February 27, 2017


The Krays – 1990 | 104 mins | Drama | Colour


Plot Synopsis

The Krays

They may be dead, but infamous Sixties underworld figures Ronnie and Reggie Kray still cast a shadow across British cinema that extends beyond Guy Ritchieís gangster comedies. Former child actors Gary and Mark Kemp make a surprisingly strong fist of their roles as the dapper twins, while Billie Whitelaw and Susan Fleetwood flesh out the family background. Tom Bell and Stephen Berkoff are convincing villainous victims and the world of working class clans steeped in a rough, sort-of-honourable, violence is powerfully done. Peter Medakís brutally stark biopic dwells on the duoís oedipal relationship with their mother, while implying some nebulous connection between Ronnieís homosexuality and psychotic violence. Writer Philip Ridley moderately glamorises their violent world and attributes too much humanity to what were basically just a pair of terrifyingly villains.

From their deprived childhood upbringing by a domineering mother Violet (Billie Whitelaw) and layabout father (Alfred Lynch) in the 1930s, Romnie and Reggie had an almost telepathic understanding from their early schoolground bully days to completing National Service together. From the time moment when they beat each other up at a fairground boxing match an inseparable bond was formed as their mother lectured her two boys that they stand united not fight each other. They rapidly rise through a spot of GBH and protection rackets to murderous rule of the post-war East End underworld. Their gangland empire was born from intimidation, their respect demanded by brutality so horrific that eventually even their own turned against them. At the height of their notoriety the twinís private lives take contrasting routes; Reggie falls in love with cherub-like Frances (Kate Hardie), while Ronald gets involved in a homosexual relationship with one of his henchmen. After Frances commits suicide Ronís susceptibility to bouts of irrational violence and domination of his grieving brother causes chinks to appear in the seemingly impregnable armour of The Krays. After the brazen murder of two rival villains, Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie (Tom Bell) and George Cornell (Steven Berkoff), London breathed a sigh of relief in 1969 as they were sentenced to 30 years each, thus marking the end of their bloody reign.

Production Team

Peter Medak: Director
Alex Thomson: Cinematography
Lindy Hemming: Costume Design
Martin Walsh: Film Editing
Ailbhe Lemass: Makeup Department
Michael Kamen: Original Music
Chris Rea: Original Music
Ray Burdis: Producer
Dominic Anciano: Producer
Michael Pickwoad: Production Design
Philip Ridley: Script
Gerry Humphreys: Sound Department


Billie Whitelaw: Violet Kray
Tom Bell: Jack \’The Hat\’ McVitie
Gary Kemp: Ronald Kray
Martin Kemp: Reggie Kray
Susan Fleetwood: Rose
Charlotte Cornwell: May
Kate Hardie: Frances
Avis Bunnage: Helen
Alfred Lynch: Charlie Kray
Gary Love: Steve
Steven Berkoff: George Cornell
Jimmy Jewel: Cannonball Lee
Barbara Ferris: Mrs Lawson
Victor Spinetti: Mr Lawson

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