Running Scared (1972 film)

Running Scared is a 1972 film directed and co-written by David Hemmings. This was Hemmings' only film as a writer, and his first time directing. It was based on a 1964 novel of the same name written by Gregory Mcdonald.[1]

Running Scared
Directed byDavid Hemmings
Produced byStanley O'Toole
Gareth Wigan
Written byClive Exton
David Hemmings
Hugo Butler
Based onRunning Scared
by Gregory Mcdonald
StarringRobert Powell
Gayle Hunnicutt
Music byMichael J. Lewis
CinematographyErnest Day
Edited byRalph Sheldon
Distributed byParamount British Pictures
Release date
  • May 1972 (1972-05)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Tom Betancourt (Robert Powell), a student at Cambridge University, leaves after having watched his best friend commit suicide by slashing his wrists. On principle, Tom refused to interfere, having discussed the matter with his friend, who had insisted that the suicide was his choice and that he did not wish it to be prevented.

Tom then visits his friend's parents under an assumed name, and falls in love with the dead boy's sister (Gayle Hunnicutt). A complicated affair ensues.


Heather MacRae was originally cast as Ellen Case and began location filming until she was fired by Hemmings for being unable to perform, possibly for drug reasons. Although not ideally suited for the role, Gayle Hunnicutt was drafted in to take it on at short notice.


Filmed on location in Braunston, mainly around the canal and marina. Other filming took place in high street, Daventry, at Bilton Grange and at Oundle School in Northamptonshire. The film crew spent most of the summer of 1971 there and local people were asked to be extras. A film camera was positioned on top of the then disused windmill to film Robert Powell in the Austin-Healey sports car being driven through the village. The windmill was also used as the "base" for the crew.

Although the film has never been released on home video, there was apparently a 16mm version made.


Tom Milne, reviewing the film in The Times, commented that it "somehow fritters itself away into long, broody pauses and soulful searchings". Several sequences, on the other hand, were "done with a razor-sharp incisiveness that would not have shamed Losey and Pinter ... on balance, it seems worth risking the tedium to watch a born director at work".[2]

Local interest in the film is surprisingly strong. At a recent exhibition in Braunston (Braunston Festival 2010) Photographs taken during filming, as well as press cuttings, original scripts and posters were displayed to the public. The original film was intended to be shown if a copy could be located but unfortunately this was not the case. Due to the interest shown, a larger exhibition and possibly a documentary (with input from local residents) is planned for the 40th anniversary of the making of the film in summer 2011. A copy of the original film if located will be screened.

In December 2011, the film was shown twice in Braunston Village Halls; lead actress Gayle Hunnicutt was present at the viewing.[3] The copyright has yet to be determined.


  1. 'Fletch' before the cameras Thomas, Bob. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 2 August 1984: n11A.
  2. Tom Milne, "A busy week for the monstres sacrés", The Times, 28 April 1972.
  3. "Braunston back on the big screen". Daventry Express. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
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