Assault (1971) Review


The early 70s was a busy time for the BBFC, particularly 1971. Controversial films reigned supreme during that year. We had A Clockwork Orange, Straw Dogs and The Devils. Im not sure wether the film im about to write about had problems with the censors, but im willing to lay odds they had some issues with some of the content. Even with all that’s going on, the main thing that stuck with me, after watching it for the first time many years ago, was the soundtrack. I loved the music. Also seeing Peter Rogers as producer caught me by surprise. This is certainly a world away from his usual output, including Carry On At Your Convenience, which I think came out the same year.

Assault is a British thriller based on a novel, The Ravine by Kendal Young. It stars Frank Finlay, Suzy Kendall, Freddie Jones and Lesley-Anne Down. There’s also a young looking David Essex in the mix, and James Laurenson, who went on to play a native Australian detective in a popular 70s cop show called Boney.

What we have here is a pretty lurid thriller set around an all girls school. After one of the girls is raped, and another one murdered, in the woods adjoining the school, the police enlist the help of a local reporter and one of the teachers, to help snare the killer/rapist.

There are red herrings galore and lots of misdirection before we finally get to the big reveal, and I have to confess I got it completely wrong, which is I guess, exactly what the makers of this ingenious little thriller had in mind.

There are quite a few moments in the film which would definitely upset the politically correct brigade nowadays, including a short sequence, showing a male member of staff groping one of the girls, as she stands on a stool in the library. Im almost certain this would have been frowned upon back in 1971 but a scene like that today would never have got past the censors, and quite rightly so.

That said, this is an excellent film, which will keep you guessing right up to the end.


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I am passionate about movies and cinema generally. I love talking about them and writing about them.

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