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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

THE DAMNED UNITED

By D.E.Levine

Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: Peter Morgan (screenplay) and David Peace (novel)
Producers: Andy Harries and Grainne Marmion
Executive Producers: Hugo Heppell, Christine Langan and Peter Morgan
Line Producer: Lee Morris
Cast: Colm Meaney, Henry Goodman, David Roper, Jimmy Reddington, Oliver Stokes, Ryan Day, Michael Sheen, Mark Bazeley, Timothy Spall, Maurice Roeves, Stephen Graham, Peter McDonald, Mark Cameron, Frank Skillin, Dylan Van Hoof, Sydney Wade, Elizabeth Caring, Jim Broadbent et al.
Original Music: Robert Lane
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Biography, Action, Historical, Sports

A combination of fact and fiction as this film, taken from a book, recounts the highlights of team manager Brian Clough.

Using flashbacks to tell the story, this film spans the 1968-1974 years when working-class-boy Clough oversaw the rise of English soccer team Derby County and then moved on to manage Derby's archrival, Leeds United.

When Clough takes over Leeds the club is at the top of the tables. Former manager Don Revie leaves to take over England's World Cup squad.

Long harboring resentment against Revie, Clough incurs the resentment of Leeds players prior to even starting by making public negative statements against both the former manager and the players.

Also hindering Clough is the fact that his longtime collaborator and assistant manager, Peter Taylor, doesn't accompany him to Leeds.

Fired after only 44 days on the job, Clough redeems himself in the opinion and memory of the U.K. by starting over again elsewhere.

While most of the infrequent soccer footage is archival, the emphasis of this film focuses on Clough's friendship with Taylor and rivalry with Revie. The themes thus are friendship, rivalry, loyalty and honor.

Michael Sheen, who already has proven himself adept at playing real historical figures (i.e. David Frost and Tony Blair) develops a moving picture of a braggart who must admit to his deficiencies and modify his behavior.

Clough, who died in 2004, is still a well-known and remembered figure in U.K. sports, both as a manager and a talkshow personality. Undoubtedly, his flamboyant personality and style will always be remembered in sports history.