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
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
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