The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

Achilles' Heel
Achilles' Heel

Achilles' Heel 1973


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


Achilles' Heel 1973

70 mins United Kingdom Director. Alan Clarke

Alan Clarke’s film of a day in the life of a professional footballer makes for fascinating viewing today. Knowing Clarke’s passion for Everton FC, producer Lambert attached him to Brian Clark’s 1973 script, which captures the moment where money, glamour and celebrity begin to enter the world of football.

Dave Irwin is the star forward of an unnamed team, a genuine talent with international appearances under his belt. Far from appreciating his good fortune he struggles under the weight of pressures and commitments, from the bleatings of his concerned manager and wife to the clamour of a star-struck public and the newfound schemes of his shady business manager, who’s trying to convince him to diversify into underwear modelling. All the while Irwin struggles to conceal a troubling heel injury that not only threatens his place in the team, but has the potential to bring the whole edifice down.

With its focus on the newly monied football class and the resulting pressures of wealth and responsibility, Achilles Heel makes for fascinating viewing today, as it records the start of the process leading to today’s multi-millionaire soccer stars.

Martin Shaw is excellent as Irwin, managing to retain our sympathy even while being thoroughly dislikeable. While Brian Clark’s excellent script may be the star, Alan Clarke’s inspired direction elevates the material further. The play’s protracted opening scene, in which Irwin and his wife slowly begin their day in real-time, is a masterclass in televisual patience and precision.

Clarke would of course return to the subject of football for his BBC play, The Firm, which similarly focuses on issues around the game rather than the sport itself.

Directed by

Alan Clarke


Fred Griffiths

Charlotte Howard

Martin Shaw




Alan Clarke Unavailable on DVD Eyes on the Prize




United Kingdom



Read lessRead more

Explore further

View Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire
Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire

Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire 1985 PG

Alan Clarke’s once derided feature is surely the only vampire snooker musical in cinema history and a genuine cult artefact ripe for rediscovery.

93 mins United Kingdom Director. Alan Clarke

View The Gold Robbers: The Arrangement
The Gold Robbers: The Arrangement

The Gold Robbers: The Arrangement 1969 12

Alan Clarke directs this episode of a 13-part serial inspired by The Great Train Robbery of 1963, starring Peter Vaughan as the dogged detective on the case.

United Kingdom Director. Alan Clarke

View Stella
Watch from £0.85

Stella 1968 15

Alun Owen and director Alan Clarke's extraordinary power-play charts the explosive sexual dynamic between the titular heroine and her obsessive lover.

26 mins United Kingdom Director. Alan Clarke


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later