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Caretaker, The (1963)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Thrown out of an all-night café, Davies, a tramp, is befriended by a stranger, who invites him back to his house to rest his feet. Davies later admits that he has nowhere to go, and Aston offers him a bed for the night. Later that evening Davies confesses that he has been going under an assumed name and makes reference to identity papers that prove who he is.

The next morning, Aston leaves the house to visit a hardware shop and leaves the tramp with his own set of keys. Left alone, Davies spends the morning nosily looking through the junk that takes up much of the room. Suddenly he finds himself under attack by a man, who has silently entered the room. The man proceeds to verbally and physically intimidate Davies. When Aston returns, the 'intruder' ceases baiting the tramp, but when Aston offers Davies a second-hand bag he has bought for him, the man tries to grab it.

The man finally leaves, and Aston tells Davies he is his younger brother Mick -the owner of the house, for whom Aston is supposed to be decorating the property. Aston takes Davies into his garden and shows him a stack of wood which he plans to transform into a garden shed. After they go back inside, Aston offers Davies the opportunity to become the caretaker once the house is finally decorated.

Returning to the house after a fruitless attempt at begging, Davies finds the light switch is blown and the room pitch black. Suddenly he is startled by the sound of a hoover in the darkness. When the light goes on, Mick appears to be innocently vacuuming in the dark. After his fright, Mick wins Davies' trust by inviting him to be his caretaker, an offer which Davies accepts.

The next morning Aston and Davies fall out over Aston's insistence on sleeping with the window open, and the tramp's complaints about the draught. Aston tells a bemused Davies how when he was younger he was taken to hospital and forced to endure electric shock treatments to his brain. Later, Mick pulls up alongside Davies, who is seated on a roadside bench, and offers him a lift to Sidcup. After driving him round in a pointless circle, he changes his mind and forces Davies out of the car. He soon befriends him again and confides his dreams of turning the derelict flat into a smart penthouse.

That night Aston is woken by the tramp's loud nonsensical shouting and muttering. On being woken, Davies becomes aggressive, threatening Aston with his penknife and deriding him for having been in a 'nuthouse'. Aston tells Davies that his charity is over and Davies is forced to spend a night sleeping rough on the streets.

He meets Mick the next morning and complains to him of Aston's 'mistreatment'. On returning to the house, Mick twists Davies'words when he offers to help him in re-decorating the house, and accuses him of being an impostor. When Aston returns, the tramp swaps his allegiance back to the older brother and tries to talk him into allowing him to stay. Aston remains adamant that the tramp should leave and turns his back on Davies, ignoring him. The tramp tries to find the words to talk Aston round, but is faced with stony silence.