The Krays is a chilling, if somewhat monotonous, biopic charting the rise and fall of two prominent hoods in 1950-60s London, cockney lads whose psychosexual warping leads them into ultraviolence.

The Krays is a chilling, if somewhat monotonous, biopic charting the rise and fall of two prominent hoods in 1950-60s London, cockney lads whose psychosexual warping leads them into ultraviolence.

Screenwriter Philip Ridley deftly explores the cynical amorality of the us-vs-them lower-class milieu, and the destructive effect of smothering mom Billie Whitelaw (in a superb performance) on her sociopathic twins, while virtually ignoring the standard cops-and-robbers dramaturgy of gangster films.

As the Krays, the brothers Kemp, who both had considerable acting experience before beginning their rock careers in Spandau Ballet, are just right in their deadeyed portrayal of what a rival thug calls ‘a pair of movie gangsters’. Indeed, they are among the most repellent gangsters to come along since Richard Widmark pushed an old lady in a wheelchair down the stairs in Kiss of Death.

Director Peter Medak, who knew the Krays when he was an a.d., works skilfully to conjure up a cold and eerie atmosphere.

The Krays

UK

Production

Parkfield/Fugitive. Director Peter Medak; Producer Dominic Anciano, Ray Burdis; Screenplay Philip Ridley; Camera Alex Thomson; Editor Martin Walsh; Music Michael Kamen; Art Director Michael Pickwoad

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 119 MIN.

With

Billie Whitelaw Tom Bell Gary Kemp Martin Kemp Susan Fleetwood Kate Hardie
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