The Firm is a 1989 English made-for-television drama film directed by Alan Clarke and written by Al Hunter Ashton for the BBC. It stars Gary Oldman, Phil Davis, Charles Lawson and Steve McFadden in his acting debut. The film is based on the activities of the Inter City Firm (billed as the “Inter City Crew”) football firm of West Ham United during the 1970s and 1980s.
The film, which courted controversy on release, has come to be regarded among the finest films on the subject of football hooliganism. It is notable for having almost no musical score or diegetic music, save for Dean Martin’s rendition of “That’s Amore” over the opening titles. Oldman’s performance has been hailed as one of the greatest of his career.
Bexy is a married man with a baby son and it is clear his wife does not approve of his activities as a football hooligan which provide contrast to his respectable job as an estate agent. Even when his baby son injures himself with a Stanley knife carelessly left around by Bexy he is unwilling to give up his interest in violence as he admits it gives him a buzz. Conversely, Bexy’s father shows complete acceptance of his son’s lifestyle, happily taking a group photograph of the gang ‘tooled up’, and boasts of having been involved in similar activities in his own era, however he shows contempt that Bexy and his friends have gone soft and now use weapons. Bexy uses his natural leadership qualities to cajole (sometimes to the extent of intimidating those less eager) and encourage his peers and plays a key role in organising trips to rival firms. He also has a vision of a national firm, which would join all the smaller firms into one. But his ideas are not accepted by other firm leaders.
Bexy and his fellow hooligans clearly only possess any kind of social status amongst their own groups and Bexy obviously relishes being looked up to and admired by the younger lads in his “firm”. Bexy and his friends think of themselves as important, respected figures in their local community but Bexy’s wife points out to him that the truth is somewhat different. Everyone thinks of him as a bit of a joke figure but because of their fear of his violent nature few are willing to point out to him that he isn’t the working class hero he thinks he is.
Towards the end of the film the character Bexy is shot dead by Yeti, the leader of “The Buccaneers” one of their rival firms during a violent clash. Despite the senseless killing of a family man with a child, Bexy’s followers still regard him as a hero figure and claim that when they are fighting European thugs at a forthcoming tournament they will be doing so in memory of their dead leader. This part of the film shows the hooligans from three different firms, which were fighting each other not long ago. They claim that Bexy is a visionary that brought them together, so Bexy becomes a legend in the eyes of the other hooligans.
- Gary Oldman as Clive “Bex” Bissel.
- Lesley Manville as Sue Bissel.
- Phil Davis as “Yeti”.
- Andrew Wilde as “Oboe”.
- Charles Lawson as “Trigg”.
- William Vanderpuye as “Aitch”.
- Jay Simpson as Dominic.
- Patrick Murray as “Nunk”.
- Robbie Gee as “Snowy”.
- Terry Sue-Patt as Yusef.
- Nick Dunning as Simon.
- Nicholas Hewetson as “Beef”.
- Steve McFadden as Billy.
- Steve Sweeney as JT.
- Hepburn Graham as Stu.