6.8/10
12,636
132 user 61 critic

Gangster No. 1 (2000)

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

Director:

Paul McGuigan

Writers:

Johnny Ferguson (screenplay adaptation), Louis Mellis (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McDowell ... Gangster 55
David Thewlis ... Freddie Mays
Paul Bettany ... Young Gangster
Saffron Burrows ... Karen
Kenneth Cranham ... Tommy (as Ken Cranham)
Jamie Foreman ... Lennie Taylor
Eddie Marsan ... Eddie Miller
Andrew Lincoln ... Maxie King
Doug Allen ... Mad John
Razaaq Adoti ... Roland
Cavan Clerkin ... Billy
David Kennedy ... Fat Charlie
Johnny Harris ... Derek
Anton Saunders ... Trevor (as Anton Valensi)
Alex McSweeney 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:

The King is dead, Long live the King 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

FilmFour | MGM

Country:

UK | Germany | Ireland

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 June 2000 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Gangster Nr. 1 See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,514, 16 June 2002

Gross USA:

$30,915

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$30,915
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

There is a scene where the two main actors are running around the corridors of a block of flats leading to a scene in one of the flats leading to a beating. These flats are on the Bloomsbury Estate in London. The scene is set around 1969, the estate was built in 1972/3, so wouldn't have been there. 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 Superman (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Lazy Sunday
Written by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane
Performed by Small Faces (as The Small Faces)
Published by EMI United Partnership Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

A 'Fast Take' on another gangster film...
24 September 2001 | by giancarlorocksSee 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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