Details

Cast Nathaniel Parker (Desmond Thane); James Fox (Foster); Suzanna Hamilton (Anna Raven); Jonathan Coy (Marcus); Ingrid Lacey; and John Woodnutt. Directed by Ben Bolt; produced by Joe Waters; screenplay by David Pirie and based on a book by John Mair. A BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) program, 1989. Running time 150 minutes.

 

 

Plot Summary

It's London, late 1939-early 1940, during the so-called "Phony War". Handsome young Desmond Thane, who has pretensions of writing the great war novel, is making a living by day writing for a women's magazine and boring his colleague Marcus, with tales of his night time exploits and theories on free love. Still a civilian in these early days of World War II, before the Blitz, Desmond's life appears to be close to perfect - if only his social life didn't interfere with his writing.

Then Desmond's carefree life begins to unravel. First he's stalked by the fiance of one of the woman he has had a brief fling with and then he meets the enigmatic Anna Raven. At first glance Anna appears to be the ideal woman for Desmond; ready and apparently more than willing to share her bed with Desmond and asking for nothing more than a night of love making from him in return. However, now that he's finally met a woman who appears to share his ideas on love, Desmond suddenly becomes very traditional. He wants to know more about Anna than she's willing to reveal - and this is Desmond's undoing.

One night, in Anna's flat, Desmond comes across a diary. The diary appears to be written by Anna, but by this time Desmond knows Anna well enough to realize that the diary is pure fiction - boring fiction at that. What does it mean? When Desmond confronts Anna with the diary he finds himself suddenly sucked into a whirlpool of deceit, murder, torture and probable treason.

Desmond finds himself relentlessly pursued by the sinister, well-connected Foster and his two henchmen. He is rescued, temporarily, by a feisty blond nurse. He then returns to his work at the magazine, where his colleagues treat him as though he were mad. All of his attempts to unravel the mystery of what has happened are met with stonewalling by the authorities and threats of violence by Foster and his cohorts. Eventually, in desperation, Desmond throws the remaining remnants of caution and self-preservation to the wind; making a dangerous and daring play to find the truth about Anna and the diary.

 

General Review

Although "Never Come Back" was produced as a television mini-series, Joe Waters and Ben Bolt have lavished all the care and attention on NCB that one would normally expect only for a theatrical movie. The film is reminiscent of a Hitchcock thriller.

The costumes and sets are evocative of wartime London - helping to create the perfect setting for the story. Although it does take a bit of getting used to when one first sees Nat with his hair slicked down hair and wearing a trilby hat.

The remaining assembled cast was first rate. In addition to Nat's bravura performance, there is James Fox, who is brilliant as Foster, alternatively charming, then sinister. In short, Fox portrays the perfect upper-class, establishment villain. Suzanna Hamilton is suitably enigmatic as Anna Raven. The supporting cast is excellent.

The only criticism I have of the production is that the director and cameraman tried a bit too much at times for a "film noire" effect. True, many of the scenes are set on London streets during the wartime blackout, but sometimes it is difficult to see what is happening.

To recap, if you love good, old-fashioned thrillers, you'll love "Never Come Back". If you're a Nathaniel Parker fan - "Never Come Back" is a must-have.

 

Nat's Review

Nat's performance as Desmond Thane is a tour de force of acting skill and sheer physical stamina. We watch in awe as Nat's Desmond goes from charming young cad to terrorized victim. From the beginning, he creates a multi-dimensional persona for Thane. Filmed not long after "A Piece of Cake", Nat's first television series, Desmond Thane is Nat's first starring role on camera and he is on camera virtually every second of the film.

Nat was about 27 years old when he made "Never Come Back - he's young, handsome, and thinner than he normally appears to be. The latter isn't surprising considering all the running he does in this film.

 

Trivia

What was the name of Desmond's cat?
Where does Desmond first meet Anna?
What was "the Letter to the Future"?

Status

Out on DVD

 

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