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|Index||35 reviews in total|
I was made to watch this about 3 or 4 years ago in my English class. My
teacher was a successful lawyer who had quit his high paying job after
seeing this film so that he could teach English. He explained to us that
reason for him resigning was that he couldn't believe the dishonesty and
destructiveness that was caused by lawyers and judges in the court (or
something along those words, I don't remember precisely). Anyway, I
he was mad but when I watched it I was very surprised, firstly that this
film had never come to my attention before, or the case for that matter
secondly that the quality of the movie was almost genius. I didn't
understand at the time how seemingly good actors like this had not been
getting any media coverage since, or not that I knew of.
Afterwards I was glad I saw it in the English class and got a top grade for my review of it and I subsequently bought the DVD. Paul Reynolds and Christopher Eccleston make the best performances but there's also some good smaller roles in the movie. Not a masterpiece but certainly an underrated but memorable film.
A shocking portrayal of the use of the Death Penalty in the United Kingdom during the 1950's. A mentally unstable young man with epilepsy called Derek Bentley faces the gallows for a crime he did not commit, While the accomplice, Christopher Craig, who did fire the fatal shot, only serves time at Her Majesties Pleasure. In reality Christopher Craig only served 10 years while Derek Bentley had his life taken away. A gritty drama telling of Bentley and Craig's criminal exploits in South London shortly after the war.
This is a very convincing film of the life of Derek Bentley and his eventual
execution. 1950s Britain is just beginning to emerge from the years of
post-War austerity with all of the milk bars, pop records and teddy boy
youth culture showing a new, malign confidence. The undercurrent is
definitely youth crime gone wild. But is Derek Bentley really one of the
Christopher Eccleston is absolutely brilliant playing Bentley, and truly captures the inner torment and diffidence of a young man suffering from years of epilepsy and failure at school. Bentley is clearly not normal and probably more impressionable than most people of his age this is the essence of this tragic story. He wants to be like everyone else but stupidly chooses the wrong people or do they choose him?
You are never sure whether Bentley's friend Chris Craig (the brilliant Paul Reynolds) is a nasty piece of work or maybe someone else led astray, this time by his truly monstrous, menacing older brother Niven Craig (Mark McGann) who he sees receiving 10 years for armed resistance to police arrest. Who is Craig - is he Pinkie in Brighton Rock (Boulting 1947), Jimmy Hanley in the Blue Lamp (Dearden, 1950) or one of the famous five with a gun?
After his brother's trial, Chris lies down at night and then rather poignantly and in a nice little flourish from director Peter Medak lays down his handgun on his bedside table, finding a gap amongst his toy cars, trams and aeroplanes. Perhaps he's just a naïve little kid after all.
When the gang goes to the cinema what else would they watch but a Jimmy Cagney gangster movie? Maybe if they'd watched the Blue Lamp instead they would have been warned off.
Anyway, Bentley clearly did not murder the policeman on the rooftop - that was Craig (some say it was a policeman's bullet gone astray). Bentley was executed for a crime he did not commit, pure and simple.
Good, haunting musical score by Michael Kamen.
I did not know about this case before I watched this film, but the synopsis on the back of the video case was so compelling I had to rent it. I did not expect to be emotionally involved but it was hard to keep from shouting at the TV screen that it's unfair. The system portrayed seemed almost hellbent on sending Derek to the gallows, guilty or not. Even when evidence seem tainted or appeared to cast doubts on the veracity of some of the testimonies, the only cry ringing out was that a cop was killed and someone's blood must be spilled in revenge. It is chilling to know that sometimes justice can be blinded when emotions are involved, showing how important it must be to fully understand the implications before imposing any penalties which cannot be reversed even if desired.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This review contains what may be considered as SPOILERS by those who do not
know the true story on which this film is based.
Derek Bentley was one of the most unfortunate men to suffer the death penalty in Britain. He was mentally sub-normal, he didn't kill anyone personally and even his fatal cry to his accomplice, Christopher Craig, echoed in this film's title, was disputed in court and is anyway ambiguous in meaning. And even after his conviction, both judge and jury recommended clemency. But a policeman had died, Craig (who shot him) was too young to hang and so Bentley was murdered by the state.
The strength of Peter Medak's reconstruction of these events is that neither man is presented as a devil or an angel; Craig (played by Paul Reynolds) is just a boy with fantasies of becoming a gangster (but no less dangerous for that); Bentley (Chris Ecclestone) a sad and lonely figure, motivated by the desperate need to belong. Both young actors are excellent. Their portrayals are set against a bleak but convincing backdrop of the forgotten rhythms of life in austerity Britain, a period (perhaps because it predated rock and roll) rarely celebrated by cheap nostalgia.
'Let Him Have It' is not the most entertaining film ever made, but its power grows as you watch it. Certainly a film with the power to make proponents of the death penalty uneasy.
This movie is one of the saddest pictures ever made. Made even more sad by the fact that this is based on a true story. I couldn't believe this was Christopher Eccleston's 2nd movie; I hadn't seen him in anything before JUDE. I'm utterly speechless to talk about this movie. I noticed someone commented saying this is like DEAD MAN WALKING; that movie does not compare to this. Bare in mind that LET HIM HAVE IT WAS MADE 4 years before DMW. I felt this one was much, much, much more rendering and mournful. God bless you Brits for making films on social content with such potency; American audiences could take a lesson from you: SCUM, LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER, ALFIE, ...if, TRAINSPOTTING (best movie ever made)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film inflamed me with frustration and anger when i watched it, not at
any failing in its telling, but at the injustice and state brutality which
took place within it. This film is a lovingly crafted character driven
set in 1950's England, covering the true story of Derek Bentley, a young
epileptic man of limited intelligence who is innocently led astray by his
younger troubled tearaway friend Chris Craig. Their initially minor law
infringements escalate to murder one night, and both end up on trial. The
films title is pivotal in this, but i do not wish to provide any spoilers
for anyone who does not know the true story.
the plot isn't the primary focus of this film, however compelling and obviously important it is. The film centres on the relationships between Derek and those he knows, his family, Chris, and the gang that he and Chris join (Derek for acceptance, and Chris to emulate the American gangsters he sees at the cinema and impress his thuggish brother). The cast are totally convincing, Christopher Eccleston giving a very accomplished performance as a simple man thrust into complex circumstances, and Paul Reynolds is also perfect as the playful but insecure troublemaker who fires the fatal shot. the film is essentially an account of the interactions and emotions of a small group of people put in a terrible situation, of innocence robbed, and of state brutality (you'll clench your fists at the ignorance and insensitivity). it's not an explosive film, it doesn't throw up audiovisual storms of any kind, it just follows the lives of these characters, rooting the film in the reality on which it is based. i cried at the end you know, i thought i might and then i did, it's one of those sorts of films. but please do watch it, i promise it's more interesting than i've made it sound.
Eventually, in 1993 the then Home Secretary Michael Howard granted
Bentley a partial pardon, saying it was clear he should never have been
hanged but he remained guilty of taking part in the murder.
Iris Bentley (Dereks mother) died in 1997 before the case was referred back to the Appeal Court.
In 1998 the Appeal Court quashed Bentley's conviction on the grounds the original trial judge was biased against the defendants and misdirected the jury on points of law.
Scientific evidence also showed the three police officers who testified about Bentley shouting "Let him have it" had lied under oath.
Craig served 10 years before being released.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not much in the way of subtlety here,the makers' stall is set out from early on,Derek Bentley was murdered by "The State" in revenge for his juvenile partner-in-crime's murder of a policeman.They couldn't hang a boy of 16 so they hanged Bentley instead. Let's have a closer look at the facts.Firstly,this happened in 1952.There was no "gun culture" amongst teenagers.Teddy Boys,the "Hoodies" of their day,carried razor blades or flick knives.There were no drive by shootings,no drug wars.For a young man to have access to a gun was a very rare event.Christopher Craig apparently had access to a gun obtained by his older brother,a professional criminal.Very few professional criminals took guns with them on the job because if you have a gun,you will use it. In 1952 the law of the land was very clear about what would happen to you if you killed someone in furtherance of theft.You would hang.If two of you were so engaged,you would both hang. Regardless of what we might think of this law today it was in force in 1952. You cannot judge the Bentley/Craig case by 21st century standards. And this is what "Let him have it Chris" demands that you do. One of the cornerstones of the controversy is the title of the film. The defence argued that when (or,later,if)Bentley shouted that across the rooftop he meant the Craig should surrender his gun to the police. Not surprisingly the prosecution argued that he was telling Craig to shoot the policeman.Craig denies it was ever said.This turns those five words into a "verbal",the defence say,a statement fabricated by the police.Now if you think seriously about this you may find that "Let him have it Chris" is far too ambivalent to be a verbal."Shoot the bastard" would be far more to the point and there could be no argument as to its meaning.You might think that police officers would be far more likely to fabricate a unequivocal verbal. The implication that Craig was pushed off the roof is ludicrous,there is no evidence to support it.It's merely a move to further discredit the police.If you spread enough muck around some of it is bound to stick. And the emotive power of the phrase "Bentley was already in police custody when Craig fired the shot" doesn't give a true reflection of what actually occurred.He wasn't in a cell somewhere,he was on the rooftop,in the dead of night,being restrained by a police officer. Scarcely "in police custody" then, in any meaningful sense of the term. Questions about his mental acuity are,once again,beyond the remit of our 21st century overview.The degree of his handicap has been in dispute for years,but to call him a virtual mental defective is simplistic in the extreme. Certainly in these more enlightened times it is unlikely given the strongly argued mental competence issue that he would be charged with murder - I would expect a plea of diminished responsibility to be acceptable to the prosecution.But this was 1952,and I cannot emphasise enough the folly of considering events of the past through the sensibi- -lities of the present. Derek Bentley may not have been very sharp,but he knew that warehousebreaking was a crime and he went out and did it anyway.He may well have been in thrall to Christopher Craig who was clearly the main instigator of the crime,but he wasn't dragged up on that rooftop kicking and screaming. The only innocent victim here is PC Miles,whose name no one seems to remember.He was just a middle-aged London copper trying to do his job and get home safely in the morning.Thanks to Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig he never made it.
I rented this movie with not very high expectations, but I was extremely surprised. It was a truly great movie with good acting. I recommend this movie to anybody who liked "Dead Man Walking" or any other crime/drama movie. This movie was great!
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