Mr Burton as a right Villain and a lovely cup of teas…
“His face is like an old glove that doesn’t quite fit and has had to be taken in here and there…”
Which is from the back of an old VHS copy of the 1971 film Villain which apparently was based on “East End fact”.
It’s always stuck in my mind this here film has, it’s something of a classic semi-lost piece of truly British cinema and I could write and post about it all day and a week or two long.
There are classic genre-ish lines and themes in it (the main robbery goes wrong and one of them says “it’s all gone rotten Vic” and his reply is just the practical and snarled “get your head down it’s covered in claret”) but this isn’t a flash’n’dash glamourised take on such things – it’s a somewhat grittier tale and representation of and not always an easy watch.
“A lovely cup of teas ma…”
It’s the story of gangster Vic Dakin – who loves his mum – played by Richard Burton, who in the film looks gone to seed, past his prime and he has a seedy and decayed feel to him, a corrupt swagger but he still carries with a him a a barely contained tangible menace.
Particularly when he is presented with his “close” friend Wolfe’s (Ian McShane) female lover Venetia (Fiona Lewis), a scene in which his performance still makes me almost step back and hold my breath in worry when I watch it.
“She’s just some posh bash…”
In fact, the whole film has a seedy and decayed feel to it and there’s a sense that it reflects Britain’s early 1970s problems and decay in general, the optimism and affluence of post-war values falling into disrepair, bobbies on the take down Soho, corrupted leaders of the realm and a seam of almost giving up running right through the country… like later Carry On films, Sid’s laugh having changed from a life cheering innocent skullduggery to something a bit darker and more worrying.
I chap I used to know who would’ve been about seventeen when this came out said that he always thought of the world as being in black and white until a particular year.
This film’s reminds me of those times in dear old England; a world both close and yet far away, almost like a foreign country to now, with those strangely shaped old vans tottering away in the background and the police – in a way that seems both ridiculous and endearing – drive Morris Minors.
Well worth a look-see. In fact, writing about it makes me want to wander of and revisit the film…
Places to wander: Ian McShane discussing Villain, Mr Richard Burton and breakfast libations here.
Peruse the film here.