Man it’s been such a lovely weekend up here in the land of the midnight sun. It’s been a perfect mix of bright sunshine, but NOT too hot so you can’t move. Also, the Sun at the moment DOES NOT SET! This means everyone has this carefree attitude to life and living. Even the nihilistic goths are walking around with smiles on their faces. Even watching Iceland’s prime cut arsehole ‘Olafur Ragnar Grímsson on TV right now cannot shake the beaming positivity from our souls.
But in the UK it’s different. There’s rain and the impending crushing oppression of celebrating the old Queenie’s diamond Jubilee celebrations. Everyone is wandering around with the feeling that they have to keep the side up by waving little flags and smiling inanely for “our Queen” and fearing the worst if you dare resist. such depressing times.
But it was never like this. Britain used to be made of sterner stuff. Of Vim, of vigour, of GRIT. And that is exactly what i’M going to show to your people tonight in our ongoing BRIT GRIT SEASON of the Sunday Cult Film Corner. (yay!)
This weeks, instalment is a tale of vicious hardened crims from the old East End, who are always nice of their mums, while at the same time putting nails through the ball sacks of their enemies. Ladies and Gentlemen, i give to you VILLAIN (1971).
Directed in 1971 by Michael Tuchner, it stars Richard Burton as Vic Dakin the “Villain” of the title. Straight from the off, he’s a brutal piece of work, cutting the throat of an associated accused of being a “Stool pigeon.” Dakin is also a closet homosexual who is in a brutal relationship with his sidekick Wolfe (played by Ian McShane). In a step away from his usual racket, he looks to undertake a major robbery of a plastic factory, while undertaking some blackmail of an MP. But with Inspector Matthews hot on his tail (played by T.P. McKenna), will he be able to get away with it, or will he be brought to justice?
While films such as GET CARTER were released in the same year to great critical acclaim, VILLAIN was a film that sank without a trace and did a lot of harm to Burton’s career as a top draw actor. The main reasoning was the upfront homosexuality of the main character, and the bisexuality of his sidekick. A love scene between McShane and Burton was eventually cut as too close to bone for the time. The Dakin character with his mother fixation, is an obvious amalgamation of the real life Kray twins, while Wolfe has the predatory skills of a survivor
Which is a shame, for VILLAIN is a slick, tense, stylish film that is definitely a flash of late ’60s/early ’70s criminal life. Containing a raft of top draw British acting talent (Joss Ackland, Colin Welland, John Hallam, etc) it contains quirky, smiling characters that ooze menace and deviance in equal measure. Unlike Michael Caine’s Carter, these guys are not cool and suave. they’re killers and scumbags, the lot of them. they way Dakin shows contempt for people they feel are beneath them, is rather chilling.
So if you’re fancying a bit of rough rugged types that like to take part in a bit of nastiness, then get your tea and bunting on the go, put your feet and stalking all cockney wanker n’ shite!