London was a very different place in the early 1960s. No area more so than Soho. At the beginning of a decade which would put swinging London on the map, Soho had a reputation of being seedy and dangerous. Whilst tame by today’s standards, at the time many of the clubs and shops were considered disreputable and scandalous. This is the setting for Ken Hughes’ 1963 film The Small World of Sammy Lee.
Sammy Lee (Anthony Newley), gambler and petty criminal, is the compere of the downmarket establishment, The Peepshow. Unfortunately, he’s no good at either and owes a local gangster £300. Which he has five hours to pay unless he wants a visit from the goons. This triggers a mad dash around the capital in order to raise the funds, but the arrival of an old flame from the North (Julia Foster) complicates matters.
With a new 2K restoration, The Small World of Sammy Lee brings the seedier side of vibrant ‘60s London to life. The charismatic Anthony Newley is almost hypnotic as he dashes around, wheeling and dealing in a desperate attempt to raise the funds. There are welcome appearances from Warren Mitchell and Wilfrid Bramble, amongst a list of great actors. The Small World of Sammy Lee is a classic walk on the wild side which captures the vibrancy and infamy of a turbulent era in London history.
The Small World of Sammy Lee is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Studiocanal on Monday.