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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:

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:

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

The movie shows the raid on the jewelry manufacturers Thomas O'Connor and Sons in Harold's Cross, Dublin, which took place July 27th, 1983. The raiders use a Volkswagen T4 Transporter in the movie that wasn't in production in 1983 - this model was introduced onto the market in 1991. See more »

Quotes

Frances: [referring to her sister] Why do go around and see Tina? I don't mind.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Home video version is colorized. 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 ToldYaSoSee 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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