The Offence (1973)

R | 112-114 mins | Drama | May 1973

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writer:

John Hopkins

Producer:

Denis O'Dell

Cinematographer:

Gerry Fisher

Production Designer:

John W. Clark

Production Company:

Tantallon Films
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was Something Like the Truth . The film begins and ends with the slow motion scene of the discovery of "Johnson's" assault on "Baxter" and the detective turning on his associates before coming to his senses. According to a Jan 1972 HR item, Sean Connery's longtime agent, Richard Hatton, joined the actor to form Tantallon Films. An Apr 1972 Var item noted that producers Denis O'Dell and Stanley Sopol were also involved with Tantallon, with United Artists as distributor of a two-picture deal under the stipulation that Connery would return to the role of "James Bond" in Diamonds Are Forever (1971, see above).
       According to Filmfacts , The Offence , which received mixed reviews, was shelved soon after its release. In a modern biography on Connery, the actor was quoted as stating that the opportunity to make The Offence was the only reason he agreed to return to the Bond series. The Offence was the only film produced under the Tantallon banner. Modern sources add Roger Hume, Roy Macready and Michael Redfern to the ... More Less

The working title of the film was Something Like the Truth . The film begins and ends with the slow motion scene of the discovery of "Johnson's" assault on "Baxter" and the detective turning on his associates before coming to his senses. According to a Jan 1972 HR item, Sean Connery's longtime agent, Richard Hatton, joined the actor to form Tantallon Films. An Apr 1972 Var item noted that producers Denis O'Dell and Stanley Sopol were also involved with Tantallon, with United Artists as distributor of a two-picture deal under the stipulation that Connery would return to the role of "James Bond" in Diamonds Are Forever (1971, see above).
       According to Filmfacts , The Offence , which received mixed reviews, was shelved soon after its release. In a modern biography on Connery, the actor was quoted as stating that the opportunity to make The Offence was the only reason he agreed to return to the Bond series. The Offence was the only film produced under the Tantallon banner. Modern sources add Roger Hume, Roy Macready and Michael Redfern to the cast. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Apr 1972.
---
Box Office
8 Jan 1973.
---
Box Office
21 May 1973
p. 4591.
Filmfacts
1973
p. 146-48.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1972
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1972
p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald
27 May 1973.
---
New York Times
12 May 1973
p. 19.
New York Times
3 Jun 1973
Arts & Leisure, p. 11, 14.
Time
4 Jun 1973.
---
Variety
5 Apr 1972.
---
Variety
16 May 1973
p. 32.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Stills photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Electronic realisation by
at EMS Studios
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Casting
Supv accountant
Loc mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play This Story of Yours by John Hopkins (London, 11 Dec 1968).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Something Like the Truth
Release Date:
May 1973
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 May 1973
Production Date:
4 April--late June 1972 at Twickenham Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 May 1973
Copyright Number:
LP50097
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
112-114
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After British Detective Sergeant “Johnny” Johnson severely beats a suspected pedophile at police headquarters, he reflects on events leading up to that attack: Following the rape of three young girls in a London suburb, Johnson and fellow police detectives keep watch at the local school, where children are met by anxious parents. Frustrated that their presence has frightened away the perpetrator, Johnson grows more incensed when a report comes in soon after that one of the schoolgirls who was not met by an adult has gone missing. Joining a police search at dusk, Johnson explores the underbrush alone where eventually he finds the missing girl, Janie Edmonds, with torn, muddy clothes. Hoping to get details from Janie, Johnson rides to the hospital with her, but learns nothing. Later, at police headquarters, Johnson insults a witness who earlier saw Janie meet a man in a long, dark coat but who waited to pass on the information until it was too late. Johnson then prowls the streets and questions a regular informant in vain. In the early morning, two policemen spot a man covered in mud, staggering about and unable to speak, and bring him to the station. Noting blood on his dark coat, and scratches on his face, Inspector Cameron and partner Frank Jessard believe the man may be the molester. Eager to question the man, Johnson joins Cameron and the suspect, who has identified himself as Kenneth Baxter. Although Baxter refuses to make a statement, Johnson agrees with the others on the suspect's guilt. When Cameron orders Baxter be let alone for a while to “sweat,” however, Johnson grows ... +


After British Detective Sergeant “Johnny” Johnson severely beats a suspected pedophile at police headquarters, he reflects on events leading up to that attack: Following the rape of three young girls in a London suburb, Johnson and fellow police detectives keep watch at the local school, where children are met by anxious parents. Frustrated that their presence has frightened away the perpetrator, Johnson grows more incensed when a report comes in soon after that one of the schoolgirls who was not met by an adult has gone missing. Joining a police search at dusk, Johnson explores the underbrush alone where eventually he finds the missing girl, Janie Edmonds, with torn, muddy clothes. Hoping to get details from Janie, Johnson rides to the hospital with her, but learns nothing. Later, at police headquarters, Johnson insults a witness who earlier saw Janie meet a man in a long, dark coat but who waited to pass on the information until it was too late. Johnson then prowls the streets and questions a regular informant in vain. In the early morning, two policemen spot a man covered in mud, staggering about and unable to speak, and bring him to the station. Noting blood on his dark coat, and scratches on his face, Inspector Cameron and partner Frank Jessard believe the man may be the molester. Eager to question the man, Johnson joins Cameron and the suspect, who has identified himself as Kenneth Baxter. Although Baxter refuses to make a statement, Johnson agrees with the others on the suspect's guilt. When Cameron orders Baxter be let alone for a while to “sweat,” however, Johnson grows indignant, believing that Baxter is making a mockery of them by avoiding answering questions. Soon after, Johnson returns to the interrogation room where he orders the guard to leave so that he and Baxter are alone. While Johnson questions Baxter, Cameron meets with the chief constable, who scolds him for holding Baxter without charging him or allowing him contact with a solicitor. Back in the present, Cameron leads Johnson to another room where he files a report on his attack on Baxter. Afterward, the chief suspends Johnson and orders him to remain at home. On the drive back to his flat, Johnson reflects on the numerous gruesome results of violent acts that he has witnessed over his twenty years on the force. Upon arriving home, Johnson begins drinking, which wakens his wife Maureen, who grows unsettled by her husband’s mood but refrains from asking him its cause. Soon, the couple quarrels as Johnson wants to talk about the beating and the case, yet cannot find the appropriate words to make his wife understand his conflicted, angry emotions. Pleading with Johnson to confide in her, Maureen nevertheless is horrified when he describes the numerous brutal scenes he has dealt with over his career. Overcome with frustration, Johnson lashes out at his wife, blaming her plainness and physical unresponsiveness as the major failings of their marriage. As Johnson criticizes his wife, he recalls that when he found Janie lying in the forest, she struggled against him in terror. Declaring that he hopes Baxter dies because he is a pervert, Johnson is interrupted by the doorbell as Cameron and another detective arrive. Cameron informs Johnson that Baxter has died from the beating, requiring Johnson to return to headquarters immediately. After shaving and changing clothes, Johnson departs without a word to Maureen. At headquarters, Detective Superintendent Cartwright meets Johnson alone in an interrogation room. Initially Johnson responds sulkily to Cartwright’s request to describe all that occurred with Baxter, claiming that the details are in his report. Cartwright explains that he must find “something like the truth” in order to help Johnson and assures him whatever he says will be considered truthful. Johnson then haltingly explains his frustration with Cameron who allowed Baxter to mock them, by refusing to answer their questions, then repeats his certitude of Baxter’s guilt. During the daylong interrogation, Johnson grows increasingly distressed over his inability to convince Cartwright of Baxter’s guilt and his sense of rightness. At one point, Johnson, intent on demonstrating his strategy with Baxter, firmly takes Cartwright’s hands, accidentally burning Cartwright with his own cigarette. Although perturbed by Johnson’s clear emotional disturbance, Cartwright continues the interrogation. As the hours pass, Johnson attempts to describe the gruesome images of past crime scenes that plague him, but does not relate the additional haunting images of Janie lying in the forest smiling at him, or Baxter’s bloodied, grinning face during the beating. Finally Johnson bitterly suggests that Cartwright and other high-ranking detectives intentionally allow subordinates to take the blame in troublesome cases and have forgotten the grisly, daily life of police work. Incensed, Cartwright declares that Johnson is a bullying brute, stuck in his low rank by his inability to deal with his work in a professional manner, choosing instead to blame everyone else for his own weaknesses. Exhausted, Cartwright pronounces his disgust with Johnson, but vows to present his case to the best of his ability to the senior officers. After the superintendent’s departure, Johnson recalls the actual events of Baxter’s beating: Johnson begins his interrogation by asking Baxter about his day, then about his wife and two daughters and quickly maneuvers the suspect into admitting he rarely has sex with his wife. When Baxter refuses to acknowledge how he channels his sexual impulses, Johnson grabs his hand and squeezes it until it is nearly broken. As Baxter realizes that Johnson’s angry tirades are increasingly more about the policeman's personal failings and frustrations, he calls the detective a “sad, sorry little man,” which results in a savage blow from Johnson. Recovering, Baxter demands to see Johnson’s superior, but is refused. Accepting Johnson’s handkerchief to mop his bloody nose and mouth, Baxter confides that he has always hated bullies like Johnson, having learned early in school that a bully needs a victim, and so he has always felt superior to those who tried to bully him. After Baxter laughs at the detective’s attempt to suggest a psychological reason behind his character, Johnson beats him again. Although aching and bleeding, Baxter insists he went to the pictures the afternoon that Janie was attacked, then baits Johnson, pointing out that it takes a pervert to know one. Johnson furiously resumes the assault only to be brought up short when Baxter proclaims that nothing he has done is as bad as the images within Johnson’s mind. Sensing a victory over Johnson, Baxter scoffs that the detective does not know anything about himself and is paralyzed by the fear of acting on his dark thoughts. Taken aback, Johnson candidly asks Baxter if he suffers the same torment and wonders if Baxter can help him. Taking Baxter’s hand once more, Johnson pleads for help and when the revolted Baxter tells him to help himself, Johnson administers the fatal blows. Back in the interrogation room in the present, Johnson mutters that he had no choice in the assault, in which Baxter played the victim in order to help him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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