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Villain (1971)

Villain_burton This afternoon I blew the dust off my Villain video because, yes, it's still not available on DVD, despite it being one of Britain's finest gangster flicks and starring one of Britain's all-time greatest actors.

Villain is based on the excellent mid-60s crime flick Burden of Proof by James Barlow and adapted for the big screen by top Brit screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. It's not got the detail of the book, but it maintains its mid-60s style, with Richard Burton starring as Vic Dakin - not a million miles away from the Krays in style, loving his mum, loving violence and loving Wolf, a streetwise chancer played by Ian McShane.

It's your typical crime flick of the era - the violence, the characters, the scenery and world-weiry police on his case. But it has the edge on many fronts - the hard-hitting violence, the sharp suits, the ever-so-solid British cast (a who's who of the era), a tight plot and plenty of action. It also has Richard Burton. Criticised for his role as the London crime boss by some, I can't think of many that could bring as much menace to the role as he does - right from the opening scene with the cut-throat razor.

With Get Carter so played-out, I'm amazed that Villain hasn't been given its rightful reissue. If it doesn't, bag yourself a copy off eBay - it's a must-see for anyone into British crime flicks.


Brian Breathnach

How true. A much better film than the over rated Get Carter and yet still unavailable on DVD. Whoever owns the rights missed out on a rerelease of this classic.

Memorable quote 'Get your boat down you've got claret all over it..."


Excellent review of a sadly underrated film. I've often wondered how it has stayed in the shadows so long given Burton's star power. Every bit as good as Get Carter and Long Good Friday.

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