Evening my fellow wingnuts.
As i was thinking about this week’s editing of the Brit Grit season, i realised that up to now, i have been a little bit soft on you. OK, i’Ve shown some hard-boiled ’50s drama and some classic ’70s and ’80s cockerney gangster fare, but in reality I’ve not managed to show just how gritty life in Britain can get. I’ve been holding back a little.
But NO MORE! This week I’m heading straight for your cultural pressure points with a relentless zeal as i showcase tonight not 1, not,2, not 3, but FOUR classic slices of coal-black drama from one of Britain’s greatest and under appreciated screenwriters. Tonight ladies and gentlemen in a special edition of the SUNDAY CULT FILM CORNER, I give to you the films of PETER MCDOUGALL.
First of all, some of you are going to ask, “Who is Peter McDougall?” Well Peter was a man who was born and bred in Glasgow, and despite leaving school with little education, ended up writing some of the most powerful dramas in the 1970s and ’80s. Each of his creations pulled back the sheets to reveal the ills realities of working class life in Scotland at the time, and in particular Glasgow, a city marred by sectarianism, recession and violence, earning it the nickname “no mean city.” McDougall’s Glasgow was a world of dirt, blood, and emotional impotence and repression. People knew their lives were shit, but they simply bolted it down and got on with it, only letting their true anger at the world burst through after a few bevvies on the face of some poor unsuspecting bystander.
The world of Catholic/protestant sectarianism is shown in the movie tonight, his breakthrough hit, JUST ANOTHER SATURDAY. A play written in 1975 for the BBC, it casts a light on the marching season of the Protestant Orange Order, It starts Jon Morrison as John, a young man who is anticipating his role in leading his local orange lodge on a march in Glasgow. However as the day of the march progresses, he begins to become disillusioned and disgusted as his fellow ledge member become more drunk and direct increasing violent outburst at local Catholic people in the city. Parts of this play were based on McDougall’s own experiences in the marches when he was a Teenager. It shows how young men become entranced by the idea of being part of a “cause”, even if the reality of this cause is highly suspect. A highly charged lay about a dark slice of Scottish society that still exists to this day.
Next on the line up is one of McDougall’s best dramas, JUST A BOY’S GAME, Made in 1979, it stars rock singer Frankie Miller (in his only credited acting piece) as Jake McQuillam, a man weighed down by the legacy of his dying grandfather, a man considered to be one the town “hardest” men in his youth. Over the course of a single day, we see Jake strive to live up to this “reputation” as he drifts from violent situation to situation, all under the foggy cloud of alcohol and smoke, trying to stake his claim to be a “Hard man” in the area. the whole films is class above the board, from the low-key direction, to the acting. In particular you have the acting of Miller, who despite having no previous acting gigs (and having none since), more than stands his ground to more venerated actors. Also look out for comedian Hector Nicol playing the role of Jake’s grandfather, who provides a memorable final scene in the play.
Third in our line of features films is the film that McDougall is best known for, A SENSE OF FREEDOM, which details the life of real life gangster Jimmy Boyle (played by David Hayman). it details his rise to become one of the most feared criminals in Glasgow as he left a trail of bloodshed wherever he went, only for him to receive a life sentence for murder. While in prison, his refusal to bend to the will of the brutal prison system marks him out for particularly vicious treatment. But when life all seems lost, hope arises in the form of a special unit in Barlinnie jail to rehabilitate troublesome prisoner such as Boyle.
Aaaaand finally… we have none other than Billy Connolly in one of his much better acting roles as a bank robber in DOWN AMONG THE BIG BOYS. Connolly plays Jo Jo, a wealthy criminal who plans a large bank robbery. However his daughter has recently married a police offer is become part of the team tasked with finding out the people responsible for the robbery. As he realises the precarious nature of his situation, he look to place some distance between himself and the crime, but will he get away with it?
OK, that’s a lot for you all to be getting on this evening. So you all best your bottles of Buckfast and fish suppers at the ready as you watch how they used tae dae it in Scotland. Haway ya bass!