6.7/10
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58 user 20 critic

The Krays (1990)

This fact-based movie follows the life of the twin crime-lords in London's '60s underworld.

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jack 'The Hat' McVitie
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Charlotte Cornwell ...
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Avis Bunnage ...
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Storyline

The life of a pair of twins (Ronald and Reginald Kray) who were born in London in 1934 and when they grew up became gangsters selling protection. Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

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Bonded by Blood See more »

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Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

9 November 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Kray fivérek  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,060,847
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(Technicolor)| (some footage)

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When he was killed George Cornell was 38 years old but Steven Berkoff was around 52 to 53 when he filmed this role. See more »

Goofs

Reg Kray takes Frances into her parents' garden where a 'decorative' garden gnome can be seen between them. Garden gnomes of the early 1960s were cast in plaster and painted but this one is of moulded plastic, a method of manufacture that wasn't used for this purpose until later. See more »

Quotes

Rose: I was on the bus the other day. And some old toerag was boasting about all he'd suffered during the war. Stupid old... I tell you, they don't know. It was the women who had the war - the real war. The women were left at home in the shit, not sitting in some sparkling plane or gleaming tank. There's no glamour for us. They should have been with me when old Pauline Woolley went in to labour. D'you remember that, Violet?
Violet Kray: Yes, yes I do, darling.
Rose: Seven hours of screaming down Bethnal Green bloody ...
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Connections

Referenced in Celebrity Big Brother: Day 3 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Balling the Jack
Performed by Jimmy Jewel
Written by Chris Smith and Jim Burris (as James Burris)
Published by Frances Day and Hunter Ltd
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User Reviews

 
Only nominally a gangster movie
16 May 2016 | by See all my reviews

"The Krays" isn't really about the famous London twin brothers who were gangsters. It's a feminist movie, about the plight of women during the Blitz in London, and particularly the collective trauma the wives of soldiers lived with when the war was over.

In one astonishing scene, the Krays' aunt gives a monologue about delivering a baby in the subway tunnels while German bombs rained down above. She had to kill the baby to protect the mother, but the mother died anyway. She imagines that if the subway tunnels are ever excavated, they'll be filled with dead babies - babies and bullets, signs of the true casualties of the war.

The women who lived through it, of course, are the only living remnants of it, and the trauma has forged a bond between them that is strong as iron. Interestingly, when one of the Krays leaves his girlfriend alone with his family, she is visibly uncomfortable. This particular sisterhood does not extend to her.

We are left wondering if this atmosphere of walking wounded produced the evil and violent Kray twins. The movie doesn't really make the connection. We see that the girlfriend, who then becomes the wife, is so unhappy in her life as a piece of property belonging to Reg Kray that she kills herself. She isn't treated as a human being by her husband, or his family. It's an easier conclusion to draw that the Krays were led to this objectifying attitude toward women by their doting, overbearing mother and ineffective father.

A problem with the movie is that wives suicide and mothers and aunts die, leaving us with... what? It's not about gangsters. It's about the war, and what the war did to its survivors, particularly the women. Without women in the picture, its purpose is removed, and the Kemps don't make that convincing gangsters.

The movie needed to be about what it was about, and only about that. There isn't enough of a connection drawn between it's major themes and the titular gangsters, for it to continue without that centre. It begins with astonishment and ends with confusion.


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