As a film about football and, in certain, football hooliganism I actually wasn’t expecting to get pleasure from Cass quite much as a rule it would be the sort of low-budget, grubby British film that I would generally seek to stay away from. Thankfully, it is not at all what I anticipated and in no way standard of its genre which is quite fitting as by all accounts Cass Pennant, on whose memoir it is primarily based, has led a outstanding life.
Pennant’s biological mother left Jamaica whilst pregnant for the UK in 1958 six weeks soon after he was born he was abandoned and rehomed by Dr. Barnados with a middle-aged white couple from Slade Green. Pennant had been christened Carol (a common West Indian boy’s name) and that, along with becoming the only black kid in the neighbourhood, ensured that he was the target of constant bullying and standard beatings.
Whilst at school Pennant adopted the name of ‘Cass’ inspired by his boxing hero Cassius Clay and made firm pals with Freeman (Leo Gregory) and Prentice (Gavin Brocker). As devoted followers of West Ham United the 3 teenagers drifted into football violence, becoming members of the notorious Inter City Firm. In the course of the early 1980s Cass Pennant emerged as a single of the most prominent leaders of the ICF.
Set against the back drop of mass unemployment, the miners’ strike and the basic malaise of Margaret Thatcher’s “Me” generation the film authentically recreates the period and is specially attentive to the fashions of the day. Le Thugs Nouvelle, as the tabloids sometimes referred to the football hooligans, dressed impeccably for the terraces in Pringle or Lyle & Scott jumpers and Fila or Sergio Tacchini tracksuit tops evolving the Mod style and establishing the distinctive Casuals appear that is undergoing a significant revival these days.
Cass always strived to ensure that the ICF had been perceived as the most effective, most formidable and most fashionable mob which he measured by the number of front page headlines devoted to their exploits that had been planned with both an enterprising and military flare. Cass had calling cards printed that just stated “Congratulations. You have just met the ICF.” and right after one savagely executed revenge attack on the Newcastle United gang Pennant was arrested for grievous bodily harm and causing an affray historically he was the 1st football hooligan to be served with a prison sentence.
While in Wormwood Scrubs Cass shared a cell with a Rastafarian who challenged him to examine his Afro-Caribbean roots, in a single of the movie’s a lot more intriguing sequences Cass articulates that he was “fighting due to the fact of the colour of his skin once again only this time the hate was coming from an additional direction” and that the only heritage he ever felt he had was with West Ham. In the course of his time in jail Cass started to write his autobiography only to have his several notebooks confiscated on his departure.
Cass received a hero’s welcome and was reunited with his adoptive parents, Doll (Linda Bassett) and Cecil (Peter Wright) who reluctantly told him that his biological mother had been writing to him via Dr. Barnados, a lot to Doll’s relief Cass maintains they are his true loved ones and agreed to attempt keep out of trouble and settle down. He began dating Elaine (Nathalie Press) and even though he promised that his violent life was behind him he was drawn back in soon after a vicious razor blade attack on Prentice by Arsenal supporters left him with numerous scars to the face.
Throughout the retaliation Cass sustained a knife wound and retreated to his flat to be confronted by Elaine who dropped the bombshell that she’s pregnant but is unwilling to raise a youngster with a father whose violent life-style wouldl most likely get him killed. Cass decided to alter and contacted an old prison buddy who owned a chain of nightclubs and presented to run the security on all his doors it appears his violent previous found an suitable outlet and when enterprise was booming his family life also blossomed and he and Elaine had a second youngster.
The past came back to haunt Pennant when he was shot 3 times at close variety and while recovering from the attack he was told the news that his mother has died. In the course of this period of recovery Cass suffered from post-traumatic pressure and contemplated further acts of bloody retaliation against the Arsenal mob that attempted to kill him. Eventually his story is a redemptive a single, when stood in front of his would-be murderer, holding a gun inches from his assailant’s face, Cass was unable to pull the trigger and walked away, reflecting on the reality that his personal poor alternatives had brought these acts upon himself.
Cass Pennant went on to create his autobiography along with a slew of books on the subjects of football hooliganism, sports and style, he founded his personal publishing firm Pennant Books along with a production company Urban Edge Films. In a current discussion with Cass he was telling me how the film of his life came about. He met director Jon S. Baird even though he was a consultant for Green Street, yet another film about football violence Jon was the associate producer. From chatting on the set Cass knew that Jon was hungry to direct his initial function film and at the movie’s wrap party Jon recommended that Cass ought to write a book on his life, to which Cass replied he currently had. Normally he carried a copy of his autobiography in his bag but not this time, so he made an excuse to go to the bathroom and then ran subsequent door and bought a copy of his own book to hand to Jon to study.
According to Cass within an hour Jon had named him saying he had to make the film. Cass coolly replied contact me back when you’ve actually study the book and within a couple of days Jon confirmed his convictions. Cass is a wonderfully wealthy and layered debut function, it would have been far less complicated and more affordable to skip the boyhood scenes and get straight to the ICF period. Alternatively by focusing on Pennant’s relationship with Doll and by like passages of narration direct from the book it avoids getting just an additional football violence film and becomes a genuine story of a man’s life effortless to relate to even if you have no interest in the gorgeous game.
The film’s accomplishment is largely due to the towering overall performance from Nonso Anozie as Cass Pennant, a Shakespearian actor who manages to capture the nuances of speech and physical mannerisms in such a exceptional way that you locate it tough to picture the exact same performer in the part of Othello for which he received rave evaluations. Cass sparkles with quality in every single aspect of the production and deserves a much wider audience that with any luck this Blu-ray release will bring.
I want to close with an anecdote that Cass connected to me which I think reveals his character somewhat. On the evening of the film’s premier at London’s Odeon Leicester Square Cass, who has an office above a pub in SoHo, came down to the bar to locate a profitable film director had bought him a bottle of champagne and invited him to sit down and drink it with him. Cass has the reputation of becoming a bit of a workaholic but the director insisted, going on to ask if he was familiar with the list of one hundred Wonderful Black Britons and that was he aware that his name didn’t seem on the list? Cass had looked by means of the list, which is primarily comprised of wonderful sporting, entertainment and public figures, and he wasn’t precisely shocked not to be incorporated as a former football hooligan! The director pointed out that despite that not one particular of the 100 men and women listed have had a film made about their lives and that he must be very proud and must cease and raise a glass to savour the moment Cass the film is a suitable celebration.
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