Watch Now: VILLAIN
Named by Empire in 2009 as #2 on their list of 20 greatest gangster films the audience had probably never seen, British director Michael Tuchner’s polarizing gangster flick Villain came out in the spring of 1971 and failed to make a box office impression in the States, in large part due to its heavy cockney dialect. The ruthless crime film with complex characters and some graphic violence did much better in Europe, as expected, and earned over a million pounds just in the UK, which made its star Richard Burton especially thrilled: instead of taking a salary, he agreed to shoot it for a percentage of eventual profits. The leading man Burton was surrounded by several actors of exceptional talent, such as Ian McShane and Nigel Davenport, which, accompanied by a great script and always atmospheric London locations, makes for a criminally underrated film that can stand its ground when compared to the likes of Get Carter.
Produced by the iconic duo of Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd, Jr., executive produced by Where Eagles Dare, The Long Goodbye and Angel Heart’s producer Elliott Kastner, and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais based on actor Al Lettieri loose adaptation of James Barlow’s 1968 novel The Burden of Proof, Villain tells the story of a sadistic East End gang leader Vic Dakin, a ruthless mobster with homosexual tendencies and mommy issues determined to do whatever it takes to keep his empire intact. The film is also a thinly veiled portrait of the Kray twins, the kings of London’s organized crime in the fifties and sixties.