Release date1953 Based onplay Master Crook by Bruce Walker WriterLewis Gilbert, Vernon Harris, Bruce Walker (play) Initial releaseFebruary 1953 (United Kingdom) ScreenplayLewis Gilbert, Vernon Harris CastJames Kenney (Roy Walsh), Joan Collins (Rene Collins), Betty Ann Davies (Elsie Walsh), Robert Ayres (Bob Stevens), Hermione Baddeley (Mrs. Collins), Hermione Gingold (Queenie) Similar moviesRelated Lewis Gilbert movies
TaglineWILD... WAYWARD... HELL-BENT!
The slasher cosh boy
Cosh Boy (released in the United States as The Slasher) is a 1953 British film noir directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring James Kenney and Joan Collins. It was made at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.
Based on an original play by Bruce Walker, the film tells of the exploits of 16-year-old delinquent youth Roy Walsh (James Kenney) and his gang in post-World War II London.
The gang starts off by mugging women. Later, Roy becomes infatuated with Rene (Joan Collins), the sister of one of the gang members. Already having a boyfriend, Brian, she rejects Roy, to his fury. Later the gang beat up Brian. Roy menaces Rene, who eventually submits to him. When she informs him that he has made her pregnant, and urges him to marry her, he decides he wants nothing more to do with her.
Roy's mother, Elsie Walsh (Betty Ann Davies), is involved with Canadian Bob Stevens (Robert Ayres), who urges her to marry him so he can take Roy "in hand" before it's too late. Roy hates Bob.
Bob works as an assistant manager at the Palidrome dance hall, which becomes a target for the gang. Another member of staff appears on the scene who they shoot and wound.
Later that night, a mob of women arrive on the doorstep with Rene's mother, who adds that the police are on their way. Bob arrives, removes Rene's mother from the premises and decides to give Roy a thrashing - for his own good - before the police arrive in the belief that if the judge hears he has already received a thrashing, his sentence might be lighter, which will be easier for his mother to stomach. The police arrive just as Bob is brandishing his belt in readiness. Bob lets them in, and they ask who he is. He tells him he is the boy's stepfather, as "his mother and I were married this morning".
The leading officer congratulates him, then, seeing the belt in his hand, smiles, and suggests to his colleague that they go and arrest the other gang member first and come back for Roy later. Bob begins thrashing Roy as the scene cuts to outside and the mob of women listening to Roy's cries and shrieks for help. The detectives then walk away, into the night.
James Kenney as Roy Walsh
Joan Collins as Rene Collins
Betty Ann Davies as Elsie Walsh
Robert Ayres as Bob Stevens
Hermione Baddeley as Mrs. Collins
Hermione Gingold as Queenie
Nancy Roberts as Gran Walsh
Laurence Naismith as Inspector Donaldson
Ian Whittaker as Alfie Collins
Stanley Escane as Pete
Michael McKeag as Brian
Sean Lynch as Darky
Johnny Briggs as Skinny Johnson
Edward Evans as Sergeant Woods
Cameron Hall as Mr. Beverley
Sid James as Police Sergeant
Cosh Boy has also been named The Tough Guy, or The Slasher. It was among the first British films to receive the new X certificate. It was given a Certificate rating of 16 in Norway (1953), and banned in Sweden.
The film's release coincided with the trial of Derek Bentley and some media linked the film to Bentley's crimes. "Today you'd show it to 10 year olds", Lewis Gilbert commented in 2000.