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Oil City Confidential (2009)

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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 337 users  
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The story of Dr Feelgood, four men in cheap suits who crashed out of Canvey Island in the early '70s, sandpapered the face of rock'n'roll, leaving all that came before a burnt-out ruin - ... See full summary »


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Title: Oil City Confidential (2009)

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Credited cast:
Lee Brilleaux ...
John Martin ...
The Big Figure
John B. Sparkes ...
Christopher Fenwick ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Will Birch
Michael Craig ...
Himself (archive footage)
Andy Gill
Richard Hell
Jools Holland
Glen Matlock
Alison Moyet
Jake Riviera


The story of Dr Feelgood, four men in cheap suits who crashed out of Canvey Island in the early '70s, sandpapered the face of rock'n'roll, leaving all that came before a burnt-out ruin - four estuarine John-the-Baptists to Johnny Rotten's anti-Christ. Taking London by storm, they sped through Europe and conquered the UK with No 1 chart success, before imploding just as punk was born and America beckoned with open arms. Contributions from members of The Clash, Blondie and The Sex Pistols join Dr Feelgood with collaborators Jools Holland and Alison Moyet to tell the story of Canvey, '70s England and the greatest local band in the world. Written by Stephen Malit

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

band | punk rock


Oil City is 100% pure below sea level, Canvey Island Noir.


Documentary | Music


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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

2 February 2010 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Oil City Confidential  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


£450,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Features Iltatähti: Episode dated 9 September 1975 (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

Just Brilleaux!
17 January 2012 | by (The Levant) – See all my reviews

I don't listen to a lot of popular music so I was late discovering the Feelgoods... by the time I found out about them their best days were over. This film sets out what I missed.

It would have been much easier to have produced a talking heads bio-pic using interviews with the musicians and their connections, but instead Julien Temple gives us a clever narration tracing the history of Canvey Island (with newsreel clips from the devastating flood of 1953), the way the guys met each other and (this is the clever bit) inter-cutting it with entertaining and illustrative clips from black and white gangster films from the golden age of British film-making. I spotted Payroll (1961), The Criminal (1960), Brighton Rock (1947), but I am sure there are others in there too.

The main narrative is given by Wilko Johnson, a seminal figure in British music of the 1970s, who tells us about his personal history before and during his time with Dr Feelgood, the band which he joined and helped to make great in the early 1970s. It covers the early success with their first three albums, and relates how personal differences led to him leaving after their fourth album, "Sneaking Suspicion". The surviving members of the original line-up, Wilko Johnson, Big Figure, and Sparko are all featured and it's nice to see that they are all remain great friends.

There is archive footage of the band performing as well as interviews with Lee Brilleaux who died of lymphoma at the tragic age of 41.

If I make any criticism of this film at all, it is that we are not shown more of Gypie Mayo, who replaced Wilko Johnson as lead guitarist in 1975. He was another top-drawer guitar player whose sound drove the Feelgoods in a slightly different direction, leading to great popular success. But the film is basically Wilko's story, and let's take it as that. Big thumbs up, top stuff.

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