Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Damned United - 2009 Movie Review

Directed by Tom Hooper, this is the story of Brian Clough's reign as Leeds United manager for all of 44 days. Michael Sheen plays Brian Clough. The previous manager Don Revie(Colm Meaney) had achieved national success wiuth the ream and was now asked to take the head job as England Manager. So in comes Brian Clough to take over and become the next biggest thing or not. Clough starts his job by taking an Yorkshire Television interview and states that Leeds were cheats and thugs and he's there to change their style of football.

Warning: There are spoilers if you don't know the story and don't want to, stop now.

The story jumps back and forth in time telling the story of Brian's early days with Derby County, working with Peter Taylor(Timothy Spall) to take them from the bottom of the 2nd league to the top of the first division. Clough is a man of many words and doesn't care who he's talking to, he says what he wants. This was all started when Derby selects Leeds in the 1967 FA Cup Draw at home. He gets the place ready to show his first division opponents that he is ready to have them as guests. so what happens, they lose 2-0 and Don Revie walks out snubbing Clough. From that point he was determined to get to first division and beat the pants off Leeds and stick it to Revie.

Flash forward in time and you see that he gets off on the wrong foot with the team right off the start in the Charity Shields match and can't seem to get his team to show any respect for him as a coach. This struggle will end up driving him out the door only 6 weeks after taking the team.

So back to the success he created at Derby. He went behind the chairman's back to aquire players and spend money the club didn't have. He took the team from nothing and made them the champions of first division. Clough did this all with Peter Taylor, who some say was really the brains of the operation. The breaking point was when Leeds was in town for a match and Derby had a mid-week semi-final cup tie with Juventus. The Chairman question why Clogh was playing his best against Leeds and not saving them for the Juve match. Well Leeds took out several key players and Derby went on to lose to Juventus and Clough looked bad to the Chairman and the board. Clough offered up his and Taylors resignation if the board didn't change the chairman. The board accepted and it backfired on Clough. He was now out of a job and screwed Peter Taylor along with him.

The only job offered to Clough was the Brighton & Hove Albion position, which he and Taylor accepted. Taking a chance to bring a 3rd division club to the top. While on holiday before the job started word came out that Revie was now England Manager and someone from Leeds asked Clough to take over. He had a falling out with Taylor and went to do it on his own. This became the start of the down fall, "The Damned United". The players wouldn't listen. His top players were hurt and the captain was suspended for violent conduct. so he had no change. Leeds players were looking for him to scout matched and train them based on the style of each team. Clough thought that if you trained his way it didn't matter who you played. We the team turned on him and only 44 days later he was out.

The story finished it up with Clough getting blindsided with an interview that included Don Revie to be critical of him. The two went at each other with words. Clough basically said he was doomed from the start because they wouldn't listen to him and that Revie was sabotaging him from the start. Revie asked why Clough disliked him so much and he told him about the 1967 FA Cup Snubbing and Revie tried to play it off like he didn't know that he was the manager. All in all they walked off saying nothing more.

The film itself then goes on to show Clough getting on his knees and begging Taylor for forgivness. He accepts and they join forces to take Nottingham Forest to the lead championship as well as two European titles. Clough and Taylor really were a great team. The success they had was amazing. The film ends with a quote "the best manager that England national side never had". Clough passed away in September of 2004, but will always be remembered as on of the best English coaches.

To me giving you the summary is no more that telling you what happened historically at the time. This film was done really well for a period piece done in 2009 portraying the mid-sixties through early seventies. The story may have been embellished a bit, but really for the most part is right on with how it went down. Brian Clough was a successful manager, but had no chance when he took the Leeds position, but he still fought and stuck to his style.

I think the acting was done well for this film, Colm Meaney does a great job being a prick and Michael Sheen is great and being the arrogant non-stop talking version of Clogh who won't let you get a word in. This is a good movie and well worth watching. You really don't have to be a Clough fan or Revie fan, just watch it for the story and the acting, everyone does a good job.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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