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CassSometimes you go off the rails just to
  fit in... and sometimes the past catches
  up with you when you least expect it,
  only to have fate present you with an
  impossible dilemma — such as the one
  Cass Pennant faces in Cass, the film
  of his incredible true story...”

ORGANISED FOOTBALL HOOLIGANISM is the serious topic explored in Cass, based on the best-selling autobiography of the same name by Cass Pennant and Mike Ridley. It is the true story of one man's struggle with his own identity and also of his ultimate redemption. The film touches on political issues and has a liberal amount of foul language, some crudeness and partial female nudity. Although violence is part of the film, it is never indulged in and even a savage attack with a knife is handled sensitively with much left to the imagination.

Ordinarily we would not have reviewed this film because of its prolonged and persistent swearing. But we would be missing a worthy film that is well acted, beautifully filmed and has a lot to say about racial discrimination, violence, retribution and turning your life around — Cass Pennant went from being the most feared football hooligan in the country to being Britain's best-selling black author.

Cass Pennant (Nonso Anozie) was a Jamaican Barnardo's baby adopted by Doll (Linda Bassett) and Cecil Chambers (Peter Wight), a middle-aged white couple from Slade Green, Greater London, in the late 1950s — the days before political correctness.

By the time he reached his teens, Cass had been forced to endure prejudice and incessant bullying because of his colour and his name — Carol — but had the staunch support of two white schoolfriends, Freeman (Leo Gregory) and Prentice (Gavin Brocker), into adulthood and they called him 'Cass' after their hero, Cassius Clay [latterly known as Mohammed Ali].

Although Cass has been brought up well by his adoptive parents, the years of pent-up angry emotion surface in an explosion of violence and he vows never to be the underdog again. At fourteen, he finds himself accepted for the first time in his life — by West Ham's 'top firm' the South Bank Crew, led by Stevie Hogan (Jamie Kenna), that has attached itself to the West Ham team.

A boyhood fan of West Ham United, Cass and his friends start their own gang and finally Cass ends up as the feared leader of the Intercity Firm (ICF). However, it is not long before he finds himself imprisoned in HMP Wormwood Scrubs for 'football-related violence' as part of Margaret Thatcher's crackdown on soccer hooligans.

Having been found guilty of grievous bodily harm and affray following a clash at a Tyneside working men's club, Cass finds himself on the right side of Ray (Tamer Hassan) who unofficially 'runs' the Scrubs and offers Cass a job on the outside. However, the book he writes in an attempt to change his future is taken from him by a vindictive prison warder.

On his release, Cass meets and falls in love with Elaine (Natalie Press) who deplores violence. But when Prentice is attacked and badly cut [his wounds needed a thousand stitches] by a rival gang from Islington, Cass goes onto their turf to exact revenge.

The film follows the inner turmoil as Cass tries to change his life, dogged constantly by his violent past. In a showdown in South London in 1993, Cass is shot three times at point black range. Will he seek vengeance as he would have done as part of the street gang culture or will the possibility of a home and family with Elaine — who loves him for himself — keep him on the straight and narrow?

Cass is Written for the Screen and Directed by John S Baird, who is also an Executive Producer. The film is Produced by Stefan Haller; Director of Photography is Christopher Ross; Editor is David Moyes; The Original Music is Composed and performed by Matteo Scumaci; and the Technical Consultant is Cass Pennant. The film also features Carl Fairweather as Martin, Lorraine Stanley as Linda, Jock The Bulldog as himself; Marcus Pennant as The Bullied Prisoner and Georgina Pennant as an Office Worker.

Cass is out to own on DVD and Blu-Ray on 29 December (2008), courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment. Cert 18 | Feature Running Time: 108 minutes approx | Feature Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 | Cat No: OPTD1283 | RRP: 19.99.

DVD/Blu-ray Extras — Behind The Scenes Featurette; Commentary with Jon S Baird, Stefan Haller and Nonso Anozie; Cass Pennant in his own words; It's A Casual Life, short film; trailer; TV Spots.

Cass Pennant's memoirs were finally published in April 2000. He went on to write a further eight books and to open a publishing company. Cass and Elaine Pennant remain happily married. The film is dedicated to the memory of Doll Chambers.

"Cass a worthy film that is well acted, beautifully filmed and has a lot to say about racial discrimination, violence, retribution and turning your life around" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

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