Review: ‘Villain’

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais's screenplay, adapted by Al Lettieri, and based on a James Barlow novel [The Burden of Proof], uses a frayed shoestring plot of a payroll stickup to flesh out the sadistic actions of Richard Burton as a onetime nightclub bouncer with a handy razor who has become one of the major figures of the London underworld. It isn't just a penchant for cutting and slicing that makes our man tick. He has an entire assortment of quirks.

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s screenplay, adapted by Al Lettieri, and based on a James Barlow novel [The Burden of Proof], uses a frayed shoestring plot of a payroll stickup to flesh out the sadistic actions of Richard Burton as a onetime nightclub bouncer with a handy razor who has become one of the major figures of the London underworld. It isn’t just a penchant for cutting and slicing that makes our man tick. He has an entire assortment of quirks.

Tied to a dying mother (Cathleen Nesbitt) by a silver cord stronger than steel cable, he also is a homosexual but no run-of-the-subway version. He has a thing about a petty criminal (Ian McShane) that makes him beat him up, then bed down with him. His bete noir, however, is a dedicated police inspector (Nigel Davenport) whose sole duty is to pin something on him.

Support is strong with top honors going to Joss Ackland as a thief with an ulcer; Donald Sinden, as a Member of Parliament with not quite standard sexual demands which, naturally, makes him an ideal blackmail prospect; and T.P. McKenna, as another gang leader.

Villain

UK

Production

Anglo-EMI. Director Michael Tuchner; Producer Alan Ladd Jr, Jay Kanter; Screenplay Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais; Camera Christopher Challis; Editor Ralph Sheldon; Music Jonathan Hodge; Art Director Maurice Carter

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Richard Burton Ian McShane Nigel Davenport Donald Sinden Fiona Lewis T.P. McKenna
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