006


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