Floods of Fear (1958) Movie Review

Floods of Fear (1958)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Anne Heywood and Howard Keel in Floods of Fear (1958)

Floods Hit Pinewood

With the heavy rains causing major floods and the dykes on the verge of bursting, prisoners supervised by guards are put to work reinforcing and patching up the dykes. When one of these dykes bursts it leads to two prisoners, Donovan (Howard Keel - Show Boat) and Peebles (Cyril Cusack - Once a Jolly Swagman), along with the injured Sharkey (Harry H. Corbett), a guard, ending up in the home of Elizabeth Matthews (Anne Heywood - The Brain). With Sharkey incapacitated Elizabeth feels frightened by the sadistic Peebles whilst frightened but also intrigued by Donovan who whilst serving life for murdering a woman does not seem the killing kind. But Donovan is on a mission to escape so he can get to where he is going and get revenge.

"Floods of Fear" is a British thriller filmed at Pinewood studios with some British actors such as Anne Heywood and Harry H. Corbett, yet they employ American accents, the movie is lead by American actor Howard Keel and yes it is set in America. It is a set up which makes you question how it came to be especially for those who have never come across a young Harry H. Corbett doing drama rather than the comedy of "Steptoe & Son". But when you manage to get beyond the curious behind the scenes set-up of "Floods of Fear" and what you have is a nice thriller which every now and then manages to deliver some peaks of intensity.

Cyril Cusack and Anne Heywood in Floods of Fear (1958)

Now some what unsurprisingly "Floods of Fear" is not a complex thriller as we have a situation built around the characters. There is Elizabeth who initially is scared not just of being trapped with two prisoners but also the rising flood water. We have Sharkey who wants to protect Elizabeth but also feels duty bound to try and return the convicts to prison. Throw in to the mix Peebles, a screw faced robber who enjoys threatening Elizabeth and you have a semi intense yet pretty familiar situation. But then you throw in to the mix Donovan who appears to be a contradiction as he is a convicted killer yet one who saves lives which then gives us what the movie is about, which is what really happened to Donovan, why is he wanting revenge against the husband of the woman he reportedly killed and of course the growing relationship between him and Elizabeth. I doubt the answer to this will surprise you but alongside the dangers of the roaring flood water it makes "Floods of Fear" more of a good drama rather than a memorable thriller.

On the subject of the roaring flood waters it has to be said that "Floods of Fear" is a very visual movie which when you remember this was filmed at Pinewood Studios adds to its impressive nature. Of course there is some stock footage of floods used in this but it all works together nicely to deliver a visually strong picture. Part of that strength comes from the actors with Cyril Cusack making Peebles a real shrew like character whilst Howard Keel delivers the slab of beef hero which his character calls for with him spending many a scene with his shirt off. And then there is the attractive Anne Heywood and she delivers a solid performance but the character of Elizabeth is the cliche, the innocent woman drawn in to a mess who falls for the prisoner who is the innocent guy determined to get revenge and so wants to save him from doing anything stupid.

What this all boils down to is that "Floods of Fear" is a strong drama which once in a while delivers a scene or performance which rises from being good to being intense. But it doesn't manage to keep above good long enough each time to end up a memorable drama.