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The Black Panther (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray) [1977]


Price: £11.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The Black Panther (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray) [1977] + Nightbirds (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray) [1970] + Her Private Hell (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray)
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Product details

  • Actors: Donald Sumpter, Debbie Farrington, Marjorie Yates
  • Directors: Ian Merrick
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Bfi Flipside
  • DVD Release Date: 28 May 2012
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007A0QTQC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,335 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

BFI Flipside presents

THE BLACK PANTHER (DVD + Blu-ray)

A Film by Ian Merrick

THE FLIPSIDE: rescuing weird and wonderful British films from obscurity and presenting them in new high-quality editions.

Directed by Ian Merrick, this intelligent crime drama charts the infamous killing spree which Donald Neilson, aka the Black Panther, perpetrated across England during the mid-1970s, culminating in the kidnapping and death of a 17-year-old girl.

Told with uncommon accuracy and refraining from sensationalism, this fascinating and disturbing film fell foul of a media-driven campaign on its original cinema release which resulted in an effective ban.

Special Features

  • Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Original 1980s video release trailer (2 mins, DVD only)
  • Alternative French language soundtrack, with English subtitles
  • Recluse (Bob Bentley, 1979, 28 mins): arresting short film based on real events, starring Maurice Denham and edited by David Gladwell
  • Recluse: recce footage (1978, 8 mins): recently discovered 16mm location scouting footage shot by director Bob Bentley
  • illustrated booklet with contributions from Ian Merrick, Michael Armstrong, Bob Bentley and James Oliver; original promotional artwork and full credits

UK | 1977 | colour | English language, with optional English hard-of-hearing subtitles | 98 minutes | Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Disc 1: BD50 | 1080p | 24fps | PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 | PAL | Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By T Everson on 5 Jun 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Black Panther was Donald Neilson, who became infamous for his execution of a series of crimes throughout the Midlands in the mid-70s. Though he was finally apprehended by the police in December 1975, this film was released in 1977, just 18 months after his arrest and just a few months after his trial, so the crimes were still very fresh in the publics' conscious. And that was both the making, and the downfall of the film.

Neilson is played by Donald Sumpter (more familiar to contemporary audiences for his role as Maester Luwin in Game of Thrones), who carries the film for the first 70 minutes, until the police finally make their overdue appearance. The centerpiece of the film, after Neilson carries out a few bungled robberies, one of which ends up with him killing those he was attempting to steal from, is when he plots to take a wealthy heiress hostage for a ransom. The film goes into none of the sensationalist areas that many similar true-life crime films have done, and for 'The Black Panther', this actually works very well. In real life, the police and press made a number of catastrophic errors, which are toned down somewhat here, though producer Ian Merrick didn't exactly shy away from such details. It does make a refreshing change to watch a film relay a story exactly as it happened (though even today some details are contentious), though it obviously wouldn't work for every crime film, it does work for this one. Unsurprisingly, as the film was released so soon after the actually crime, there was a press-led revolt against releasing it in cinemas.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Aug 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Black Panther is directed by Ian Merrick and written by Michael Armstrong. It stars Donald Sumpter, Debbie Farrington, Marjorie Yates, Sylvia O'Donnell, Andrew Burt, Alison Key, Ruth Dunning and David Swift. Music is by David Hewson and cinematography by Joe Mangine.

Between 1971 and 1975 an armed robber turned murderer known as The Black Panther was hunted by police as the public in the North and Midlands areas of England waited anxiously. When 17 year old Leslie Whittle became an heiress to a fortune, she was kidnapped and held to ransom by The Black Panther. It was to end in tragedy. This is the story of Donald Neilson, ex-soldier of Her Majesty's Forces, also known as The Black Panther.

The Neilson trial ended in 1976. This movie went in to production shortly afterwards, which for many would surely be too soon? Sure enough when the press and media got wind of it a storm broke, a savage campaign ensued, headlines such as "sick exploitation" were used, BBC's Sue Lawley chastised it as sick rubbish even though she hadn't seen the film, in fact at this point nobody had seen the film! It was all guess work. The film was pulled from imminent distribution in the hope that the furore would die down. A few months later it had a limited release and went down well with critics who appraised it as not being exploitive but intelligent, tactful and meticulous in its reconstructions. But the press wasn't having it, and storm two broke and councils began to ban the film in their cities, eventually the picture was withdrawn and apart from a limited, but successful, VHS release in the early 80s, the film was out of circulation and buried.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By gemimah on 5 Jun 2012
Format: DVD
As a young whipper snapper I had never really heard of this case (even though I grew up in Dudley!) I enjoyed the film and I felt the facts were presented well in a 'crimewatch' way rather than a dramatised 'CSI' kind of way which held my interest throughout. I spent some time after the film had finished looking at Wiki and it really is a fascinating case. Worth a watch.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By NGH Garlick on 17 July 2012
Format: DVD
I just want to endorse what others have written about the quality of the film and the quality of the image and sound on the discs. They're excellent and all kudos should go to the BFI for rescuing this film from totally undeserved obscurity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ian Smith on 10 Jun 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Top marks for the brilliant main feature and excellent booklet to accompany it, but what this release really needed to accompany the film was a quality documentary or two. Flipside are capable of this, just check out the wonderful package for Deep End! With The Black Panther we only get an unconnected short film entitled "Recluse" which despite winning awards didn't really do it for me. As for the main feature, it is an amazing lost gem, a real treat to discover this, and I hope the BFI keep unearthing such delights.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 17 Aug 2014
Format: DVD
Originally intended as a fictional psychological thriller before its distributors insisted the script be reworked around a notorious real case, The Black Panther was probably the most demonised British film of the 70s. Banned in many parts of the country and then pulled completely from UK screens shortly after release in 1977 and only given a brief video release, it disappeared for three-and-a-half decades after a self-righteous media frenzy about it tastelessly exploiting the then notorious kidnapping and death of heiress Lesley Whittle and murder of three postmasters at the hands of Donald Neilson that most of those same papers and news outlets had ruthlessly exploited and possibly exacerbated to boost their circulation and ratings. The timing (it opened the day after Christmas) and attempts to get Whittle’s family’s approval were certainly ill-judged, but the only moment in the film that feels genuinely exploitative is a brief bit of nudity, an unnecessary touch in a film that otherwise scrupulously avoids the lurid. Indeed, far from being a crude exploitation film, it remains at a dispassionate remove, allowing the events to speak for themselves in a low key almost drama documentary recounting of the known facts at the time (the screenplay was completely rewritten by Michael Armstrong and every detail meticulously checked by lawyers) that avoids editorialising, explaining or special pleading to simply observe the bungled crimewave.Read more ›
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