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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 I.R.A., the U.V.F., and members of his own team.

Director:

John Boorman

Writers:

John Boorman, Paul Williams (novel)
9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brendan Gleeson ... Martin Cahill
Adrian Dunbar ... Noel Curley
Sean McGinley ... Gary
Maria Doyle Kennedy ... Frances
Angeline Ball ... Tina
Jon Voight ... Inspector Ned Kenny
Eanna MacLiam Eanna MacLiam ... Jimmy
Tom Murphy Tom Murphy ... Willie Byrne
Paul Hickey ... Anthony
Tommy O'Neill Tommy O'Neill ... Paddy
John O'Toole John O'Toole ... Shea
Ciarán Fitzgerald ... Tommy
Ned Dennehy ... Gay
Vinny Murphy Vinny Murphy ... Harry (as Vinnie Murphy)
Roxanna Nic Liam 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 I.R.A., the U.V.F., and members of his own team.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The extraordinary true story of the rise and fall of the gangster, Martin Cahill. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

UK | Ireland

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 December 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Once Had a Life See more »

Filming Locations:

Wicklow Mountains, Ireland See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£286,365 (United Kingdom), 31 May 1998, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$26,771, 20 December 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,211,865, 23 May 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The house of Writer and Director John Boorman was robbed by the real-life Martin Cahill. Among other things, he stole a gold record that Boorman had on the wall, which inspired Boorman to include that scene in the movie. 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

References The Butcher Boy (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Terrific biopic
2 September 1999 | by SKG-2See all my reviews

Being Irish-American, I can tell this; there's an old joke about an Irishman who washes ashore of a new country and asks the first person he sees, "What kind of government do they have here?" The person tells him, and the Irishman responds, "Well, whatever it is, I'm against it." Martin Cahill, from what I know, would seem to share that sentiment, but not out of any political bent; indeed, he's all the more fascinating for being completely apolitical. He just rails against any government that, by definition, is there to ensure he can't make a living at the thing he likes to do the most; steal from the rich.

John Boorman's portrayal of Cahill, nicknamed THE GENERAL(the title of this movie), portrays him as the thug he can be, not only in his viciousness(the famous pool table scene), but also his selfishness(as soon as he's successful, the only "poor" he gives to after robbing the rich is himself and the rest of the gang), yet allows him his delusions of grandeur; after all, isn't that all we often have to fall back on? Of course, Cahill is quite talented at what he does, using ingenuity as much as brute force to get what he wants, like going to talk to police inspector Ned Kenny(Jon Voight) while his men are robbing a bank, not just to keep Kenny occupied, but to give himself an alibi(the look on Voight's face when he realizes he's been set up is alone worth the price of admission).

Brendan Gleeson, a regular in Irish movies(and recently seen in LAKE PLACID), makes everything Cahill does seem somehow normal, even his habit of hiding his face with his hand when he wants to avoid unpleasantness, or the fact that he lives with both his wife and her sister(Maria Doyle Kennedy and Angeline Ball, from THE COMMITMENTS), even, of course, his job. Obviously, we're not supposed to like Cahill, but like Inspector Kenny, we develop a sneaking admiration for him just the same(if there's a flaw, it's we see Kenny sinking to the level of Cahill once by punching him out, but we don't see the character arc there).

Boorman is obviously a great visual director(much has been made of the black-and-white photography - too much, in my humble opinion - while not enough has been made of his use of quick fades, which lend it a dreamlike quality), but he needs a good story to engage him. When he doesn't have it, like in BEYOND RANGOON or - sad to say, for me for the most part - DELIVERANCE, it's all empty. When he does have it, like in POINT BLANK or HOPE AND GLORY, it's engaging and compelling, and he has a great story here(isn't it funny that while he's know for his visual work, his best films, like this and HOPE AND GLORY, he also wrote?). A terrific biopic.


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