Never Let Go – Peter Sellers and Richard Todd

This Film should be much better known.

Peter Sellers as a deranged car salesman and a villainous character in ‘Never Let Go’ plays Lionel Meadows, a sinister, vicious, dishonest car showroom wheeler dealer. He a real nasty piece of work – an aggressive, tough gangster who runs his business like a machine, ticking all the boxes to ensure everything goes smoothly and he stays, king of his empire.

At this time in his life, Peter Sellers was married to his first wife Anne and during the making of this film, she said that he came home often after filming, almost possessed by the character Lionel Meadows to such an extent that on one occasion he started an argument from nothing and then threw a flower vase at his her – narrowly missing, then stormed into the bathroom, rolled up a towel and used it as a tool to smash pictures from the wall. He was living the character he played during the filming.

At this time his children were terrified of him – none of the family knew what he would do next.

Never Let Go (1960) peter sellers Lionel Meadows thuggish sinister gangster

Richard Todd in this film is a low-level cosmetics sales man struggling to make good sales figures. He has recently bought a car to help him cover more ground more easily, but due to the financial dent he couldn’t afford insurance on it. One day at work his car gets stolen by Adam Faith, who steals cars for garage owner Peter Sellers. Sellers, keeping his own garage fully legal, has another garage change the plates and such on these stolen vehicles, and then sells at a nice profit. Despite his wife Elizabeth Sellars’s wishes as well as those of police inspector Noel Willman who wants to nail Sellers for his entire operation, Richard Todd decides that this is one fight he does see through all the way, and he starts searching for his car. Besides his stolen car racket, Meadows played by Peter Sellers also has to deal with his girl Carol White, who is fed up with her prisoner life, bored with him, and is more interested in Adam Faith.

Never Let Go (1960) Tommy Towers (Adam Faith) car thief
Never Let Go (1960) ford anglia stolen car peter sellers richard todd

This film deserves to be much better known and is a minor classic of its type. Problem is that here we had two top line actors, both playing against type in the characters that they portray. Nevertheless, they are both at the top of their game here.

The role played by Peter Sellers is so wildly over the top in it’s sheer nastiness and I cant think of a portrayal that comes close. It is a career defining role for Peter Sellers but it just didn’t do that – instead he took a different path, and you have to say, a successful one at that.

Never Let Go (1960) richard todd salesman John Cummings
Never Let Go (1960) cafe rockabillie bikers richard todd british drama

There is a top rate cast here – see Adam Faith ABOVE

Other characters caught up within this story are Richard’s wife Anne (Elizabeth Sellars), Lionel’s girl Jackie (Carol White), Lionel’s muscle Cliff (David Lodge) and newspaper seller and terrapin lover Alfie Barnes (Mervyn Jones).

Never Let Go (1960) peter sellers Lionel Meadows Jackie (Carol White)
Never Let Go (1960) richard todd John Cummings Anne Elizabeth Sellars

ABOVE – Richard Todd with Elizabeth Sellars

With its blistering jazz score from composer John Barry and director John Guillermin’s fast paced story, this is a rapid-fire, entertaining film. Add to that the cinematography and first-rate performances from a great group of actors and the novelty of seeing Peter Sellers in such a part, it all adds up to making this such a superb film.

Never Let Go (1960) peter sellers Lionel Meadows car showroom dealer gangster

The end scene is quite unique. Also with the mannerisms and controlling ways Lionel uses his power over, not only with his young terrified girlfriend, but also everyone who happens to be in his way. The mad smile and quirky voice from within the shadows is both menacing and fascinating at the same time.

This is definitely a superb gem of British film drama and well worth seeing.

ABOVE – Stills from the film

David Lodge beats up Richard Todd ABOVE

ABOVE – Mervyn Johns as a terrified older man living in mortal fear of Lionel Meadows

Richard Todd very much the worse for wear BELOW

ABOVE – an action shot in the final violent confrontation

I am tempted to say that Peter Sellers in this film plays Lionel Meadows in a role so dominant that I thought of Robert Newton as Long John Silver – but that is not quite the case as Robert Newton’s role had some humour and appeal whereas Lionel Meadows has none.

Only in the way those roles are played do I see some small similarity – both powerful.

However Robert Newton in his role is remembered to this day but Peter Sellers in this is virtually completely forgotten

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