Director: Ian Merrick
Writers: Michael Armstrong
Producers: Ian Merrick/Peter Long
Starring: Donald Sumpter/Debbie Farrington/Marjorie Yates
BBFC Certification: 18
Duration: 97 minutes
One of the most horrific crime stories of the United Kingdom was the one of Donald Nielson or, as he was otherwise known as, The Black Panther. The movie tells the story of Donald Nielson, an army fanatic who wants money so he and his family can live comfortably. However, although he plans his raids very carefully and in great detail, he fails and ends up killing somebody. After a string of failures to rob Post Offices and a string of dead bodies to follow, he attempts kidnapping a rich man’s daughter and asks for a ransom from her family. The movie is very harrowing and sticks true to the events of what really happened which is one of the reasons for its ban. Another reason it would have been banned is because this movie was made in 1977, which was around the time of these unfortunate events in real-life. Knowing that the events in the movie were extremely close to the events in real life makes the movie a lot darker. The cast in the movie were great as their characters but the ones that stood out were Donald Sumpter, who played Donald Nielson brilliantly and Debbie Farrington, who played the unfortunate Lesley Whittle. Both of their performances sent a shiver down your spine and made for captivating viewing when the two were on-screen together.
Of course, what with the kind of material that we are shown today with limbs flying across the screen and heads exploding and blood-filled rooms, this may not seem like a very violent movie and with the type of scenes that we see in horror movies today, the younger generation may not find this so scary. However, knowing that this actually happened in real life holds quite a bit of weight in the scares department and doesn’t use jumpy scenes and dark shots but instead uses Donald Sumpter instead. He manages to give the audience the impression of his dark behaviour and menacing looks and it truly does make the movie that much scarier. Also included on the DVD is a short film called Recluse, which is about three siblings who were found dead in a farmhouse. The thirty minute short is worth a look and just like The Black Panther, Recluse is based on real events. Overall, The Black Panther is worth a purchase but if you’re looking for something where you’ll find a complete bloodbath, look elsewhere. However, if you’re interested in real crimes, definitely pick this one up.
The one thing about this movie that I can not get over is how brilliant Donald Sumpter played as Donald Nielson. His performance was fantastic and really memorable as well as dark and menacing. The movie was low-budget and in some scenes you can tell, however this doesn’t affect the movie whatsoever as the realism of it stands out. All in all, it’s a great film that has a tremendous cast and tells the true facts very closely.