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HENNESSY(director: Don Sharp; screenwriters: Richard Johnson/story by John Gay; cinematographer: Ernest W. Steward; editor: Eric Boyd-Tomkins; cast: Rod Steiger (Niall Hennessy), Lee Remick (Kate Brooke), Richard Johnson (Inspector Hollis), Trevor Howard (Commander Rice), Eric Porter (IRA Leader Sean Tobin), Peter Egan (Williams), Ian Hogg (Gerry), Hugh Moxey (MP Burgess); Runtime: 103; American International Pictures; 1975-UK)
“The weak script and uninspiring dialogue is compensated for by the crisp action sequences…”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A ‘B’ movie political thriller that was shrewd enough to get newsreel footage of the royal family and the cabinet attending the opening of Parliament into its closing action scenes. This tough-guy cop movie was written by Richard Johnson, the actor who plays Inspector Hollis.

The weak script and uninspiring dialogue is compensated for by the crisp action sequences and fast-pacing of the story. It begins in the Belfast of 1972 when a demolition expert and former British officer, Hennessy (Steiger), tells his childhood friend and wanted IRA leader, Sean Tobin (Porter), that he wants no part of that organization, he is only interested in his family first. Tobin tells him that the cause of a free Ireland comes above anything else. Sooner than you can say corned beef and cabbage Hennessy’s wife and 7-year-old daughter are accidently machined gun to death by a British soldier who stumbled and reeled off a volley of shots that killed seven people, when chasing after a mob of bomb and rock throwing demonstrators.

Hennessy is not telling anyone his plans. When he takes off for London the next morning, skipping his family’s funeral, Sean decides to have his men pick him up and see what he plans on doing. When forced at gunpoint by Sean’s man into a car, he is still unwilling to reveal his plans as the kidnapper is suddenly overtaken by Hennessy and shot. The police of the Special Branch unit of Scotland Yard discover that the dead man is a thug working for the IRA and Commander Rice (Trevor) calls in his most fearsome agent, just back from duty in Belfast, Inspector Hollis, to look into the matter.

Not going by the book, the inspector beats it out of one of the IRA cronies that it was Hennessy who killed the thug the police found in the car. But the cops can’t figure out what is going on; that is, until the IRA learns that Hennessy is going to blow up Parliament and realizing that if he does that, it will be terrible for the world-image of the IRA. Therefore, they tell the police Hennessy’s plans and say they will stop him themselves if they have to.

Hennessy chooses as his London hideout the flat of his childhood friend, Kate Brooke (Lee Remick), whose IRA husband died from the blast of a bomb he planted. She welcomes him into her flat, but is suspicious of why he is here telling him she wants no part in violence or anything to do with the IRA. He says that it is better for her sake, if he tells her nothing except that he has nothing to do with the IRA.

The revengeful Hennessy has a one-track mind never revealing anything about his character or why he should snap in this way and come up with such a ludicrous scheme, as the one he has hatched. But he decides to kidnap the MP Burgess (Moxey) and disguise himself as Burgess and attend the opening of the Parliament, armed with enough dynamite strapped onto him to blow it and him to smithereens.

This is one of those films that doesn’t add up. There was one scene where all Hollis had to do was call Rice and have the masquerading Hennessy be picked up in Parliament but, instead, he heroically and foolishly goes after Hennessy by himself in Parliament.

The film avoids any political manifestations, making the story about the crazed loner Hennessy take precedence over any sectarian issues that were in the news regarding Northern Ireland. The best things one can say about the film, was that the acting wasn’t that bad and it was somehow watchable.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”