The Gangland London Film Festival takes place next month, bringing together some of the most iconic Brit crime flicks of the past 70 years.
All the greats are here, from Basil Dearden’s 1950 The Blue Lamp, which introduced us to PC George Dixon, through Donald Cammell and Nicholas Roeg’s Performance, with Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg, Michael Caine’s foray into the underworld of the North East in Get Carter and John Mckenzie’s 1980 East End classic, The Long Good Friday.
Taking place at the historic Regent Street Cinema over the weekend of 14-15 October, the screenings will be complemented by Q&As with film specialists, crime authors and historians.
The full running order is….
SATURDAY 14TH OCTOBER
3.00 PM: VILLAIN
Starring Richard Burton, Ian McShane and Nigel Davenport
1971’s VILLAIN is the story 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?
6.00 PM: PERFORMANCE
Starring Edward Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg
Chas, a violent and psychotic East London gangster needs a place to lie low after a hit that should never have been carried out. He finds the perfect cover in the form of guest house run by the mysterious Mr. Turner, a one-time rock superstar, who is looking for the right spark to rekindle his faded talent.
+ Q&A with Kieron Pim author of the award winning Jumpin’ Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock,n,Roll Underworld – the biography of David Litvinoff – an extraordinary man who connected the worlds of art, rock’n’roll and criminality in Fifties and Sixties London.
8.30 PM: GANGSTER NO.1
Starring Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany
A middle-aged crime boss smugly reflects back from 1999, narrating the brutality which made him triumphant – and feared. As an unnamed young hood in Swinging 60’s London, he aped his mod boss Freddie Mays, and seemed to do anything for him. But his narration exposes all-consuming envy: of Freddie’s supremacy, and especially his tall bird. The baby shark develops his viciousness and backstabbing, scheming to be Gangster No. 1.
+ Q&A with crime novelist, writer and editor, Cathi Unsworth and Andrew Hulme, the editor of Gangster No.1 (and a string of other major films….).
SUNDAY 15TH OCTOBER
2.00 PM: THE BLUE LAMP
Starring Jack Warner, Dirk Bogarde, Jimmy Hanley
New London police officer Andy Mitchell (Jimmy Hanley) is paired with seasoned cop George Dixon (Jack Warner) to work the night shift. Meanwhile, criminals Tom Riley (Dirk Bogarde) and Spud (Patric Doonan) plan a series of robberies with Tom’s girl Diana, a discontented beauty, as inside worker. But in their second crime, they are caught robbing a local cinema, George meets Tom in a face-off. While trying to coax the thief into making a peaceful surrender, George is shot, setting off a citywide manhunt. The killer is clever, but will he outsmart himself?
+ Q&A with Paul Willetts, author of ‘North Soho 999’, the true story of gangs and gun crime in 1940’s London and of the crime wave that inspired The Blue Lamp.
4.30 PM: GET CARTER
Starring Michael Caine, Britt Ekland, John Osborne
A vicious London gangster, Jack Carter (Michael Caine), travels to Newcastle for his brother’s funeral. He begins to suspect that his brother’s death was not an accident and sets out to follow a complex trail of lies, deceit, cover-ups and backhanders through Newcastle’s underworld, leading, he hopes, to the man who ordered his brother killed.
+ Q&A with Nick Triplow, author of Getting Carter a meticulously researched and riveting account of the career of a doomed genius, Ted Lewis, one of the most important writers you’ve never heard of – the writer behind the book on which Get Carter was based, Jack’s Return Home – a book which many commentators agree launched contemporary British crime writing.
7.30 PM: THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY
Starring Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Paul Freeman
Harold, a prosperous English gangster, is about to close a lucrative new deal when bombs start showing up in very inconvenient places. A mysterious syndicate is trying to muscle in on his action, and Harold wants to know who they are. He finds out soon enough, and bloody mayhem ensues.
+ Q&A with Trevor Laird. Appearing in The Long Good Friday as ‘boy under car’, Trevor has many a hilarious tale from the set of the film.
Tickets and further info can be found here.
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