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Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire
Alan Clarke’s once derided feature is surely the only vampire snooker musical in cinema history and a genuine cult artefact ripe for rediscovery.
Musical 1985 90 mins
Director: Alan Clarke
Once regarded as something of an oddity, if not a misstep, in the career of Alan Clarke, Billy the Kid is undoubtedly the only vampire snooker musical in cinema history and a genuine cult artefact destined for rediscovery.
One of the legendary television director’s few forays into features, Clarke collaborated with screenwriter Trevor Preston for the story of a duel between backstreet snooker player Billy Kid (Phil Daniels) and world champion Maxwell Randall (Alun Armstrong). The film was made at the height of snooker’s improbably success on British television, and Preston was inspired to write the tale from watching a showdown between young pretender Jimmy White and veteran Ray Reardon (nicknamed ‘Dracula). Clarke’s contrasting of ostentatious musical numbers with claustrophobic and sterile locations betray his longstanding interest in the work of Bertholt Brecht, and composer George Fenton (a recent Oscar-winner for Gandhi at the time) supplies the wonderful score with its eccentric songs and diverse switches of style. One of the strangest films to emerge from 1980s Britain (in a decade that offered a fair few contenders); Billy the Kid is a delightful slice of eccentricity from one of the UK’s most uncompromising filmmakers.
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