HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  Black Panther, The Robbery With Violence
Year: 1977
Director: Ian Merrick
Stars: Donald Sumpter, Debbie Farrington, Marjorie Yates, Sylvia O'Donnell, Andrew Burt, Alison Key, Ruth Dunning, David Swift, Michael Barrington, Lila Kaye, Delia Paton, Edwin Apps, Gerry Sundquist, Ruth Kettlewell, Graham Ashley, Brenda Cowling, Peter Copley
Genre: BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is a true story and what you are about to see adheres as closely as possible to the facts. In the early nineteen-seventies, Donald Neilson (Donald Sumpter) was drifting through a series of jobs but never settling or making progress with any of them. He lived with his wife (Marjorie Yates) and teenage daughter (Sylvia O'Donnell) in the West Midlands, and had been greatly influenced by his time in military service, so much so that he would go off alone on self-styled training exercises. But what was he performing this training for?

To become one of the most notorious killers of the decade, in Britain anyway, as this misfit with a grudge against the world began robbing post offices for measly amounts, then graduated, if that's the right word, to shooting anybody who would get in his way during the execution of his crimes. This was such a notorious affair, especially in light of what happened next in 1975, that there was a great deal of public interest in the man the newspapers had dubbed The Black Panther, not because he was an African American militant, indeed he was a racist according to one scene here, but because he wore a black hood over his head when committing his exploits.

Therefore it was an obvious choice for some filmmakers to create a movie from the material, and so it was with director Ian Merrick who wanted to make this as realistic as possible, and screenwriter Michael Armstrong, whose background prior to this had mainly been in horror films and sexploitation, which might have you worrying about the treatment of a very sensitive subject. Yet actually the end result played down the sensational aspects and kept proceedings exceedingly drab, grim, grey and depressing, with not one moment of levity as if Neilson was affecting the whole country with his behaviour, bringing everything down to his level of loathing while the public tried to assist the police in tracking him down.

This publicity was about the only thing that cheered Neilson in this telling, as he kept press cuttings of his escapades in scrapbooks, but although the film resists delving too deeply into the killer's psychology, employing a "just the facts" approach, it does open up the question of whether Neilson was a petty criminal who allowed his evildoing to run away with him, or was genuinely mentally disturbed. The press call him a psychopath, and the fact that he was willing to resort to murder for such small amounts of cash did point to that as a reasonable assessment, as do the scenes we watch of him planning and training for his next crimes, as if he's still in the Army, though the irony is his attempts at military precision are a joke.

No matter how carefully Neilson prepares, there's pretty much always something that goes wrong, which renders him looking more like a pathetic loser than someone to be respected for his aptitude at carrying out the robberies. As if acknowledging this, his biggest crime was the kidnapping of heiress Lesley Whittle (Debbie Farrington), who he kept underground in an air shaft as his schemes to seize half a million pounds from her family wound up in tragedy, not to mention a lack of success which would be farcical if it was not so serious. This film was very controversial at the time for being seen to be cashing in on a real life case of misery, which ended up with hardly anybody catching it in its day, but looking back now it's more widely available you can appreciate Merrick was respectful for the most part, with only a shade of prurience seeping through its documentary style. Sumpter makes for uncomfortable viewing as a very unpleasant man, though the question lingered as to whether a dramatisation was really necessary. Music by Richard Arnell.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2267 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: