A sleazy film with nonstop violence and little redeeming value. The script by veteran writers Clement and La Frenais was adapted by actor Al Lettieri from Barlow's novel. If all the gratuitous violence were deleted, this film would go by in an instant. Burton is the homosexual leader of a
brutal gang of London thugs. The cops would like to get their hands on him, but he has friends all over and an alibi for every crime. Burton's current amour is McShane, a blackmailing pimp who makes his money by supplying women for the likes of Sinden, a member of Parliament. Burton's
aides-de-camp are Ackland and McKenna. The trio unites to pull off a payroll robbery of a chemical company. Ackland stashes the money, but when his fingerprints show up at the scene of the crime and he is taken in by the cops, he keeps tight-lipped. McShane gets Sinden to provide an alibi for
Burton by threatening to expose his sexual proclivities, and Burton appears to be safe. But the cop in charge, Davenport, has devised a plan to entrap Burton. Ulcer sufferer Ackland is taken to a civilian hospital from which it would be easy to spring a prisoner. It's a deliberate ploy by
Davenport, who hopes Burton will try to kidnap his associate and thereby unwittingly lead the police to the payroll money. Burton gets McShane to nab Ackland, and the three men then travel to a rough area under a railway bridge. When Burton sees the police closing in, he assumes Ackland has
trapped him, shoots his associate, then tries to get away. McShane wisely gives himself up rather than face a hail of bullets, and Burton, realizing that he can stay with his lover in jail, also capitulates.
This was Tuchner's first feature credit and should have been his last. But he did go on to make FEAR IS THE KEY, the dreadful MR. QUILP, and THE LIKELY LADS. How an intelligent man like Burton could have gotten mixed up with such trash perplexing. McShane's was the only performance that showed any
merit. It beggars credulity that Alan Ladd, Jr., who went on to make many fine pictures, and Jay Kanter, who became an executive at MGM after years in Universal's London office, could have been associated with VILLAIN.
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- Released: 1971
- Rating: R
- Review: A sleazy film with nonstop violence and little redeeming value. The script by veteran writers Clement and La Frenais was adapted by actor Al Lettieri from Barlow's novel. If all the gratuitous violence were deleted, this film would go by in an instant. Bur… (more)