David McCallum is a must see as a Liverpool firebug and all around trouble maker. Don’t let the absolutely horrible opening theme by Johnny Luck keep you away. To make it more authentic the movie was filmed in the streets of Liverpool.
Sgt.Jack Truman (Stanley Baker) is a veteran detective assigned as a juvenile liaison officer. Not what he wants to do especially since he’s a bachelor who doesn’t like kids. He’d much rather be chasing down an arsonist that’s plaguing Liverpool.
His first case are the seven year old Murphy twins, Patrick and Mary. They shoplift from local merchants and finally get caught. They’re being raised by their older sister Cathie (Anne Heywood). Their brother Johnny (David McCallum) runs the local gang. They usually hang out in the playground by the local school.
Evans the head of the school thinks there’s no such thing as a bad kid. He and Jack try and get the kids some activities to keep them out of trouble. They encourage them to get involved in athletics. Johnny’s gang is too far gone for all that. The younger kids take part in an effort to prevent them from taking up a life of crime.
Jack has an uneasy relationship with Cathie and with Johnny. The priest (Peter Cushing) explains to Jack about the time Johnny rescued his younger brother from a fire and received accolades from everyone. It was his moment of glory that he wants to relive.
Johnny uses the laundry van driven by Alexander and his sister Primrose as the getaway vehicle from the fires he sets. One day he’s showing off in front of his gang outside an exclusive hotel. The doorman won’t let him in and Johnny swears to get him. Jack knows that means a fire.
Jack’s right. Johnny gets Alexander to take him to the back entrance of the hotel and pretend to deliver laundry. Johnny sets the place on fire. He manages to escape in the van while the cops are holding Alexander. While Johnny is speeding away they let Alexander go only to be run down by Johnny and killed.
With the help of one of his gang Johnny gets a machine gun. Cathie goes to the police station to tell Jack that Johnny is armed. This leads to a tense standoff at the school where Johnny is holding twenty elementary school kids hostage.
This is really good and well worth seeking out. If you’ve been a fan of McCallum on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “NCIS” check him out here.