DVD region 2. Network.
in the 1970's and 80's, Britain made its fair share of TV movies,
but given the theatrical fixations of British television, they
were always referred to as 'plays' (the same reason that all British
TV used to refer to a production as being 'by' the writer - the
director relegated, as in this case, to the end of the closing
credits). Make no mistake though - 1976 production Machinegunner
is a movie, and a pretty impressive one at that.
Rossiter plays Cyril Dugdale, a Bristol debt collector (the 'machinegunner'
of the title) and would-be detective who agrees to handle a well-paid
divorce case for the mysterious Felicity (Nina Baden-Semper).
His job is to get incriminating photographs of property developer
Jack Bone (Colin Welland), who is carrying out an adulterous affair,
but after getting the shots, Dugdale finds himself caught up in
an escalating series of events - hunted by Bone's heavies who
want the negatives, he manages to just about avoid them only to
see Bone murdered by people who are just as keen to get hold of
the photographs and get rid of business (not top mention romantic)
rivals. And Felicity is refusing to reveal who her real client
is a tight, twisting mix of dark humour, noir-esque crime drama
and gritty Seventies bleakness, topped off with a heavy sprinkling
of racial tension (delicate viewers might cringe at some of the
language used here). It's got a Sweeney-esque
feel at times, with villains toting sawn off 'shooters', corruption
in high places and urban violence, and is laced through with a
black comic feel.
is excellent as Dugdale, making a pretty unlikeable character
(he's greedy, cowardly and lecherous) seem sympathetic - an actor
doomed to be remembered for a couple of (admittedly excellent)
sitcoms, he was always more than that, and this gives him a chance
to stretch dramatically. Baden-Semper (best known for Love
Thy Neighbour) is suitably seductive, aloof and untrustworthy
as the mystery woman who - in the grand tradition of film noir
- sets events in motion, and there are solid turns from Welland
and Kate O'Mara as the woman at the centre of the action.
real find then (I was blissfully unaware of the existence of the
film prior to this release) and a must for fans of cynical Seventies
is only available directly from www.networkdvd.co.uk.