Friday August 12, 2016
If you asked the average classic car enthusiast to name a film or television programme starring a Ford Anglia, most would probably say Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets while those of mature age might recall Vyvyan’s flame decorated 105E in The Young Ones. But a few may also remember Never Let Go, a British film noir shot in London towards the end of 1959. The plot has a cosmetics’ salesman buying a new Anglia De Luxe and having enough money left for only basic accident insurance. Then the Anglia is stolen by a young hooligan who is in the pay of London’s most unpleasant car racketeer and so our hero must descend into a mean world of Woodbine smoking Teds, cheap cafes with stained Formica tables and, of course, police Wolseley 6/90s skidding under railway arches.
57 years ago the Anglia 105E was a keynote new model for Ford of Great Britain; their first car with electric windscreen wipers and a four-speed gearbox, not to mention that ‘Breezeway’ styling. Here was transport that made a commercial traveller or an assistant shop manager alike feel as though they were piloting a jet aircraft; albeit one powered by a 997cc OHV engine. Dagenham also understood the value of product placement and as the opening credits featured the soon to be stolen Ford and the word ‘Anglia’ were uttered every five minutes, it was clear that this was a splendid form of advertising. Add to that a very strong cast – Richard Todd, Peter Sellers, Elizabeth Sellars, Adam Faith and Carol White – and swinging music from John Barry and it was clear that Never Let Go looked set to be high profile film. And so Ford supplied cars for the production, their marketing chaps also doubling for Faith in some scenes.
A further reason for having the Anglia co-star in Never Let Go was that it looked set to be a highly controversial production which would thus attract much attention; even to modern viewers, the violence and sense of urban despair are quite remarkable. Much of this is due to the character played by Sellers, an actor who possibly set the template for ‘troubled genius’, and his North Country spiv remains one of the most horribly plausible villains in film history. His lair is a garage filled with Austin A55 Cambridge Mk.1s and Humber Hawks although, as if to demonstrate his cheap flashy nature, ‘Lionel Meadows’ drives a 1956 Oldsmobile 88.
A further reason for investing in the DVD is the street scenes, as the film is a snapshot of a London that has now largely vanished. Much of the picture was shot in Maida Vale, giving viewers a chance to see a capital city prior to the Westway, the roads festooned with trolley bus wires and striped traffic light poles. Meadows’ garage was the old ’Trek Tyres’ - the film company paid £25 to have a neon-lit façade decorated with Riley and MG logos – and Citroen Traction Avant fans will be very distressed at the opening moments which are set in a scrapyard. Above all, Never Let Go is a picture that stars Ford Anglia 105E De Luxes and Peter Sellers with a theme song by Mr. Faith. – Who could ask for more?
Never Let Go can be bought from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Let-DVD-Richard-Todd/dp/B00006L9VA