Never Let Go (John Guillermin, 1960)

Obsessive desire is written on the faces of all the characters in this unpretentious British film. The teddyboy’s (Adam Faith) pugilist-ugly mouth worries itself into squishy confusion at not being quite smart enough to take the bird (Carol White), with the sparks of innocence at the corners of her mascara and wishes for better things at the pouty corners of her lipstick, away from the hard man (Peter Sellers), whose bulbous grins and oily leers can’t cover up his need to tell others he is a legitimate businessman, when all evidence to the contrary says otherwise. It is the visage of our protagonist (Richard Todd), though, whose floundering career (in cosmetics!) leads to an encounter with the former trio, that works the best at telegraphing this desire: his doughy jowls, sweaty brow, furrowed eyes, and aging-heartthrob profile tell us more about the weight of his dreams and their perpetual nonfulfillment than any dialogue can.

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