BFI Flipside presents The Black Panther
A film by Ian Merrick
Starring Donald Sumpter, Debbie Farrington & Marjorie Yates
This intelligent true-crime drama charts the infamous killing spree which Donald Neilson, aka the Black Panther, carried out across England in the mid-70s, culminating in the kidnapping and murder of a 17-year old girl. Newly mastered from original film elements preserved in the BFI National Archive, this impressive and powerful film is at long last being made available for new audiences in a Dual Format Edition by BFI Flipside.
Told with uncommon accuracy and refraining from any measure of sensationalism, director Ian Merrick and screenwriter Michael Armstrong’s fascinating and disturbing film fell foul of a media-driven campaign upon its original cinema release in 1977, which resulted in an effective ban.
Established lead actor Donald Sumpter, who fearlessly played Donald Neilson, was recently seen in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). Marjorie Yates who played Neilson’s wife is perhaps best-known for her role as Carol Fisher in the Channel 4 TV drama Shameless. Debbie Farrington (who plays the kidnap victim) went on to appear in a variety of TV dramas.
Caught by chance after a random encounter with the police, Neilson was convicted in 1976. With five life sentences he was destined to spend the rest of his life in prison and died there in December 2011.
This Dual Format Edition (DVD and Blu-ray discs together) also includes Bob Bentley's BAFTA Award-winning 1981 short film, Recluse, which is based on reports of another real life crime, the death by shotgun of three siblings at a remote farm in Dorset. Both Ian Merrick and Michael Armstrong have written new contributions for the comprehensive booklet that accompanies the discs. Director Bob Bentley has also contributed a new essay about the making of Recluse.
Dual Format DVD / Blu-Ray Combo All Region
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Director approved transfer
Alternative French language soundtrack, with English subtitles
Recluse (Bob Bentley, 1981, 30 mins): arresting short film based on real events,
starring Maurice Denham and edited by David Gladwell (editor of If…. and O Lucky Man!)
Recluse: recce footage (1978, 10 mins): recently discovered 16mm location scouting
footage shot by director Bob Bentley
Illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays and contributions from Ian
Merrick, Michael Armstrong, Bob Bentley and James Oliver; original promotional
artwork and full credits
UK / 1977 / colour / 98 mins / original aspect ratio 1.85:1
Disc 1: BD50 / 1080p / 24fps / PCM mono audio (48k/16-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 / PAL / Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps)