Dead Cert
Judi Dench Scott Anthony
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1974
Run Time: 74

Dick Francis novels are tightly written and real page turners. There is little that is excess in a Dick Francis mystery and the film makers of Dead Cert created an action / mystery with the same leanness as Francis’ writing. This is a faithful adaptation of Dick Francis’ very first novel which is both a strength and a weakness.

The weakness comes from the simple fact that a modern audience is more used to their tough guys looking and acting like tough guys all the time. In Dick Francis novels the heroes are frequently amateur jockeys, jockeys or others involved in decidedly non-tough guy professions. Francis heroes aren’t quite what you would expect and neither is Scott Anthony in the role of Alan York amateur steeplechase jockey and heir to a Kenyan gold fortune.

In most respects this is a very pedestrian production. There is little to make the viewer sit up and take notice. The special effects and stunt work are average as are the direction and acting. Judi Dench does stand head and shoulders above the rest of the cast in this production, but she manages to do that in most productions with which she is involved. The strength of Dead Cert is Dick Francis’ story telling. Francis tells a tightly wound story which always gives the audience a fair shake giving the viewer all the information they need to puzzle out the solution to the story.

This is a good stocking stuffer or gift for the Dick Francis fan and worth having a look at for any mystery fan though perhaps as a rental rather than as a purchase.

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