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The Damned United (2009)

R  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  27 March 2009 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 30,416 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 75 user | 144 critic | 27 from Metacritic.com

A look at Brian Clough's 44-day reign as the coach of Leeds United.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Roper ...
Jimmy Reddington ...
Oliver Stokes ...
Ryan Day ...
Mark Cameron ...
Frank Skillin ...
Dylan Van Hoof ...


Taking over England's top football club Leeds United, previously successful manager Brian Clough's abrasive approach and his clear dislike of the players' dirty style of play make it certain there is going to be friction. Glimpses of his earlier career help explain both his hostility to previous manager Don Revie and how much he is missing right-hand man Peter Taylor who has loyally stayed with Brighton & Hove Albion. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"They love me for what I'm not... ...they hate me for what I am." See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 March 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Az elátkozott Leeds United  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£618,929 (UK) (27 March 2009)


$449,558 (USA) (5 February 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to published reports, Kenneth Branagh was considered for the role of Don Revie. See more »


In the final scene, a modern, solar-powered Pay & Display parking meter is clearly visible in the seaside car park. See more »


Brian Clough: We're from the north, Pete. What do we care about Brighton? Bloody southerners. Look where we are! We're almost in France!
See more »


Featured in De wereld draait door: Episode #4.124 (2009) See more »


Love and Marriage
Written by Sammy Cahn / Jimmy Van Heusen
(c) 1955 (renewed) Cahn Music Co. (ASCAP) and Barton Music Corp. (ASCAP)
All rights on behalf of Cahn Music Co. Administered by WB Music Crop.
All rights reserved
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User Reviews

Bigmouth strikes again
4 September 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Perhaps I'd have given this movie a higher mark if I hadn't read the David Peace novel before-hand. The latter is a much more scabrous affair, real no-holds barred stuff and you really get inside the head of Mr Brian Howard Clough, one of football's most talented, successful and yet eccentric managers.

Let me start by saying how refreshing it is to get a film on a cult UK sports hero - it seems so rare, especially with Hollywood's track record of foisting any number of baseball, American football or basketball movies on us. Clough was a larger than life character, blessed, unlike many in the football fraternity, with real intelligence and the ability to mould a team of average players into a genuine team, raising them many times above their erstwhile standard of playing talent, taking unfashionable teams like Derby and later Nottingham Forest to improbable levels of success. Opinionated and outspoken at the same time, he was a natural for the burgeoning area of TV punditry in football, with a never to be forgotten drawling voice which only made his remarks live longer in the memory.

So does this movie do justice to the great man - yes and no. On the plus side Michael Sheen gives a terrific, bravura performance in the Clough role, looks reasonably like him and gets off his mannerisms and accent superbly. For one thing, it's well known however that in response to criticism from the Clough family and other real-life characters played in the film, notably Leeds' Irish midfield maestro Johnny Giles, the movie plays down significantly, for example,the novel's propensity to show Clough's alleged growing dependence on alcohol as well as the dynamics of his non-relationship with the Leeds squad, especially with the still-alive Giles.

The movie is really about Clough's relationship with three men over the late 60's - early 70's period depicted here; his Derby County chairman Sam Longson, excellently played by Jim Broadbent, who he thinks he can wrap around his finger but in the end pushes too far once too often, his right-hand man Peter Taylor, the calming voice of reason and football talent-spotter whom he fatally fails to take with him to mighty Leeds and lastly his nemesis in football, Don Revie, his predecessor as Leeds manager and the elephant in the room that Clough can't, despite his massive arrogance-bordering personality, expunge from the minds of the Leeds team. Timothy Spall gives a good performance of light and shade as "behind every great man" Taylor but the effect of his performance is weakened by his looking completely unlike his real-life prototype. No problems on that score with Colm Meaney as Don Revie (apart from a lack of height!), who nails Revie's distinctive accent to a "T".

The underlying theme of the young revolting against the old - Clough appears to be younger than most of his players, never mind the board members of the teams he manages, can only culminate in failure as Leeds show him the door after only 44 days when it's really the players who should have been sacked, although as all UK football fans know, Clough (sensibly combined with Taylor again) rose phoenix-like from the ashes to prosper at Nottingham in the late 70's.

The football scenes disappointingly, are only average however and their artificiality is pointed up even more with real-life TV inserts from the era itself, plus again the fact that the actors playing key figures in the team like captain Billy Bremner and the afore-mentioned Giles don't remotely resemble them, takes away veracity and credibility. The settings in mid 70's working-class Britain are mixed in effect and perhaps a little more contemporary background could have been sprinkled around (the miners' strike of 1973, the minority UK government political background, etc) to add local flavour. I didn't get the music chosen as the soundtrack either - Fleetwood Mac's "Man of The World" and David Bowie's "Queen Bitch" hardly seem to chime in with the story and most people know that Clough himself was an avid Sinatra fan - only hinted at here.

The screenplay does utilise some of his best-known sound bites and Michael Sheen has a great turn and volley, but whilst I enjoyed the film and certainly believe Clough worthy of cinematic elevation, the unreality of much of what I saw played against what could have been better. Perhaps artistic vision was stunted by the background furore caused by the book, ironically compromising the story of a man who rarely took a backward step himself and like old Frankie himself, truly did it "his way".

17 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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