The League Of Gentlemen

The League Of Gentlemen

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of The League Of Gentlemen

The commentary by husband and wife team Bryan Forbes and Nanette Newman is charming, funny (possibly for the wrong reasons), informative and full of delightful nuggets of gossip. There are times when Nanette feeds Bryan questions, as if she is playing the role of a naïve young reporter, but does it so convincingly you can’t help but smile.

“People seem to snog girls a lot in cars in those days,” she says.

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“So did we,” he reminds her.

“Kissing in cars is definitely sexy,” she reminds him.

He doesn’t reply.

The League Of Gentlemen was the first feature for the newly formed Allied Film Makers, the brainchild of Jack Hawkins, director Basil Dearden, producer Michael Relph, Richard Attenborough and Bryan Forbes. “We weren’t going anywhere,” Bryan says, “So we started our own company.” Not unlike United Artists, which was formed by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

The film cost £172,000, took eight weeks to shoot, with a few days break in the middle after Hawkins was diagnosed with throat cancer, was given a wide release and quickly made its money back.

“Was the film a success in America?” asks the young reporter.

“Yes, it was,” answers the scriptwriter.

Originally, Carl Forman wanted Bryan to write it for Cary Grant, which he did, but Grant passed. Later, the film was studied in some detail by The Great Train Robbers, before they planned their hold up. Bryan sounded quite proud of that. Of course, he and Attenborough went on to make a number of films together, notably The Angry Silence and Whistle Down The Wind. “As a partnership, he was always the optimist and I was the pessimist.” In those days, Attenborough had no ambitions to direct. “It was me who wanted to direct,” Bryan says. “He wanted to produce.”

Two passing observations: everyone smokes like chimneys and “we all had very smart hair, didn’t we?”

Nanette, helpfully, chips in. “Considering when it was made, it is very realistic acting.”

She might have forgotten On The Waterfront, which came out six years earlier.

The other DVD extra is the 1992 South Bank Show on Attenborough. This was the year that he produced and directed Chaplin, from a script by William Boyd, Bryan (that man again) Forbes and William Goldman. It has nothing to do with The League Of Gentlemen, but is a terrific documentary nevertheless.

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2007
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The League Of Gentlemen packshot
Ex-army officers execute a sophisticated maneuver to relieve a London bank of its used pound notes.
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Product Code: 7952549

Region: 2

Ratio: 1:1.78 (16.9) Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital mono

Extras: Audio commentary by Bryan Forbes and Nanette Newman; South Bank Show 1992 - Richard Attenborough; trailer

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