The Firm [DVD]
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Gary Oldman stars in this controversial BBC drama, playing a middle-class professional who leads a double life as the leader of the Inner City Crew, a gang of notorious football hooligans. Determined to unite British gangs for the inevitable clashes against foreign fans in the forthcoming European Championships, he comes up against the brutal opposition of a rival mob, as well as the growing suspicions of his unwitting family.
These days people are dangerously nostalgic about the sinister tackiness of the 1980s, but there's no stiffer antidote to such delusion than Alan Clarke's The Firm. This unforgettable film was made as a one-off drama for the BBC in 1988, but its cult following has grown steadily through video, thanks to a startling central performance from a young Gary Oldman, and the riveting manner in which Clarke captures the lethal, mindless energy of football hooliganism.
Oldman plays Clive "Bexy" Bissell, working-class East London boy done good: a prosperous estate agent, proud homeowner, happy husband and doting father. But his chief pleasure is to be team leader ("top boy") of a bunch of overgrown yobs who attend football matches in order to cause violence. At weekends Bexy leads his "Inter City Crew" into rucks with rival warlords such as Yeti (Phil Davis) and Oboe (Andrew Wilde), in search of what he calls "the buzz", no matter the cost to his young family and his future prospects.
The Firm was entirely shot on SteadiCam, enabling Clarke to drop the viewer right into the thick of the action and exploit some hair-raisingly authentic rowdiness from his talented cast. Among these thugs, soap fans will spot Eastenders' Steve McFadden and Charlie Lawson of Coronation Street. The Firm is a masterpiece of social-realist drama, and one of the most virulently anti-Thatcherite films of its time. An avid supporter of Everton FC, Clarke responded to Al Hunter's script because he felt that the vicious idiots spoiling football were a new breed of disgrace. The tabloids raised a stink about the film's violence, and the BBC delayed its broadcast until 1989. A year later, Alan Clarke died of cancer, But The Firm is a tremendous last testament from the finest English director of his generation. --Richard Kelly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The thrills and exuberance of 1980s football hooliganism are vividly captured by a well-researched script. Oldman's character devotes his life to West Ham's Inter City Firm (ICF), as it was in its 1980s heydey. Many details of the ICF portrayed in The Firm are realistic: the movement consisted largely of autonomous groups who united under the ICF banner on match days; and the ICF were - at the time - the most feared hooligan firm in the country.
The drama focuses on the attempts of Oldman's character to unite England's warring firms (in the manner that the ICF united the West Ham firms), but his national ambitions bring him into vicious conflict with rivals in London and Birmingham.
As a footnote, those interested in exploring the history of the real ICF could find insight in the autobiographical books of Cass Pennant. Like Pennant's books, The Firm captures the sentimentalism (and even, in strange sense, the innocence) of old-style football hooliganism.
Directed by the much missed Alan Clarke, a specialist in gritty, hard hitting, realistic drama; this film (supported by the BBC) made headlines at the time for exposing the myth that all football hooligans postcarded their violent intentions by dressing like boot boys, scarves on wrists and all. The irony of the sight of lads fighting in the latest designer gear was completely lost on the majority of middle England at the time.
The main character Bex is a smart, intelligent, respectable married man in a good job who's pastime is leading a crew known as the ICC (sic ICF?) at the weekends; a true product of Thatcher's Britain.
His wife (Oldman's real wife back then, Lesley Manville) is semi-oblivious to his exploits, although he is ably egged on by his admiring working-class dad.
Various well-known faces past and present crop up throughout the film, and there's a bit of a soap theme as Corrie's Jim McDonald and EastEnders' Phil Mitchell join in for the rucks and a bit of cockney banter.
The characters are far more believable than those in the current crop of hoolie films, yes even more than "The Football Factory" so beloved of the Loaded/FHM brigade out there. The scene where Bex lays into one of his own new boys, when he doubts he has the stomach to stand and fight when it matters, is very difficult to watch; control through the threat of fear is the priority in the mind of the hardened thug.Read more ›
Bit dated now but still a top film
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Rented from love film, shocking quality transfer to blu ray, really spoils the film in placesPublished 21 days ago by Kevin Walmsley
Not everyone'c cup of tea but very raw and Gary Oldman is terrific in this. Don't buy if your easily offended by violence or bad language though. Read morePublished 25 days ago by RICHARD
One of the best football hooligan portrayals. Gary Oldman is excellent as always and we are treated as an adult by the film makers. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Mr R P Smith
Classic early Gary Oldman Football hooliganism drama. Finally gets a Blu Ray release with all the extras.Published 1 month ago by MR M P GOULDER
Classic hooligan film (a founding film in the genre). Alas, just as I brought it (DVD version), the high definition BluRay had been released. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Eddy
The first and best hooligan drama by Alan Clark has the nasty meter flying through the roof with the (directors cut) version what you have to ask yourself here is are you ready to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bobobigtoe