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Villain
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10 from 560 votes
Release: 7 October 1971 (Norway) /

Villain

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director: Michael Tuchner,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Murderous, sadistic London gang leader Vic Dakin, a mother-obsessed homosexual modeled on real-life gangster Ronnie Kray, is worried about potential stool pigeons that may bring down his criminal empire. The brutal Vic cuts the throat of one bloke who has been a little too loose-lipped, afraid that his gossiping may turn into a grand operatic performance for the coppers. Vic, who enjoys playing at rough trade with his sidekick Wolfe, plans a payroll robbery and directs the blackmailing of Members of Parliament with a taste for unorthodox sex. Scotland Yard Police Inspector Matthews, playing Javert to Vic's Jean Valjean, is moving in on him and the gang. Gang-member Edgar is hospitalized for an ulcer, and Inspector Matthews might be able to make him sing. Will Edgar spill the beans to the coppers before Vic can silence him? Written by Jon C. Hopwood

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Critic Reviews

I've watched 'Villain' innumerable times since I taped it off a late night Channel 4 screening in 1999. Why? Because it's truly excellent.

Atmosphere, plot, quirky characterisations, violent action, dialogue, squalid sex - brother, it's got the lot. A far, far more interesting film than the same period's 'Get Carter'.

Scripted by venerable British comedy maestros Clement and Le Frenais from an initial novel adaptation by the simian faced American character actor Al Lettieri (and I'm sure there's an interesting story behind that process), 'Villain' is remarkably modern in its tone. We aren't presented with goodies or baddies, simply players of the never-ending game:

Vic Dakin (a darkly humorous Richard Burton) is the good old traditional mother-loving gay psychopath who enjoys slicing up informers with a cut-throat razor;

Wolfie Lissner (a superb Ian McShane, playing probably the most interesting character in the piece) is a survivor who'll do what ever it takes to survive, be it pimping unsuspecting lovelies to the elite, selling pills to late night ravers or taking the brunt of Dakin's sadisitic sexual urges;

Bob Matthews (a wry Nigel Davenport) is the disillusioned copper dedicated purely to bringing Daykin down - "I don't want a fertile imagination, I don't want to know if society's to blame, I just want to catch criminals".

And Gerald Draycott (an eternally eyebrow-cocking, seedily lecherous Donald Sinden) is a charmingly corrupt politician with a weakness for the kind of nubile young girls Wolfie supplies.

The script traces the intertwining fates of these characters after a bungled wages heist with terse, witty precision. Oddball subsidiary figures like Joss Ackland's ulcer-ridden crook (who gobbles pain-relieving hard boiled eggs during a getaway) and James Cossins' bitter, wife-hating clerk garnish the proceedings like tangily flavorous seasoning. The backdrop of grubby and grim seventies Britain is so well sketched that you can almost smell it. Jonathan Hodge's musical score is both percussively minimalist and hauntingly lyrical - very powerful. And its a rare triumph for the otherwise hack-like Michael Tuchner, who directs superlatively here with vigorous assurance.

Look out for stalwarts like Tony Selby, Tim Barlow and an uncredited Johnny Shannon ('Performance's Harry Flowers) as a copper coshing con.

"Got a hard-oh, have ya? DRIVE!!"

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