10 Legendary Movie Criminals

8. Johnny Bannion - The Criminal (1960)

In November 1972, after London Soho figure €˜Italian Albert€™ Dimes€™ death from cancer, his loyal friend actor Stanley Baker would attend his funeral while many stayed away. The most flamboyant wreath was sent by a couple of younger friends, by then unavoidably detained, reading, €˜TO A FINE GENTLEMAN - FROM REG & RON KRAY.€™ It was destroyed by friends of the family, who€™d decided the association could bring only shame by that point. Joseph Losey€™s The Criminal, made at the very onset of the 1960s, is an oft-overlooked classic. Moody and noirish with crisp black and white photography, it stars Baker as pro thief Johnny Bannion, faced in and out of prison with an increasingly corporate organised crime network which wants to either assimilate or destroy him. Hardboiled but European in style, it cemented American expatriate Losey€™s reputation with the French critics and filmmakers at the forefront of the nouvelle vague. For everyone else, The Criminal was an odd but entertaining piece of pulp played with conviction by Stanley Baker. According to Losey, his star based his performance on his friend Italian Albert, who clearly impressed the director as €œa huge, staggeringly handsome man drove around in a smashing, big, white convertible with black leather upholstery€.

Writer/editor/ghost-writer transfixed by crime, cinema and the serrated edges of popular culture. Those similarly afflicted are invited to make contact.