7.3/10
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The General (1998)

The real-life story of Dublin folk hero and criminal Martin Cahill, who pulled off two daring robberies in Ireland with his team, but attracted unwanted attention from the police, the IRA, the UVF and members of his own team.

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9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Gary
...
...
...
Inspector Ned Kenny
Eanna MacLiam ...
Jimmy
Tom Murphy ...
Willie Byrne
...
Anthony
Tommy O'Neill ...
Paddy
John O'Toole ...
Shea
Ciarán Fitzgerald ...
Tommy
...
Gay
Vinny Murphy ...
Harry (as Vinnie Murphy)
Roxanna Nic Liam ...
Orla (as Roxanna Williams)
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Storyline

The real-life story of Dublin folk hero and criminal Martin Cahill, who pulled off two daring robberies in Ireland with his team, but attracted unwanted attention from the police, the IRA, the UVF and members of his own team.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He was a world-class criminal and a working-class hero. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Once Had a Life  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£286,365 (UK) (31 May 1998)

Gross:

$1,211,865 (USA) (23 May 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film was shown theaters, it was in black and white but when it aired on American cable television networks, it was shown in color. See more »

Goofs

Set in 1984, the background of the anti-drug march features a car with a license plate beginning with "96," indicating 1996. See more »

Quotes

Garda: Hey Cahill! Which sister did you screw last night? Both?
Martin Cahill: Yours.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in All Over the Guy (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
What quality filmmaking is all about, in "General".
16 August 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

In a small way, I'm almost glad that all films aren't as good as "The General". It's dripping with one of those intangible elements that seems to escape other films. Sheer quality craftsmanship and excellent storytelling.

There's a very rich quality to this film. What we see on screen merely scrapes the surface of a full history that is eluded to but not entirely exposed explicitly, which is what I think works best to keep interests up. Just brilliant film work in every regard makes this story come to life. Crime, ethics, political standpoints and complex relationships.

Martin Cahill, the film's central character, is the anti-hero thief, something of a modern day Robin Hood but much more visceral. I understand that John Boorman was allegedly one of Cahill's break-in victims. From what we see in the film, he remains constant to his own beliefs and principles, even if that means breaking the law at every turn. His schemes and plots to outwit the cops are so simple and effective you can't help but like him. He's very clever despite a lack of education, and he doesn't shift to the world around him as much as it shifts for him. His biggest weakness appears to be cream filled pastries. Even if he's been beaten, he won't allow his adversaries the pleasure of seeing him suffer in any way.

I don't know how faithful the film is to the truth, history or the spirit of Cahill's actions. But one thing I do know is that the superb craftsmanship of this film should propel it on to everyone's must see list, but that's not too likely to be. At least for North American audiences this film has many things going against it. It's in black and white. The Irish accents are thick and difficult to understand at times. It doesn't seem to have the sort of advertising campaign that it deserves. And worst of all, it appears to have unanimous critical acclaim. Often great films aren't hits, they don't strike a chord with the masses, but in my book, that's fine. You can only tell the quality of a great film in comparison to one that's inferior. Personal taste aside, this film is simply done extremely well.


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