The Offence

Loading Cover

Released At


  • 1970s

  • search party

  • united kingdom

  • great britain

  • police detective



1080p - BluRay


720p - BluRay


See More
  • A burnt-out British police detective finally snaps whilst interrogating a suspected child molester.

  • In Sidney Lumet's harrowing portrayal of police brutality, Detective Sergeant Johnson's been on the police force for 12 years. In that time, the number murders, rapes, and other felony crimes he's investigated has left a terrible mark on his psyche. His bottled-up anger and rage finally explode whilst interviewing Baxter - a suspect in a series of brutal attacks on young girls. Throughout the interview, Johnson brutally beats Baxter and reveals the state of his own mind is probably no better than some of the offenders who've comitted the crimes that disgust him. —David Claydon <[email protected]>


The Offence begins with the police station in a panic, an officer running for help in slow motion, his expression indicating that something terrible has happened. We find Sergeant Johnson (Sean Connery) in an interrogation room, fighting with fellow officers who are attempting to restrain him. He looks around in disbelief, perhaps realizing what he's done, saying "God, Oh my God."

We then flash back to Johnson and some fellow officers staking out a schoolyard hoping to catch a glimpse of a child abductor/rapist. Johnson walks the area while his other officers wait in a car. He catches suspicious glances from parents waiting outside the fenced in yard to claim their children. They aren't aware that he's a cop, only that a strange man is lurking near the schoolyard. A group of kids walking home is escorted a safe distance away, although one of the girls is shown leaving the group to head towards her own house. Getting in the car with the other officers, Johnson establishes very early that he's frustrated and isn't satisfied with police efforts.

One of the girls is abducted nonetheless, a short time after leaving the safety of the group. She is quickly reported missing and a search party is organized. It's Sgt. Johnson who finds the girl in the woods. She screams when he finds her, still in shock, screaming. She's been raped, as suggested by her torn clothes and the mud all over her. Johnson comforts the girl, quieting her down, and wraps her in his coat. He seems to visualize the abductors actions almost putting himself in the criminal's place. He's panicked when the moment is broken by the search party finding them, acting startled for a moment, as if he himself is the rapist. He insists on escorting the girl to the hospital, snapping at Lieutenant Cameron (Peter Bowles) who tells him the girl is not in any state to handle questions. He's furious when a possible witness comes in to file a report, twenty hours late. Officers are directed to search everywhere for the rapist.

Other officers later pick up Kenneth Baxter (Ian Bannen) for the crime when they find him covered in mud and scratched up, wandering around town, barely coherent. When Cameron's questioning goes nowhere, they decide they can't charge him. Johnson is somehow 100% certain that Baxter is their man, although Cameron reminds him that "you can't be certain. Even you can make mistakes." Johnson gets agitated convinced that Baxter is laughing at them.

He takes the opportunity to question the suspect himself (although he is completely unauthorized to do so) Johnson has decided that this man is the culprit and can't bear to think of him going free. Johnson brings Baxter a cup of tea and finds his attitude has become more resistant to questioning. He begins pressuring Baxter, manhandling him and intimidating him in any way that he can. Cameron is directed to charge him or let him go, unaware that Johnson has started his own questioning. Johnson starts hitting Baxter and Baxter, tries to get to another door to escape the room angering Johnson even more. Cutting between the station and the questioning we find Baxter more bloody and beaten each time. The officers respond to screams and we find Johnson called out to sign a statement, then suspended and directed to go home until he's called. Cameron mentions that it's unlikely Baxter will live.

Johnson drives home. and his mind starts recalling graphic and bloody images from past cases. We see him in beat cop uniform uncovering a particularly gory murder, which expands to include many other brutal scenes including a man falling from a rooftop and a body hanging from a tree in the woods. At home he heads straight for the liquor and starts drinking. His wife Maureen (Vivien Merchant) wakes up due to the noise he makes. She's initially angry that he's drunk and has broken her China doll. He remarks on seeing her in her bathrobe "You're a mess! What happened to you? You never used to be such a mess." He tells her he may have killed a man, and explains that pain was the only thing the man understood. He talks about the girl who is also in the hospital, and when Maureen says "at least she's alive"

He starts recalling other cases saying "I've seen them dead too you know." Maureen reminds him that he's not on his own. He says "Why aren't you beautiful. You're not even pretty." She continues attempting to help him, but he says he's always made a point of not talking to her." "Who will you talk to then?" she asks. He starts rambling about the images in his head that he can't stop, going into graphic detail about victims of brutal crimes, his anger building with each detail. Maureen can't take the details and runs off to be sick. Angry that she couldn't listen after offering, he holds her down telling her "You promised to make me happy and you didn't" revealing his frayed sanity by implying that Baxter was the person she made happy. Fortunately for Maureen, the outburst is interrupted by the Cameron, who tells him he has to return to the station as Baxter has died in the hospital.

Johnson meets with Lt. Cartwright (Trevor Howard) at the station, who is charged with performing an inquiry into the murder and obtaining the truth. Johnson attempts to describe the interrogation, but is cautioned by Cartwright when he starts describing what was going on in Baxter's mind. Johnson loses his temper several times with Cartwright, which doesn't seem to intimidate him in the least. Cartwright insists that Johnson can't know that Baxter was guilty. Johnson insists that he does know, and recalls his own handling of the girl in the woods to calm her down. "What's happening to me?" he asks Cartwright, describing all the disturbing pictures in his mind, revealing that he can vividly see the incident through Baxter's eyes. He grabs Cartwright's arms roughly but Cartwright forces him off and gets him to attempt to recount the scene. Johnson implies that Cartwright can deal with things more easily, because he doesn't get his hands dirty, having subordinate officers find the bodies. Cartwright takes offense reminding him that they've all had to do these things. Johnson keeps visualizing the girl again as is he were Baxter (with his own face) imagining her happy as he approaches in the woods and touches her face. Cartwright concludes that he has what he needs and as he's escorted down the hall, we see a flashback to the full interrogation scene.

Johnson asks about Baxter's marriage, complaining that his own wife in bed seems like she's "doing him a favor" Baxter explains that in his marriage there are other things that are more important. Baxter then refuses to discuss his wife, threatening to report Johnson and talk to his lawyer. When Baxter stands up offended at a comment. Johnson starts handling him, comparing his handling to how he handled the girls. He makes Baxter very uncomfortable reaching his hands beneath Baxter's jacket in a clearly intrusive way. He tells Baxter that he'll make him feel like the little girls. He strikes Baxter and tells him to get up. Baxter tells him he's mad. Johnson's explanations of Baxter's actions, make it increasingly clear that his own repressed desires are angering him more than what Baxter may have done. Baxter exclaims "You sad, sorry little man." prompting Johnson to strike him again. Baxter realizes that Johnson won't let him leave, Baxter starts speaking personally telling Johnson that he's always felt alone. He recounts a bully from high school, and the feeling he got from being bullied, that the bully "needed him" saying that this gave him pleasure and the bully never knew that Baxter was "having him." Johnson starts laughing hysterically when Johnson segues from the bullying into asking if his father was a big man. When he can't stop laughing Johnson says "Do you think you're having me?" Baxter calls him pathetic which prompts another beating. Baxter exclaims "I know you!" When Johnson begins thrashing him again Baxter says "Nothing I've done can be half as bad as the thoughts in your head. I wouldn't have your thoughts." Johnson calms down momentarily as if he's had a realization while listening to Baxter. Baxter puts on his coat as if to leave, but Johnson asks Baxter to help him with the thoughts in his head, recounting some of them as he squeezes Baxter's hand. He sobs "Help me." but tired of having his hand squeezed, Baxter yells "Help your bloody self!" which prompts the final beating.

Johnson recounts the scene as he waits saying "He knew. I had to kill him." We then arrive back at the beginning seeing Johnson fight off his fellow officers and coming to his senses saying "God, oh my God."


See More

Scene #1

  • Baxter
    Nothing I have done can be one half as bad as the thoughts in your head.

Scene #2

  • Johnson
    God! Oh God!

Scene #3

  • Johnson
    I had to kill him.

Screen Shots


  • The Offence trailer cover


See More