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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seconds Out
Don Revie and Brian Clough were great footballers and great managers, both from Middlesbrough (about 10 miles north of where I grew up) but the film sets them up as tragic enemies in a reputational boxing match in which stinging blow after blow is landed by each to the benefit of neither. David Pearce's novel has Clough as the admirer of Revie who turns against his hero...
Published on 6 Sep 2009 by Charles Vasey

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
It's a real shame that top-notch performances from Michael Sheen (as Clough) and Colm Meaney (as Revie) are so deeply undermined by a script full of missed opportunities and jarring inaccuracy.

This film's crime isn't so much that it makes things up - lots of classic bio-pics have done that - it's that it ignores truths that are far more compelling and dramatic...
Published on 14 Jan 2010 by classic 1965


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seconds Out, 6 Sep 2009
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Don Revie and Brian Clough were great footballers and great managers, both from Middlesbrough (about 10 miles north of where I grew up) but the film sets them up as tragic enemies in a reputational boxing match in which stinging blow after blow is landed by each to the benefit of neither. David Pearce's novel has Clough as the admirer of Revie who turns against his hero. They battle it out at key points of Clough's early career at Derby County, and at his short career at Leeds itself, and finish it off on TV. Revie leaves for disappointment at England, Clough to be reborn at Nottingham Forest, neither are ever the same again.

Michael Sheen is scary as Clough, Colm Meaney brilliant as Revie, both sound like their counterparts and even begin to look like the originals. The Leeds squad is recognisable even to me at this remove; and so is the pre-Thatcher world of self-made men running British sport with all the witless charm that they ran their businesses. The attitudes, the accents, the fashions and the locations are spot on; yet this is not a sports film, you see very little soccer, it's an old fashioned tragedy about rivalry and hubris, about genius and the deadening effect of the mediocre types who seem to run sport (as they run life). The cast are brilliant and the result a great tale.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Im not sure I'm the best in the world, but I am certainly in the top 1", 3 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
The copy accompanying this film on it's release tried to suggest you didn't need to be a sports fan to appreciate it. I am not convinced of that. An unhealthy appreciation of mid-70s football and an awareness of Mr. Clough ought, I would have thought, to be a pre-requisite. The story isn't sustaining enough for someone disinterested in those aspects.

Sheen plays Clough as well as he played Tony Blair and David Frost in prior movies. Clough was a very mannered man, so it couldn't have been that arduous for Sheen, but he manages to convey the unshakeable self-belief that Cloughie had and his massively sized ego. The John Motson style sheepskin coats and the overweight, cigar-smoking chairmen were all a little too obvious but I guess that was how it really was. Unlike Jonathan Coe's Rotters Club, which is set in exactly the same period, there are no references or influences from the wider political or economic times.

The tale is pretty true to the history. The rivalry between Clough when he was the Derby County manager and Don Revie, the all-conquering Leeds United Manager is well documented and this comes across strongly. Little was made of Clough's relationship with the bottle which ultimately cut short his life, but generally speaking it was a fair representation of what happened, at least as far as I remember. So Leeds fired him after 44 days, but the last laugh was on them as Clough went on to manage Nottingham Forest to back-to-back wins in the European Cup (as it was then) in 1980 and 1981, something not emulated by another British club to this day. Revie ended up washed out, having failed at managing England and then a stint in the Middle East. Leeds briefly recaptured the glory in the early nineties but then faded dramatically.

Some capital is made out of Clough's dependence on his number two, Peter Taylor, with whom he enjoyed success at Hartlepool and Derby. Taylor stuck to his principles having been offered a role at Brighton just before Leeds came a-calling. There is a scene where Sheen gets on bended knee to Taylor (Timothy Spall) to beg him to reunite with him. It could have been touching, but Sheen plays Clough's insincerity pretty well. Clough is actually only out for number one. Unfortunately Spall is pretty unconvincing as Taylor, in my opinion. Not his finest hour.

However the film did remind me of one of the great all-time sporting lines: when asked whether he felt he was the best manager in the league, Clough replies that he isn't sure but he is certainly in the top One. He might have been the best manager England never had and he certainly would have made press conferences a little bit more lively than we have had with the likes of Mcclaren and Capello.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, 25 Jan 2010
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This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I saw this, originally, at the cinema and I was a little sceptical. I assumed it was ALL about football, but I wanted to see it as I knew it had a great cast (Michael Sheen - genius!, Tim Spall - multi-talented). I would recommend this to anyone. Guys will love the football and girls will love the story. The film is not really about football, it's about the relationship between Sheen and Spall's characters. I confess, I haven't read the book - but I really did enjoy the film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About football but not just for fans, 13 Oct 2009
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This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Having read David Peace's book "The Damned United" I was looking forward to seeing this film. The film is based on the same events as the book rather than based on the book itself. This is not surprising as a lot of the book is extremely dark as it suggests what was going on in Brian Clough's mind in a time of crisis and would be difficult to transfer to film.

The main story is about the 44 days that Brian Clough spent as manager of Leeds United in 1974. Long time Leeds manager Don Revie resigned to become the England manager. Clough was seen as the best young manager in England at the time. He had taken small club Derby County from the second division to win an unlikely League championship in 1972. He seemed a perfect choice to bring Leeds to even more success with their star-studded team. However on closer inspection maybe his selection wasn't so inspired. Clough was a very outspoken analyst and had always accused Revie and Leeds of routinely using underhand and dirty tactics. Revie didn't support Clough's appointment and preferred current player John Giles to take over.

Rather than putting all this behind him when he took over at Leeds he repeats his old opinions to the players and announces he will completely change Leeds' style of play. He takes a hands-off attitude to daily training. Whereas Revie loved coaching the players daily and spent hours preparing dossiers on opposing teams Clough expects these star players to just get on with it with relatively little input from him.
Very poor results at the start of the season make it clear that this is a marriage made in hell. A player's revolt forces the board to sack Clough.

Like the book the film also switches between Clough's time and Leeds and his earlier management career. Here we see another reason for Clough's failure at Leeds. At all his previous coaching jobs Peter Taylor had been his assistant. Taylor did a lot of the hard work, spotting players and allowing Clough time to make good money with outspoken TV appearances and newspaper articles. Clough fell out with the Derby board and he and Taylor moved to Brighton, a small club with a rich owner and big ambitions. Taylor is happy here and when Leeds approach Clough to take over he refuses to leave and they fall out. After Clough is sacked at Leeds he realises how important Taylor is to his management style and they reconcile. At the end of the film we are told of the success the two of them had at another small club, Nottingham Forest.

There are a few interesting threads in this film. The film doesn't shy away from showing Clough as the complex, opinionated and difficult character that he was. We see his relationships with Taylor, his players and the club owners. He is always convinced that he is right and tells everybody so. This is great when things are going well, for example the first few years at Derby. However when things start to slide he still refuses to compromise and is arguably the author of his own downfall at Leeds and Derby.

All football fans are very familiar with Clough from thirty years of TV appearances and Sheen does a great job in showing both Clough's charisma and his darker side. The supporting cast are excellent, especially Timothy Spall as Taylor. The film also does a great job in portraying England and professional football in the 70's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't say i'm the best manager in the country, but i'm in the top one, 3 Sep 2009
By 
moo moo (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Brilliant film and Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall play there parts amazingly well. Sheen has proved here what a world-class actor he is in playing 'old big head' Brian Clough.
The only negative is some of the deleted scenes, especially the one when he comes in at half time and makes the players drink a bottle of brandy after a shocking first half against Leeds Utd. It just goes straight to Clough in his office which to any non football fan will make no sense at all as we are used to seeing managers in the dugout. Little things like that take the shine of it a little but there is no doubt its got a good plot with fantastic actors who pull off there roles exceptionally well.

Michael Sheen for the next James Bond??? Stranger things have happened (Derby County winning the first division for one!!!)
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golden Era well evoked, 3 May 2009
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
"The Damned United" is a thoroughly entertaining movie about the early career of the legendary British football manager Brian Clough.It focuses mainly on his brief time as manager of Leeds United in 1974 following a successful few seasons as manager of unfashionable Derby County during which he won the League Championship for them.Clough never liked Leeds' style of football nor their manager Don Revie and publicly slated them in the media , making his decision to become their new boss following Revie's resignation a puzzling one. Clough's abrasive and disrespectful approach to the Leeds players alienated him from them even further and when results went against him early on in the 1974-1975 season, the writing was on the wall for Clough and he was duly sacked."The Damned United" chronicles this whole period.The remarkable Michael Sheen acts Brian Clough superbly in this film and he is ably supported by Timothy Spall who plays his sidekick Peter Taylor and Colm Meaney as his nemesis Don Revie. The acting is excellent throughout and the whole period is portrayed convincingly well."The Damned United" is one of the best films about football that I have seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Do You Bloody Think You Are?, 8 Feb 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This in(famous) sequence in which Leeds United chairman Manny Cousins puts this question to the (about to be) sacked manager Brian Howard Clough (in response to Clough's compensation pay demands) is just one of many golden moments in Tom Hooper's masterly 2009 depiction of the life and career of the best manager England never had. Indeed, although it undoubtedly helps, I don't think you actually need to be a 'football saddo' (like me) who is always thrilled to stumble upon an early Sunday morning showing on ITV4 of the Big Match from the 1970s (the period when I actually was a football fan), to appreciate the brilliance of Hooper's film, and of Peter Morgan's screenplay (making it, for me, up with the likes of The Hustler, This Sporting Life, Eight Men Out, etc as one of the finest ever sporting screen depictions).

Of course, in the role as the Middlesbrough lad we have an astonishing and uncanny performance from the great Michael Sheen - his other 'film impersonations' have been impressive (David Frost, Bliar, etc), but none gets anywhere near his Clough - it really is as if he inhabits the role. Not to be outdone, The Damned United also features another remarkably life-like performance with Colm Meaney doing a great (and typically dour) Don Revie, the Leeds United manager whose job Clough had inherited for his 44 days in the role (as Revie went on to manage England), and with whom Clough had a publicly vindictive relationship (which in the film is portrayed as stemming from an incident where celebrated Leeds manager Revie had snubbed Clough's offered handshake whilst the latter was languishing in the lower divisions managing the (soon to be big) Derby County).

However, The Damned United is not only an impressive display of consummate acting - for example, we also have Timothy Spall, typically superb and down-to-earth as Clough's managerial sidekick, Peter Taylor, the great Jim Broadbent as Clough's chairman at Derby County, Sam Longson ('Colin Todd - a salary of £300 a week, you can't pay a footballer that'), Maurice Roėves excellent as the hard-bitten Scottish ex-miner and Leeds coach Jimmy Gordon, Stephen Graham suitably antagonistic as Billy Bremner, and (the one negative) Peter McDonald as the unconvincing (well, he's about a foot too tall, for a start) Johnny Giles - but is also a cleverly constructed, shot and edited piece of work, as it dovetails Clough's later period at Leeds, with his earlier aspirational time at Derby, thereby explaining his confrontational attitude on arriving at Leeds (whose initial training session at Elland Road is cinematic magic, as he lambasts the Leeds players for their past intimidatory approach 'You've never won any of them fairly, you've done it all by bloody cheating...'). The film's concluding sequence to the tune of Bowie's Queen Bitch in which we learn of the future trajectories of Clough and Revie's careers is also exhilarating and magical.

As you have probably guessed, I am rather a fan of The Damned United, both this film and David Peace's book on which it is based (and which paints Clough in a more negative personal light than does the film), and whilst I am sure I would be preaching to the converted in relation to anyone who has a nostalgic interest in this sporting episode, I do honestly believe that Hooper's (and Morgan's) tale should appeal to anyone interested in what is a compelling story of (variously thwarted and fulfilled) human ambition and tragedy - even my other half loves it, and she hates football!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 6 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Michael Sheen does a wonderful job, bringing Brian Clough to the screen. The blustering manager, ably supported by Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor, shows all the traits which made Clough what he was, the gadfly of club chairmen and the FA. The Yorkshire accent was great, the characters generally believable, especially in the roles of Bremner, Mackay and McGovern. The actor playing Don Revie bore an uncanny resemblance to the original, whereas The character who played Giles looked nothing like him. I'm aware that former Leeds players were angry at their depiction and I've no doubt a good deal of licence was taken with the plot. Clough was larger than life and I'm sure that this movie went down well at Derby, if not at Brighton or Leeds. It is worthwhile looking at the TV documentary of Clough's career to get a proper balance and feeling about the man's character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great football film that doesn't involve football!, 3 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I don't mind football, but I doubt I could watch a movie containing lot of it, which is probably why I enjoyed The Damned United. It charts Brian Clough's ill-fated move from Derby to Leeds where he comes uncharacteristically unstuck in his managerial attempts.

Martin Sheen is (as always) brilliant at playing the self appointed `greatest manager in England' and he's backed up by the equally excellent Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent.

You don't have to love, or even know much about, football to like this film. It's about someone who isn't quite as clever as he thinks he is. Therefore you can't help but take a little bit of evil delight in his fall from grace. However, although Clough isn't always the genius he believes himself to be, he's never far from it. So, even when he's down, you know he won't be there for long.

Good British drama - very entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That Damned United!, 16 Dec 2011
By 
Brawny Withed (Leeds, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Damned United [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
A really entertaining film The Damned United is based on the novel of the same name by author David Peace. The story concerns up and coming football manager Brian Clough and his infamous tenure as manager of Leeds United.

Starring the impeccable Michael Sheen as Brian Clough, Sheen steals the show capturing Clough's arrogance and anger in getting his own back on previous Leed's Manager Don Revie (Colm Meaney) who as the story reveals has been a thorn in the side of Clough for years.

The film is engaging, exciting and quite humorous at times. The cast is well chosen and the costumes and sets including Elland Road football ground have all been carefully taken back to the time period of the early seventies when the film takes place.

Even if you're not a fan of football the film is so much more than the beautiful game. I highly recommend The Damned United.
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