Patrick Malahide as Dirk-Brown in “Smack and Thistle”

Dirk-Brown, gangster turning legitimate business man.

In 1991 Patrick Malahide appeared as gangster turned business man Terrence Dirk-Brown in the TV movie “Smack and Thistle”. It is an interesting film that effectively combines crime, humour and romance.

RF:  It was a complete surprise that we actually managed to happen upon “Smack and Thistle”, since it seemed to be one of Mr. Malahide’s works that was no longer available.  I’m very glad that we got the opportunity to watch it.

Smack and Thistle: Main Plot

Admin: The basic plot centers around a young man named Abel (Charlie Caine) who is working on turning his life around. He is giving up crime to study to become a plumber. Of course, all his criminal buddies think that is ridiculous, but that seems to stem from the fact they regularly rely on his smarts and cunning.

Abel finds the papers in the briefcase.

RF:  Abel does appear to have a bit of a gambling problem, but it seems like he gambles until he simply doesn’t have any more money.  He’s friends with the local gambling hall owner and knows most of the regulars, which helps.

Admin: Abel winds up with a stolen briefcase containing documents pertaining to a deal between Dirk-Brown, an MP named Wilks (James Saxon), and the very posh Sir Horace Wimbol (Geoffrey Palmer). The contents lead Abel to Wimbol’s property for one last heist where he meets and quickly falls in love with Wimbol’s beautiful but sadly very heroin addicted daughter Elizabeth (Rosalind Bennett).

Excitement ensues as Dirk-Brown attempts to retrieve the briefcase, Abel gets wrongly caught up in a post office heist gone wrong, and Elizabeth works to come off heroin for good.

RF:  Hmmm, Jack Turner could’ve warned Dirk-Brown that Mysterious Briefcases always lead to trouble.  But the briefcase is just the maguffin that brings them all together.

Terrence Dirk-Brown, Gangster Turned Entrepreneur

Finalizing a deal.

Admin: We first see Dirk-Brown as he’s finalizing a deal with Sir Horace Wimbol, an American firm called ABA Investments and MP Wilks. Dirk-Brown’s firm Barcham Electronics will soon be expanding into Europe, and he’s super excited and pleased with himself. Dirk-Brown seems almost in awe of Sir Horace, like a kid who has finally been allowed to sit at the cool table.

He turns to Wilks, telling him “That should keep your voters happy, hey?” But, Wilks looks absolutely miserable. Dirk-Brown clearly notices, but now is not the time to ask questions. Wilks has every reason to look miserable because earlier a rent boy who had been servicing him in the men’s toilets only went and stole the briefcase containing all the pertinent details to the deal. The rent boy, a junkie named Ariel (Steve Sweeney),

Notices Wilks’ distress.

handed the briefcase over to Abel in hopes that he might be able to open it without damaging it. So, as far as Wilks is concerned it is lost, and he is in big trouble.

RF:  It’s hard to say who he’s more frightened of, Dirk-Brown or Sir Horace.   I think he has more to be worried about from the former.  Dirk-Brown does indeed look very pleased to have gotten a seat at the cool table, although Sir Horace’s lackey wastes no time subtly chasing him out of Sir Horace’s office.  It also looks as though the meeting was arranged for after-hours, when no one would see Dirk-Brown coming or going.  However, I do have to mention that Dirk-Brown is extremely well-dressed, wearing a well-tailored suit with a lovely grey overcoat to match.  He’s obviously a high-powered gangster type.

Admin:  Yes, Sir Horace gives his assistant a little glance, and Dirk-Brown is quickly ushered out.  It is a bit sad actually.

Wilks, avoiding eye contact: “No.”

As they leave Wimbol’s office, Dirk-Brown gives Wilks a very intimidating stare complete with a very meaningful jaw jut. “Something you want to tell me?” Wilks, sweating profusely, says “no”. He is completely unable to look Dirk-Brown in the eye, and I can hardly blame him as he’d only crumble under that penetrating glare.

RF:  That’s right, Dirk-Brown is no fool and already knows something is up.  I’m surprised Wilks survived the elevator ride.

A Lover and Fighter?

Admin: Next we see Dirk-Brown at a joint called the Flamingo which is presumably his own wine bar. A couple of blokes are complimenting him on his successes, but one of them who is well in his cups gets a bit carried away. “You knew what to do with your share of the security blag.” OK, so that’s how Dirk-Brown got his start then.

A hush falls over as the drunk realizes what he has just done. A very disgusted and absolutely terrifying Dirk-Brown strides over to him and looks him right in the face. “You’re a silly old bastard,” he casually growls. Two goons (Robin Summers and Peter McNamara) who are credited as Bill and Ben (ha-ha) and work for Dirk-Brown frog-march the drunk out.

“You’re a silly, old bastard.”

RF:  “Flamingo’s” doesn’t look like a terribly classy joint, so maybe it’s Dirk-Brown’s starter wine bar.  😉  I noticed on second viewing that Dirk-Brown’s Mercedes is parked half on the sidewalk out front with its hazards flashing, so obviously he doesn’t worry about Parking Control very much, either.    But yes, best not to mention “Terry’s” share of the security blag.  It was a bit hilarious to realize Dirk-Brown’s name was “Terry”, given Mr. Malahide’s long-running role on “Minder”.  However, he’s on the other side now.  😉  There’s a definite air of menace just before he has the drunk thrown out.

She introduces herself as Mr. Wilks research assistant.

Admin:  Yeah, I love that he’s called Terry. It gets even more amusing when Sir Horace refers to him as “Terrence.” 🙂

He then notices a beautiful and sharply tailored woman who introduces herself as Mr. Wilks’ research assistant (Gina McKee). She has a letter for Dirk-Brown. He asks her what is in it, but she hasn’t read it saying “Mr. Wilks was quite explicit”.

RF:  I almost didn’t recognize Gina McKee underneath her Nineties haircut.  😉  When she offers her hand to Dirk-Brown to shake, he studies it for a moment as if unsure what he’s supposed to do.  I thought for a second he might go all chivalrous and kiss her fingers, but alas, he didn’t.

“Explicit! I love the way you people talk.”

Admin: Dirk-Brown takes that as a cue to start flirting madly. “Explicit! I love the way you people talk. Listen, do you fancy going to an opera or something. You’ll find I’m not your usual run of the mill rough trade. I’m a self made entrepreneur that counts Knights of the Realm as business associates.” He doesn’t blink at all during this unwelcome mash-fest which is rather unsettling actually.

RF:  He also eyes Lucy Lisle (I had to look up her name on IMDB) up and down, and then up and down again while talking to her, and you’re right that he gazes at her with a rather frightening intensity, all while leaning in eeeeeexxxtra close.  I wonder if Dirk-Brown is the type to wear loud cologne?  😉  At least he made an attempt at gentility by asking her to the opera, rather than, say, to the races.

Yeah, it’s bad news about that briefcase.

Admin: She is clearly put-off by him and not at all impressed with his Knights of the Realm malarkey telling him she’s a socialist. That doesn’t faze him in the least though. But, she quickly makes her exit and he reads the letter. Mr. Wilks has finally come clean about the briefcase. Ruh-roh!

RF:  We only get a brief glimpse of his expression after he reads the letter, but it’s obvious he’s not pleased.  No wonder Wilks didn’t tell him in person.

The Search for the Briefcase Begins

“Haven’t you had enough of all that perversion?”

Admin: He meets up with Wilks at a bench. “Now, why didn’t you tell me straight off?” Wilks isn’t at all ready for Dirk-Brown’s anger and tries to leave telling him he has a three line whip. Dirk-Brown, disgustedly: “Haven’t you had enough of all that perversion?” Apparently it is some sort of vote. I like the way they work in a bit of humour, and it is like something that wouldn’t be out of place on “Minder”. Dirk-Brown is a canny bloke, but he obviously has more street smarts than book learning.

RF:  I had to google what a “three-line whip” was, but I loved Dirk-Brown’s misunderstanding.  😀

“You don’t know how hard and how long I’ve had to fight to get my foot in the door.”

Admin: Anyway, Dirk-Brown is furious. “Fuck the vote! You’re the only one who’s seen this poxy rent boy. You don’t know how hard and how long I’ve had to fight to get my foot in the door.” Here we get a very good idea of just how far Dirk-Brown has managed to climb, and he really doesn’t want to be dragged back down because of some dirty old MP.

His two goons approach, “Now, these two gentle men are going to help you find that thieving bastard and get the briefcase back.” Gentle, of course, being the worst descriptor possible. As he leaves Wilks with the goons, he turns around, “I could understand if it was a girl, but you’re supposed to be a member of parliament.” Dirk-Brown is clearly something of the old-fashioned, red-blooded type.

Leaves Wilks with the muscle.

RF:  There’s a lovely air of menace as the two goons come forward.  One of them even takes a puff from his asthma inhaler as if he’s preparing for something.  That’s right, Dirk-Brown does seem to be more of the old school gangster, but he’s also putting a lot of effort into this deal.

Admin: Later Wilks is in a phone booth (with a very lovely blue phone receiver, by the way) talking to Dirk-Brown who is on a very ’90s mobile phone. He also has a building model that seems to be a representation of his business expansion. “Everything goes ahead as planned. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut and stay out of public toilets.” As he speaks, he meditatively fiddles around with some toy cars pushing them along a mock-up street. It is an oddly sweet juxtaposition to his growled threats and apparent homophobia.

He’s very proud of his business expansion mock-up.

RF:  I half-expected Dirk-Brown to go, “Vrooom vrooom…” as he was pushing his little cars around.  One also has to admire his ability to multi-task.  😉

Admin: Dirk-Brown meets with Wimbol’s assistant (and Elizabeth’s would-be boyfriend, if she’d have him) Edward (John Elmes) who does a rather good Hugh Grant impression complete with ’90s floppy hair. He updates Edward on the briefcase hunt, “We know who’s got it… an elusive spade. We’ll find him.” Ahhh, we can add racism to his homophobia then.

Edward hopes they’ll be more subtle this time. We learn that Ariel was chased up to

Promises to be more careful with Abel than they were with poor Ariel.

a roof where he fell to his death. They now know Abel has the briefcase. Dirk-Brown acts the professional, “Some of my associates were a little over enthusiastic, but they have been severely reprimanded. They will do better next time.”

Edward tells him that the Americans are getting touchy. Dirk-Brown says he wants to meet the Americans. “I’ve got some questions, real soon, yes.” Edward is incredibly nervous but promises to deliver. Dirk-Brown gives him a shark-like smile that makes me think of Jack Turner. Oh, he can be so scary when he smiles!

Gives Edward a nice shark-like smile.

RF:  Even Edward backs up a step or two when confronted by Dirk-Brown, who doesn’t even have to raise his voice to be intimidating.  Edward (he is rather a Hugh Grant type, isn’t he?) breathes a small sigh of relief and loosens his tie when Dirk-Brown leaves.

Betrayal!

Oy! Careful with that mock-up!

Admin: At the docks Dirk-Brown meets the very formidable Ms. Kane (Connie Booth) who represents ABA Investments. What is it about docks? I think every city should have undercover cops keeping constant vigil at those places because they are absolutely rife with rum doings.

RF:  Certainly Jack Turner spent lots of time getting up to no good on docks.  😉

Admin: Anyway, he proudly shows her his display model, “Barcham Electronics, that’s the future.” She doesn’t care and just wants to know what his problem is. He tells her. “I just wondered why we should be importing spare parts from Washington on a regular basis, especially when my miniature televisions for export are supposed to be thoroughly British.” And there is more. “I also wondered why your firm should own ranches and a fleet of light aircraft in Honduras.” Uh-oh, it sounds like there is some drugs trafficking going on.

RF:  Both the henchman and Dirk-Brown handle that display model with a reverential air, as though it’s a religious artifact or something.  Dirk-Brown carefully places it on the hood of his car like it’s the most valuable object he owns.   But again, he also proves he’s no fool; he realizes Ms. Kane and ABA are likely trying to set him up to take the fall for whatever it is they’re doing – and if anyone can sense nefarious activity from miles away, it’s Dirk-Brown.

“I know you’re going to think I’m a complete div, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Admin: She says she thought he was a man who understands their requirements, but, it seems Dirk-Brown didn’t fully understand what he was getting into and says as much. “I know you’re going to think I’m a complete div, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I like his honesty there.

RF:  I had to google what a “div” was, although Dirk-Brown’s meaning was pretty clear from context.  Turns out the word has a long and surprising etymological history.  😉  Anyway, the implication from Ms. Kane is that he should keep his mouth shut and take the money, rather than ask too many questions.  There’s a nice bit of dueling menacing going on in this scene, with both parties trying to exert dominance in subtle ways.

“I’m talking about the future, not some Mickey Mouse ,cloak and dagger delivery service.”

Admin: The problem is, he really wants to expand his business into a legitimate enterprise and is actually being patriotic in that he wants to keep it British made. He has more in common with the forward-thinking Abel than he knows.  But, now Dirk-Brown is in debt and is being locked into a criminal deal he wants no part of.  “I’m talking about the future, not some Mickey Mouse cloak and dagger delivery service.”

RF:  That’s right, for an established crim, Dirk-Brown has a surprising ambition to… go straight.  By manufacturing and shipping miniature television sets and electronics, of all things!  It’s actually quite admirable.   One suspects that unlike Arthur Daley’s dodgy goods, Dirk-Brown’s TVs would actually work for longer than an hour or two once they were out of the box.  He’s got a great deal of pride and sense of ownership invested in Barcham already, as well as a lot of money.

Right in the Niagaras!

Admin: She tells him he has no choice, so he unwisely grabs her by her coat lapels. She whacks him hard, very hard, in the Niagaras! Ouch! “We’ll be in touch,” she says as she casually gets into her much larger limo. He has been utterly humiliated in front of his minions and it shows.  I will say it could have been worse for him because she is wearing a very alarming hat pin, and I don’t think she’d hesitate to use it!

RF:  There’s a duel of unblinking blue eyes between the two of them before Dirk-Brown grabs Ms. Kane by the lapels, but she proves she’s far from helpless, and certainly isn’t intimidated.  That looked like a solid knee to the Niagaras!  🙁  His bodyguards don’t even rush over to see how he is.  I was also thinking that it was lucky she didn’t get out her hat pin, since that thing looked lethal.  Instead, Dirk-Brown just staggers around doubled over in a rather undignified fashion for a while.  Oof!  This was when I started to realize we were getting a tone shift, with things becoming more comedic.  And yes, adding insult to injury, Ms. Kane’s limo is about a third again as long as Dirk-Brown’s Mercedes.  Car envy!

Admin:  I guess Chekhov’s Gun doesn’t apply to hat pins. 🙂

“Is nobody straight?” His world view has been shattered.

Admin: Later he is brooding in the back of his limo. Oh, that expression. He has taken this all very much to heart and you know he’s looking for some choice revenge. One of his goons asks if they should sort her out. “Nah, you pair of boneheads. Just get me that briefcase. I’ll deal with her later.” As he broods some more he asks, “Is nobody straight?” It is a sad day when a gangster’s trust in mankind is so sorely tested. Of course, he is also learning that those who are on the very top aren’t necessarily as industrious and honorable as he once though.

RF:  To quote DS Chisholm, a “good, honest, straightforward- to-God villain would be a breath of fresh air” for Dirk-Brown at this point.  😉  He does look rather dejected as he’s brooding, but he’s also reformulating his plans.  He’s not about to give up without a fight, even if he is having an existential crisis.

Things Just Get Worse

The goons think it looks a bit like a suicide.

Admin: Dirk-Brown and his goons go to Wilks’ place only to find him dead from an overdose and slashed wrist. He left a letter describing how losing the briefcase led to him questioning his life and finding himself unable to justify his sordid existence. The goons do a bit of detectiving. “Suicide?” “Yeah, that was my guess.” Dirk-Brown, however, zeroes in on “Sir Horace fucking Wimbol.”

RF:  I like how Dirk-Brown and his goons actually look very detective-ish in this scene, searching the room for clues.  He’s wearing an attractive trenchcoat that wouldn’t look out of place on Alleyn, and he’s not the least bit perturbed at finding a dead body surrounded by empty pill bottles and a pool of blood.  However, he is annoyed when one of his goons rips the curtains off the wall.  It’s so hard to find good help these days.  There’s the additional nice touch of having Big Ben toll ominously just as Dirk-Brown swivels the chair around to view Wilks’ body.  I like the way he reads out Wlilks’ suicide note with surprising eloquence and an air of completely disbelief.  His detective instincts are actually pretty good, since he realizes right away that Sir Horace is directly involved.

Admin:  It is a very cool and pulpish scene really.

“Members of Parliament topping themselves. Knights of industry pushing smack. What’s this country going to?”

Admin: Later Dirk-Brown and his goons are in a bar. He is in full melancholia. “Members of Parliament topping themselves.  Knights of industry pushing smack. What’s this country going to? Sir Horace fucking Wimbol.” But then he brightens up as the proverbial light bulb flashes. “Sir Horace Wimbol has a daughter. I’ll take the spade and the briefcase.” The two goons seem to cheer up too. “Just like old times.” They seem so much happier now they are in their element.

RF:  I noticed that Dirk-Brown was at one end of the bar, while the goons were at the far, opposite end; obviously he didn’t want them sitting too close to him while he was busy brooding.  He did look straight out of a film noir, though; almost a bit Bogart-ish.  He’s wearing a different suit, too.  Like Jack Turner, Dirk-Brown appears to be a bit of clotheshorse who enjoys colourful accessories; he’s sporting an interesting-looking pattered scarf to go with his outfit.  He does become much happier once he decides to go after Liz to get to Abel, even smiling after making up his mind.  Back to easily understandable, old-fashioned tactics!

Just been out for a ride.

Admin: However things don’t go according to plan. The goons manage to track Elizabeth down, and she is with Abel. They are both staying in a lovely cottage in the quaint country side. Elizabeth is coming off of drugs and Abel is seeing through it. But, before the goons can act, Dirk-Brown calls them back to Bethnal Green, and it looks like he is in big trouble. “That American bitch has only taken out a contract.”

Trouble indeed. We later see him, looking very trim in a tracksuit, putting his bicycle back. No wonder he looks so fit. As he wheels it in there is a massive boom and explosion. NOOOOOOOO!!!

KABOOOM!

RF:  Dirk-Brown is a health nut!  Who would’ve thought?  😀  I also assumed he had to be done for after that explosion, and I was a bit disappointed we weren’t going to see any more of him… or so I thought.

Terrence Looks Troubled

Admin: Ms. Kane and Sir Horace Wimbol are left counting all their precious money and are planning on running off together. However, Elizabeth has proven to be a bit of a problem. While she was getting clean, Abel was arrested on a post-office robbery. Earlier in the film, a couple of his so-called friends asked him to go in on a heist and even handed him a gun. He quickly shoved the gun back, refusing any part in it, but not before getting his prints all over it. As the robbery went underway, one of the lads was shot dead but another one, who happened to be black, got away. The police were able to recover Abel’s prints thus implicating him.

A distraught Elizabeth finds the briefcase and reads its contents. She blackmails Sir Horace into getting Abel freed. So, now Ms. Kane is hinting rather ominously at taking care of Elizabeth. Sir Horace keeps a photo of his daughter on his desktop and lays it down in a very symbolic gesture. What scum he is. He imports drugs knowing his daughter is an addict and now this. So what happens next is very gratifying indeed.

RF:  Yeah, I wasn’t at all sorry when Liz realized she could blackmail her father into freeing Abel.  Sir Horace proved he was ready to throw everyone under the bus, including Liz and Lady Wimbol.  He and Ms. Kane hold hands as they check their ill-gotten bank account, showing that Sir Horace had this in the works for a long time.  He deserves everything that’s about to happen to him.

Oh, but he ain’t dead yet.

Admin: Who should enter the room but a very sooty and bloodied Dirk-Brown. He has clearly been through something explosive, but he is also in one piece and looks very good all things considered. Sir Horace Wimbol delivers the best understatement ever. “Terrence, you look troubled.” Ha-ha-ha! I could totally imagine Arthur Daley saying that.  Lovely!

RF:  I grudgingly have to give Sir Horace credit for having a good line.  I also laughed outright when Dirk-Brown appeared at the door.  Clearly, neither he nor Jack Turner blows up very easily.  They’re nigh indestructible, like Daffy Duck!  Perhaps it’s Ms. Kane who can’t get good help these days.  He also looks a bit incongruous wearing his (clean) trenchcoat over his (explosion-stained) sweats, but we soon find out the reason for that.  And Mr. Malahide’s blue eyes stand out extremely well in his soot-streaked face.  It’s also interesting that neither Sir Horace nor Ms. Kane appears that surprised by his reappearance.

Sir Horace: “Terrence, you look troubled.”

Admin: Yes, Dirk-Brown is indeed troubled. “Troubled,” he laughs.  “Oh, maybe if I’d read more books, been better educated, been to Oxford or Cambridge or something, maybe I could find the words.” Sir Horace continues the understatement route by offering Dirk-Brown a glass of water. Dirk-Brown is having none of it and lets them know how badly he has been let down. “I thought the sun shined out of your ass. But what do I find? No honor!”

RF:  Dirk-Brown still has a bit of a hang-up about what “legitimate” means, and how to understand the ways these high-powered crims – even higher than him – operate.  He’s disillusioned and bewildered, wishing he had the education to “find the words”, betraying a certain envy of the upper class he wants so desperately to join.  He also keeps his right hand in his trenchcoat pocket for some reason as he paces back and forth.  Hmmmm.

“Something you’ve taken away and can’t give back. She tried to fuckin’ kill me.”

Admin: Ms. Kane takes a more direct approach, “What is all this bullshit about honor. What the fuck is it you want.” Not one for beating around the bush is Ms. Kane. Dirk-Brown answers, “Something you’ve taken away and can’t give back. She tried to fuckin’ kill me.”

RF:  Lovely, bright blue Crazy Eyes  as Dirk-Brown points out that Ms. Kane tried to kill him.  If you’re going to try something like that, you’d better get it right the first time.

Admin:  His eyes are especially vibrant in the scene.  They make him look all the more terrifying.

Admin: Sir Horace seems confused. Dirk-Brown continues, actually proving he has a stronger moral code than the two global industrialists before him. “Employment, not bleedin’ drugs. That would have been easy.”

“Employment, not bleedin’ drugs. That would have been easy.”

RF: I think Sir Horace is only acting confused because he’s trying to decide if he needs to throw Ms. Kane under the bus or not.  You do have to admire Dirk-Brown for insisting on doing things the “hard way” by creating legitimate employment, rather than dealing in drugs.  He has his own moral code that he won’t cross.

Admin: They offer him another deal, but it is too late. Dirk-Brown cocks a sawed-off shot gun, “Nah! You, Horace, are a greedy selfish bastard. So, tell you what, we’re going to have a big bang all of our own.” BOOM! And that’s them two gone. Somehow I doubt neither Mrs. Horace Wimbol nor Elizabeth will be doing much mourning.

“Nah!”

RF:  Dirk-Brown smiles a wonderful, sharkish smile as he says “Naaah.”  And then he really displays some Crazy Eyes when he says they’re going to have a “big bang all of our own”.  He’s relishing this moment.  I have to admit, I didn’t anticipate the sawn-off shotgun, although now it makes sense that he was keeping his right hand in his pocket the entire time.  Of course he wouldn’t show up to a meeting like that without some insurance of his own.

Admin: So, Dirk-Brown gets his revenge, but his business is also in tatters. I guess he and his “associates” will be starting from the bottom and working upwards again. I  think the two goons will be pleased about that though, so at least they’ll be happy.

Brings out the sawed-off.

As for Elizabeth and Abel, well, Elizabeth seems to be off drugs for good. That was a remarkably easy detox, but still it is nice to see them win. And they were able to get a good pay out for Ariel’s mum and her two young children, so their lives are about to get a lot better. That’s nice too.

RF:  Yeah, I’m sure Dirk-Brown will put his display model in some place of honour (presuming he’s not arrested for double homicide) as he works his way back up again, with his wine bars and other enterprises.  Maybe he can even employ Abel as his plumber.  Agreed that Liz’s detox seemed remarkably easy and relapse-free, but since “Smack and Thistle” changed tone about halfway through, I’m not disappointed by the happy ending.

Wrap-Up

Gets the balance of comedy and drama just right.

Admin: Smack and Thistle is a really enjoyable drama. It does slow down a wee bit when the romance and detox plot really come it, but Abel and Elizabeth are likable enough characters that I don’t mind. Of course, all the best stuff was with Dirk-Brown and his goons. They are certainly comedy crims, but they were intimidating enough so as not to be totally goofy. And all the humour works with everyone hitting their lines just right. It is funny, but not too zany. It reminds me very much of “Minder” in that it is a well-balanced comedy-drama. I highly recommend it.

RF:    It also reminded me a lot of “Minder”, both in the setting and the fact that Abel was trying to go straight after a history of criminal behaviour.  He would probably make a very effective minder; he was very compassionate, intelligent, and resourceful.  And it reminded me a bit of “Hunted”, too.  Not just because Dirk-Brown was a stylish, well-dressed, successful crim like Jack Turner, but because both he and Jack had a bit of a sore spot when it came to “legitimate” activities and perceived class differences.  However, Jack would never want to go straight.  I couldn’t see him being content with manufacturing miniature televisions.

He proves to be a bit of an anti-hero.

Admin: Patrick Malahide is absolutely wonderful. We can add Dirk-Brown to the list of London Gangsters he has played. Dirk-Brown’s intimidating persona combined with his ambition for legitimate and honorable trade make him a very interesting character. He wants to run a British firm that offers real employment. It is a stark contrast to his dark past. And while his past is indeed dark, it is actually kind of heartbreaking to see his dismay when he realizes that the “respectable” folk aren’t necessarily any better than he ever was.

If anything, he’s better, since I don’t think Dirk-Brown would *ever* import drugs if he had a daughter struggling with addiction. I think he’d be far more likely to go all vigilante on local pushers. So while he’s not a good guy, far from it, he’s still a very intriguing anti-hero of sorts. I certainly like him at any rate. 🙂

Realizes Sir Horace isn’t all that much after all.

RF:  I completely agree that Mr. Malahide was wonderful in the role.  This show turned out to be something different than I was expecting; I thought at first we were getting a somewhat hard-hitting/caper drama, then it became more comedic.  But it all worked.  I also have to agree with Admin’s assessment of Dirk-Brown as an anti-hero.  He certainly didn’t balk at using violent or underhanded methods to get what he wanted, and he didn’t mind causing an incidental death or two along the way, but he did have his own moral code of acceptable conduct.  Dirk-Brown’s greatest disillusionment was that the higher-up, better educated, or even titled sorts were up to the same activities as himself, or even worse.

RF: I also really enjoyed seeing Mr. Malahide in the role of an anti-hero crim.  He was able to move from being absolutely menacing to somewhat comedically saddled with inferior help and associates, while at the same time conveying Dirk-Brown’s deepest desire to go “legitimate”.   I’m glad we finally got to see this tv movie.

Admin:  Yep, it was a nice find indeed. 🙂

Gallery, Courtesy of RFodchuk

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