Chronicles the rise and fall of a prominent, and particularly ruthless English gangster.

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(screenplay), (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Tommy (as Ken Cranham)
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Maxie King
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Roland
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Billy
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Fat Charlie
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Derek
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Trevor (as Anton Valensi)
Alex McSweeney ...
Bloke In Tailor's
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Storyline

A middle-aged crime boss smugly reflects back from 1999, narrating the brutality which made him triumphant - and feared. As an unnamed young hood in Swinging 60's London, he aped his mod boss Freddie Mays, and seemed to do anything for him. But his narration exposes all-consuming envy: of Freddie's supremacy, and especially his tall bird. The baby shark develops his viciousness and backstabbing, scheming to be Gangster No. 1. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

There can only be ONE. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, and brief drug use and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

9 June 2000 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Gangster Nr. 1  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£133,092 (UK) (9 June 2000)

Gross:

$30,915 (USA) (19 July 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Loosely based on the life of real-life mobster Frankie Fraser. See more »

Goofs

Freddie Mays is shown living in a groovy flat in the Lauderdale Tower of The Barbican in London in the late 60s; however the building was not completed until 1974. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[song "The Good Life" begins as scene opens at boxing match; crowd noises]
Gangster 55: [laughing] What? With Scotland Yard breathing down me neck? Fuck off. Do me a favor!
[laughter]
See more »

Connections

References King Kong (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Kill
Written by Norman Sleek
Published by Blackhill Music Ltd
Used by kind permission of Warner/Chappell Music Ltd
Performed by Albertos y Los Trios Paranoias
Courtesy of Demon Records Ltd
Licensed by kind permission from Bruce Mitchell Productions
See more »

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User Reviews

A 'Fast Take' on another gangster film...
24 September 2001 | by (Montreal, Canada) – See all my reviews

Ever since the release of Quentin Tarantino's crime drama 'Pulp Fiction'; it seems as if every other crime drama must reinvent itself. 'Gangster No. 1' falls into that category and while having many flaws, it still manages to capture the audience's attention with its' engaging tale.

This dark, stylish and graphic crime flick is the creation of UK director Paul McGuigan whose past efforts include 'The Acid House' and 'Morality Play'. And while it is crude, vulgar, violent and anti-climactic, it has all the characteristics one seeks for a crime film. The film opens with a stunning sequence in which a terribly miscast Malcolm McDowell retells his rise from a lonely soldier in a Crime Family to the head of the organization.

Paul Bettany plays McDowell's younger self mysteriously called Gangster 55; who does a superb job at capturing the rapturous rage of this young criminal. While working under Freddie Mays; played with an incredible sense of apathy by David Thewlis, we see Bettany/McDowell's character eye his position in this family on a much wider scale.

The film spans itself over 30 years and we see some superb performances from Paul Bettany, David Thewlis and Saffron Burrows. Yet, while the cinematography is stunning, the film's scale inventive and the performances outstanding - Malcolm McDowell is completely miscast. While his body of work displays his range and his acting skills a tremendous attribute, simply put - he was put in this film to sell to markets. Thewlis who also plays Mays thirty years into the future wears make up for his role and does a fine job, while Bettany's older self is played by McDowell and the scenes in which McDowell and Thewlis interact are quite uncomfortable because it simply does not feel right. McDowells' age difference empowers the scene and reminds us we are watching an actor with make-up, and another without - pretending to be the same age.

Furthermore, this film will not please everyone. This is the kind of film that unravels before your very eyes. Yet, the plot reveals itself not by actions but by the characters. In a slow-paced, methodical manner, the film's story unrolls in a manner that some might see as slow and unexciting. Yet, in order to enjoy the film one must immerse himself or herself within the simple plot that is brought to the screen with a touch of elegance with Director McGuigan's stylistic nature and wit.

While the film will not be hailed as one of the definitive gangster classics, it still is a good gangster film. And what could have brought it past the level of simply being a good watch is the disappointing last half-hour where our main character's older self (McDowell) is the focus of the film.

The first hour is told in flashback narrative sequences where McDowell tells of his rise. While the first hour harbors many similarities to other films such as 'American Psycho' (the slow, bloody, torturous deaths) and 'Goodfellas' the soundtrack accompanying the build up to a scene); it is entertaining and a pleasure to watch. Yet, the last half-hour culminates in Malcolm McDowell's present day stance as the notorious leader and his attempt to stay number one. Unfortunately, McDowells' performance pales incomparison to Bettany's and the unfortunate over the top performance by McDowell in a weak third act results in a good film not becoming a great film.

Rating: **


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