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4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping True Crime Drama, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Black Panther (BFI Flipside) (DVD + Blu-ray) [1977] (DVD)
This is a minor classic of British seventies film but sadly, quite a neglected one.It provoked a tabloid furore at the time of its release (of which more later) and did not find the audience it deserved.
The film concerns the crimes of Donald Neilson, who violently robbed post offices before graduating to kidnap. His viciousness was matched by his ineptitude and resulted in the deaths of many of his robbery victims as well as the kidnapped girl, Lesley Whittle. The film also points the finger clearly at newspaper journalists whose leaking of the embargoed ransom details almost certainly contributed to the death of the victim. This probably accounts for their animosity towards the film. It is never exploitative and Donald Sumpter gives a mesmerising performance as a true psychotic, who justifies his actions as providing for a family for whom he is shown to have no empathy. Its also particularly interesting to see that the film uses genuine locations from the panther's activities such as Dudley Zoo and Redditch town centre. This gives the film an almost documentary feel. Thankfully the BFI have rescued this film from obscurity and restored it handsomely for this set. Also included is a short film by the director and a comprehensive booklet . Strongly recommended
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