Circus of Fear

Date: 1966
Director: Werner Jacobs and John Llewellyn Moxey
Production Company: Circus Films, Proudweeks

Stars: Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands, Heinz Drache, Eddi Arent, Margaret Lee, Suzy Kendall, Cecil Parker
Location(s): Berkshire, London

Region(s): ,


The haul from an armoured van robbery is hidden in a circus.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

Also known as ‘Psycho-Circus’ (US Title)

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After checking the time, Manfred Hardt (Klaus Kinski) walks onto Cherry Garden Pier on the south bank of the Thames. The pier stands on the Bermondsey side of the river with Oliver’s Wharf directly opposite.

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On the pier, a PLA Employee scans the river for shipping that may require Tower Bridge to be raised. Looking west from Cherry Garden Pier with Tower Bridge in the distance.

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The Employee returns to his post where he is knocked unconscious by Manfred. Cherry Garden Pier is accessed from Cherry Garden Stairs off Bermondsey Wall East in SE16.

Nearby, a launch makes its way out of St. Saviour’s Dock and heads towards the River Thames. This is the River Neckinger and the area also appears in ‘Jubilee’ and ‘A Fish Called Wanda’.

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Now residential. (RL)

A security van and escort speed through the financial heart of the City. The junction of Prince’s Street, Threadneedle Street, Cornhill, Lombard Street and Mansion House Street in EC3 with the Bank of England to the left. 'The Mackintosh Man', 'Tube Tales', 'The Sandwich Man', 'The Salvage Gang' and 'A Touch of Class' all had scenes featuring the familiar location.

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Peter also visits the financial heart and captures a 21st century background to the right.

Carrying bags of bank notes, the van’s journey continues through the early morning streets. Looking northward on King William Street EC4 with the corner of Nicholas Lane to the right.

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The journey would have been severely hampered by the roadworks in this scene from Peter.

A Gang Member (Roy Scammell) glances at his watch before looking towards the launch’s destination . . . . Tower Bridge. The Upper Pool of the River Thames with the Tower of London in the right distance.

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Peter's 21st century view looks a little busier.

Having taken road signs from the boot of Jackson’s car, two Gang Members (Gordon Petrie and Nosher Powell) prepare to play their part in a daylight robbery. The junction of Tower Bridge Road and Queen Elizabeth Street SE1.

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The rain temporarily cleared the crowds for me. (RL)

Another check of the time signals the Chevrolet Impala to be driven towards Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge Road in Southwark.

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Peter on the scene (SJ)

The two Gang Members left behind wait at the corner of Tower Bridge Road and Queen Elizabeth Street.

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The many changes speak for themselves. (RL)

The Impala reaches the north side of the bridge. Tower Bridge Approach in London E1.

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Peter again (SJ)

The camera pans with the car until it comes to a stand. Tower Bridge Approach with the Tower of London filling the background.

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Peter panned (SJ)

Jackson (Tom Bowman) and a Fourth Member (George Fisher) of the gang get out of the car. Tower Bridge Approach with Tower Bridge Gardens in the background.

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The quietest moment I encountered. (RL)

The two crooks hide themselves before pulling stockings over their heads. St. Katharine’s Way with Tower Bridge Approach behind the wall.

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Peter with a sunnier snap. (SJ)

The other Gangsters put up signs to prevent any vehicles disturbing the heist. Tower Bridge Road in SE1. The background buildings still stand.

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If only I had had access to that sign! (RL)

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The armoured van draws nearer to the waiting villains. Looking into King William Street from the junction with Cannon Street.

Approaching Tower Bridge, the armoured van driver brings his vehicle to a stand. Looking from St. Katharine’s Way towards the corner of Tower Hill and Mansell Street.

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A much changed scene. (RL)

Receiving a signal from Manfred at the jetty downstream, the bridge is raised as a smoke grenade is thrown into the escort car.

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The opening co-ordination of the decks appears to have been corrected. (RL)

Mason (Victor Maddern), the armoured van driver, and the Co-Driver (Dennis Blake) are held at gunpoint whilst sacks of money are loaded into the waiting launch.

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A bluer paint job. Peter. (SJ)

Revealed to be a member of the gang, Mason aims a gun at the Co-Driver. To the right stands the now refurbished Anchor Brewery on Shad Thames.

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Peter ensured he identified the correct bracket. (SJ)

Following a struggle, Mason shoots the Co-Driver. Looking towards the Southwark bank of the Thames from Tower Bridge.

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Again, more activity in this comparison by Peter.

The escorting Security Men (Jeff Silk and Keith Peacock) recover from the smoke grenade and radio for help. Tower Bridge Approach with Tower Hill to the top right.

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20mph! Fortunate if you can get up to 5mph most of the time. (RL)

With the haul removed from the van, gang members begin to follow the money into the launch.

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The view now from the deck of Tower Bridge. (RL)

Jackson looks across at Mason. Tower Bridge with the Anchor Brewery in the left background.

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A remodelled background for Peter's comparison.

Mason prepares to slide down the rope into the waiting launch. In the left background stand St. Katharine Docks.

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And now the new St Katharine's from Peter. (SJ)

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With the robbery completed, the titles begin to roll as the gang cruise slowly down river.

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The launch passes beneath the Thames River Police boat yard jetty at Wapping.

Back at Tower Bridge, a Detective (Bernard Barnsley) and Police Inspector (Fred Davis) spot the car bringing Inspector Elliot to the scene.

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More sightseers in Peter view.

A Police Driver (Marc Boyle) opens the door for Inspector Elliot (Leo Genn). Looking towards the wharves and warehouses of Potters’ Fields.

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And another pinpoint shot from Peter who was rewarded for his efforts by Wetherspoon's at both ends of the bridge. (SJ)

The gang approach a disused dock where they moor up. St Katharine Docks in E1.

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With thanks to Zizzi's for allowing me access. (RL)

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The cash is moved into the gang’s hideout. St Katharine Docks also appear in ‘To Sir with Love’, ‘Attack on the Iron Coast’, ‘The London Nobody Knows’, ‘The Long Good Friday’ and many more.

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Working to Jackson’s instructions, Mason purchases a car from a Used Car Salesman to take his and the unseen boss’s share of the money to a safe place.

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Following an anonymous tip off, the stolen utility van being used by other gang members is spotted heading for the M1. This is Junction 3 of the M4 where the motorway meets the A312 near Harlington in Greater London.

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The gang keep ahead of the police as more cars begin to follow. Looking west towards Harlington Bridge which carries High Street over the M4 between Hayes and Harlington.

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The Austin J4 leaves the Motorway and takes to narrower roads. Cranford Park Bridge over the River Crane on the road to St. Dunstan’s church in Harlington.

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The police cars keep up the pursuit. The road to St. Dunstan’s church with Junction 3 of the M4 in the distance.

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The shot moves with the police car as the chase continues until the van crashes and the Gang Members are either killed or captured. Cranford Park Bridge.

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Mason stops in the fictional village of Engelmere to ask the way to the Old Farm. The White Hart public house on Church Road in Winkfield, Berkshire.

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Pointed in the right direction, Mason sets off on the last leg of his journey. Church Road, Winkfield with the War Memorial to the right.

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At a disused quarry, the Ford Prefect is pushed into a lake.

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Continuing on foot, Mason carries the cash toward the isolated farmhouse.

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After the final show of the season, a line of circus lorries approach the winter quarters of Barberini’s Circus. North Street, Winkfield in Berkshire.

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The animals, vehicles and the winter quarters all belonged to Billy Smart’s Circus. Offices were built on the site after the circus moved out in the mid 1980s.

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Elephants turn off the main road and head for their winter home. Looking onto North Street in Winkfield. The only recognisable building still standing is the one in the left background.

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Finally, camels are led into the winter quarters where it is revealed that Mason has hidden the proceeds of the robbery.

Inspector Elliot arrives at the local Police Station in Windsor. Datchet Road in Windsor, Berkshire with the Round Tower of Windsor Castle to the top left.

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I could not access the car park without trespass. (RL)

The Inspector enters to meet with Detective Sergeant Manley. The entrance of the Christian Science Hall that backs onto Windsor & Eton Riverside station with St. George’s School behind the trees to the left.

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As with the previous shot the angle could not be obtained without trespass, so I settled on a "full frontal" of the entrance. (RL)

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Posing as a photographer, Elliot visits Barberini’s Circus. In the distance, the roof tops of properties on North Street can be made out in the distance.

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As enquiries continue, a police car approaches the pub where Inspector Elliot is questioning Carl Fleming, the Circus Ringmaster. Looking west on Church Road in Winkfield.

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Detective Sergeant Manley (Lawrence James) meets the Inspector as he leaves the pub after the Landlord recognises a photo of Mason. Outside The White Hart on Church Road, Winkfield.

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Manley updates the Inspector who suggests a visit to the local Magistrate to obtain a warrant to search the circus. Behind the wall across the road stands the Old Rectory next to St. Mary’s church in Winkfield, Surrey.