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HISTORY

The film's working title was Burden of Proof , the title of the James Barlow novel on which it was based. Although an Aug 1970 Var news item stated that the film was "backed solely by British coin," the film's producers were American and other news items noted that the film was financed by Americans. Many contemporary news items mention the involvement of executive producer Elliott Kastner's production company, Winkast, but the organization is not listed in the onscreen credits. According to a 1970 NYT article, Richard Burton forewent his "celebrated $1,000,000 fee" to work for a percentage of the picture's profits.
       According to the LAHExam review, for its U.S. release the film was partially dubbed from its original version to assist American audiences in understanding the strong British accents. Villain marked the first feature film for television director Michael Tuchner. ... More Less

The film's working title was Burden of Proof , the title of the James Barlow novel on which it was based. Although an Aug 1970 Var news item stated that the film was "backed solely by British coin," the film's producers were American and other news items noted that the film was financed by Americans. Many contemporary news items mention the involvement of executive producer Elliott Kastner's production company, Winkast, but the organization is not listed in the onscreen credits. According to a 1970 NYT article, Richard Burton forewent his "celebrated $1,000,000 fee" to work for a percentage of the picture's profits.
       According to the LAHExam review, for its U.S. release the film was partially dubbed from its original version to assist American audiences in understanding the strong British accents. Villain marked the first feature film for television director Michael Tuchner. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 211-213.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1970
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1971.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
27 May 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 May 1971.
---
New York Times
6 Dec 1970.
---
New York Times
27 May 1971
p. 34.
Time
14 Jun 1971.
---
Variety
24 Jun 1970.
---
Variety
5 Aug 1970.
---
Variety
9 Sep 1970.
---
Variety
2 Jun 1971
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Kastner/Ladd/Kanter Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus comp
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod asst
Prod's asst
Cont
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Burden of Proof by James Barlow (London, 1968).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Burden of Proof
Release Date:
May 1971
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 26 May 1971
Production Date:
September--mid November 1970 in London
Copyright Claimant:
Anglo-E.M.I. Film Distributors, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40749
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
90 or 97
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Suspecting that Benny Thompson, one of the underlings in his crime empire, has passed information on to the police, gang chief Vic Dakin confronts Benny at his apartment, where, as Benny’s girl friend Patti trembles with fear in the next room, the sadistic Dakin pulverizes Benny’s face with his fists, then slices him with a straight razor and strings his body over the fire escape. The homosexual Dakin, a sadistic psychopath whose pleasure in inflicting pain is matched only by the pathological love he feels for his elderly mother, has developed a strong, possessive attachment to Wolfe Lissner, a bisexual pimp and blackmailer. Wolfe has so few scruples that he procures his girl friend, Venetia, for a degenerate house party given by Gerald Draycott, a member of parliament who has a fancy for sexual perversion. Inspector Rob Matthews of Scotland Yard has become obsessed with arresting Dakin, who, so far, has evaded the law in his long crime career. Suspecting that Dakin was responsible for Benny’s assault, Matthews asks Danny, a club owner who pays Dakin for protection, for information, but Danny is afraid to cooperate. Danny has proposed a payroll robbery at a plastics plant to Dakin, and although Dakin shies away from crimes like robbery, the fact that a clerk at the factory is willing to supply inside information and that the payroll is delivered in a regular car, rather than an armored vehicle, piques his interest. Dakin enlists fellow crime boss Frank Fletcher, whose territory includes the factory, and his ulcer-ridden brother-in-law, Edgar Lowis in the robbery. While at the posh gambling club where he is holding his ... +


Suspecting that Benny Thompson, one of the underlings in his crime empire, has passed information on to the police, gang chief Vic Dakin confronts Benny at his apartment, where, as Benny’s girl friend Patti trembles with fear in the next room, the sadistic Dakin pulverizes Benny’s face with his fists, then slices him with a straight razor and strings his body over the fire escape. The homosexual Dakin, a sadistic psychopath whose pleasure in inflicting pain is matched only by the pathological love he feels for his elderly mother, has developed a strong, possessive attachment to Wolfe Lissner, a bisexual pimp and blackmailer. Wolfe has so few scruples that he procures his girl friend, Venetia, for a degenerate house party given by Gerald Draycott, a member of parliament who has a fancy for sexual perversion. Inspector Rob Matthews of Scotland Yard has become obsessed with arresting Dakin, who, so far, has evaded the law in his long crime career. Suspecting that Dakin was responsible for Benny’s assault, Matthews asks Danny, a club owner who pays Dakin for protection, for information, but Danny is afraid to cooperate. Danny has proposed a payroll robbery at a plastics plant to Dakin, and although Dakin shies away from crimes like robbery, the fact that a clerk at the factory is willing to supply inside information and that the payroll is delivered in a regular car, rather than an armored vehicle, piques his interest. Dakin enlists fellow crime boss Frank Fletcher, whose territory includes the factory, and his ulcer-ridden brother-in-law, Edgar Lowis in the robbery. While at the posh gambling club where he is holding his meeting with Frank and Edgar, Dakin spots Wolfe at the gambling table and encounters Draycott in the men’s room. Disgusted by Draycott’s sexual propensities, Dakin shoves him into the urinal. Later that night, two of Dakin’s thugs pick up Wolfe outside the club and drive him to Dakin’s house. Furious that Wolfe has been avoiding him, Dakin leads him into the bedroom, where, after punching him in the stomach, promises to buy him some new suits. When the workers threaten to strike at the plastics plant, Dakin, Frank and Edgar are forced to move up the time of the robbery to circumvent the strike. On the day of the robbery, Frank tails the car carrying the payroll from the bank to the factory as Dakin and Edgar wait in separate cars on the road outside the plant. When the guards carrying the payroll realize that they are being followed, they try to evade Frank, but Frank runs them off the road after which Dakin and Edgar ram the car. In the ensuing struggle, Frank’s face is bloodied, one guard is beaten and Dakin sprays lemon juice in the other’s eyes, blinding him. Grabbing the payroll, the gangsters speed off in Dakin’s car, which has been disabled by a flat tire. His stomach soured by anxiety, Edgar munches on an egg. When the car’s tire careens off its rim, they stop and hijack the vehicle of a passing motorist. Deciding that they should split up, Dakin instructs Edgar to take the money and the car and meet them later that night at Wolfe’s flat. Finding Wolfe in bed with Venetia when he arrives, Dakin jealously orders her to get out. Later, the gang reassembles to wait for Edgar. Meanwhile, the police have discovered Edgar’s cast-off eggshell in the abandoned car, and tracing the fingerprints to Edgar, arrive at his house to arrest him. Their appearance leads Edgar to have a violent ulcer attack, and as he writhes on the floor in pain, Wolfe calls to find out where Edgar is. When Matthews answers the phone, the gang realizes that Edgar has been arrested and Dakin presses Wolfe to find him an alibi for the time of the crime. Wolfe then approaches Patti, who is still afraid the gang will retaliate against her for witnessing Benny’s beating. When Wolfe promises that the gang will leave her alone if she agrees to seduce and spend the weekend with Draycott she readily agrees. Soon after, as Mrs. Dakin, Dakin and one of his thugs sit on the Brighton pier, Matthews and his subordinate, Tom Binney, arrive to arrest Dakin and take him back to town for a police lineup. After one of the plant guards identifies Dakin at the lineup, Wolfe sends Draycott a packet of explicit sexual photos taken during his tryst with Patti and threatens to expose him unless Draycott provides Dakin with an alibi. When Draycott testifies that he was with Dakin at the time of the robbery, Matthews knows he is lying, but cannot do anything about it. Soon after, Mrs. Dakin dies in her bed, and Dakin, in tears, calls Wolfe and tells him he needs him. Following the funeral, they go to Wolfe’s apartment, and when Venetia lets herself in with a key, Dakin throws her out, then punches Wolfe in the stomach and begs him not to leave. Edgar, who has not revealed where he hid the payroll, has been hospitalized in a prison facility, but when his condition worsens, he is transferred to a civilian hospital. To set a trap for Dakin, Matthews arranges for Danny to pass the information about Edgar’s transfer to Dakin, who he knows will try to kidnap Edgar. Posing as a patient and doctors, Dakin’s thugs infiltrate the hospital and take Edgar. Wolfe, who was opposed to the plan all along, suspects a setup because their plan worked too smoothly. Meanwhile, the police are watching Dakin, and when he leaves the house for a rendezvous with his lackeys and Edgar, they follow. Edgar leads the thugs to an abandoned railway bridge where he has hidden the payroll under one of the arches. As Edgar digs to retrieve the money, the police arrive. Thinking that Edgar set him up, Dakin shoots him in the stomach, then starts to flee from the police. Resigned to being caught, Wolfe refuses to run, and Dakin, now alone, surrenders to Matthews. As onlookers gawk, Dakin contemptuously screams, “who are you looking at?” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.