VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Hennessy (1975)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the February 28, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Niall Hennessy (Rod Steiger) watched his family die in a Belfast riot. There’s only one thing he can do now. Kill the Royal Family and all of Parliament. As he coldly enacts his plot, both the police and the IRA want to stop him. Steiger is great, as he plays a man who just wants to avoid “the Troubles” — even though his brother is in the IRA — but when he loses those that he loves, he loses his humanity.

John Guillermin was the original director, but he left to make The Towering Inferno. Don Sharp (Psychomania) came on and worked from a script by John Gay. Lee Remick agreed to play her supporting role as it reunited her with Steiger and Gay, as they had just worked on No Way to Treat a Lady.

This was based on a story by Richard Johnson — who played Inspector Hollis — and the movie was accused of making entertainment from terrorism. Samuel Z. Arkoff for American-International Pictures said, “We do not consider this a pro-IRA movie but we are very anxious to avoid public opinion in Britain. I think the film is brilliant. I realize the bombing campaign in Britain must have made people very bitter about the IRA. I ask people to see the film before they make up their minds.”

The British Board of Film Classification refused to classify the film as there was newsreel footage of the Queen altered to appear as if she was reacting to a bomb explosion. Arkoff added a disclaimer stating that the British Royal Family had not participated, but Odeon Cinemas refused to show it and EMI would not distribute it.

It’s wild that this movie came out during such a politically charged time and was either very brave or very exploitative.

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