Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Gangster No. 1”
By: By Brian Cotnoir
“Gangster No. 1” is, in my opinion, one of the best gangster films to have come out in recent years. The story opens with a group of middle-aged gangsters watching a boxing match. One of the gangsters, played by Malcom McDowell, appears paranoid and leaves the fight upon hearing that a man named Freddie Mays has just been released from prison. The gangster proceeds to tell the story of how his life changed thanks to a Mobster named Freddie Mays. The story flashes back to England in the 1960’s when the narrator was young and was offered a job as security and a member of Freddie Mays entorauge; Mays was regarded as one of the most powerful and well-known gangsters in England. Freddie takes the young narrator under his wing and introduces him to a world of excess, decadence, and things he could not even believe. The narrators’ fascination with Freddie Mays eventually becomes an obsession and soon he is plotting how he can take everything Freddie Mays has and make it his own. The narrator finds out through a fellow gangster that another mob boss, named Lenny Taylor, is plotting an attack on Mays and his fiancée Karen, who is played by actress Saffron Burrows. Instead of telling his boss about the hit, the narrator watches the attack as Lenny Taylor and his group shoots Mays and slit Karen’s throat. The narrator then breaks into a Lenny Taylor’s home and kills him slowly and strategically. Upon, the discovery of the murdered mob boss Lenny Taylor, Freddie, who survived his assasination attack, is charged with the murder and is convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. What follows next is a montage of how Freddie Mays organization grew with the narrator as the new leader. The narrator is shocked to find out that not only did Freddie survive the attack but so did his fiancee Karen, and now after 25 years of waiting they were finally to be wed. The narrator tries making peace and give reperations to Freddie, but Freddie doesn’t want anything to do with him. I’m not going to give away the ending of the film, but I will tell you that it’s creative, artistic, and McDowell’s character has one of the most memorable monologues I have ever seen in a film.
“Gangster No. 1” is a wonderful gangster film; as close to perfect as a person could get with the genre. The way I would describe it is “Resivoir Dogs” meets “A Clockwork Orange”. And in interesting little piece of trivia for you, the actor Jamie Forman, who plays the rival mob boss Lenny Taylor, is playing a character based off of his father in real life, Freddie Forman. This film is very violent, but the scenes with the graphic violence are done in very good taste. The dialogue of the film is also very vulgar; I think you could probably make a drinking game out of how many times they say the C-word in this film. This film is perfect for fans of crime-drama’s and gangster films.