No Surrender (1985) Poster


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Nothing like it-- a bleak, intelligent satire about impasse
warthenj29 February 2000
I wanted to see this film from the moment I read its TIMES' summation: a sheepish night-club manager shows up for work at his new Liverpool job, and discovers his predecessor, as a kiss-off gesture, has scheduled Catholic and Protestant Irish social groups for the same night (he also saved some tables for mental patients, having a night-out). The evening's entertainment features a thrash-band screaming lyrics like "YOU'RE GONNA DIE-- DIE--DIE!" at the golden agers, a catatonic magician.....The rookie sets out to get through the impossible night ahead. The accents are fuzzy, and some of the Irish jokes obscure-- but this film is so filled with talent that wonderful Bernard Hill takes a second-tier role as a dim bulb. The film's moral center is that remarkable character actor Ray McAnally, a detective trying to find a real criminal among all the low-lifes. Few people have voted on this film-- but a lot of them accorded it a 10. Scout around and discover why-- this is one singular film.
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Mid 1980's an unemployed man takes over the running of a rundown nightclub on New Years Eve.
galba3-12 March 2006
Liverpool mid 1980's New Years Eve an unemployed man finds work managing a run down night club only to find that the local Orange lodge OAP's and Catholic Society old folks have been booked in on the same night. Mix in the worst night club acts ever seen, local gangsters, ageing terrorists and a wickedly dark humour. Hopefully this should be released on DVD soon? Bernard Hill is as usual a real star and has an appearance by Joanne Whalley in one of her first roles. Michael Angelis is excellent and the film is a real joy especially in its use of a dry humour that all visitors to Liverpool will recognise. This is a real slice of social commentary and show cases several cameo appearances including Elvis Costello as a 'walking nervous breakdown' / magician. I have since traced a copy of No Surrender after three years of searching and converted it to DVD as a back up copy. I had forgotten how wonderful the humour was I shall upgrade my ranking just on the strength of this. This film has atmosphere a real taste of my early adult life in early 80's Britain showing it was not all big hair do's and mobile phones the size of bricks.
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A Very British Film
beau geste 3828 April 2004
A very British film. In fact, a very Liverpool film.

Can't see many Americans liking this black comedy, but most Brits with a half decent sense of humour should love it. I first saw this in 1986 and loved it, as a follow up to `The Blackstuff'.

Writer Bleasedale had great success writing for T.V. and I'm surprised he didn't do more films (this was his only film). This was one of my favourite films of the eighties so I bought the video to see if it had stood the test of time. I gave this 10 / 10 in 1986, and even though it is dated, the gritty humour shines through the underlying theme of sectarian divide, that still existed at the time.

Bernard Hill plays a " Yosser type" bouncer, at a Liverpool social club. Michael Angelis plays the laid back new manager, as a typical scouser who's seen it all. Joanne Whalley plays the club's dogsbody, with ambitions to be a singer, and does a great job. The film is loaded with great character actors including the marvellous Joan Turner.
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Black comedy
malo_129 March 2006
I first watched this film about 20 years ago and remembered it as a very good piece of black comedy. having recently viewed it again I still found it very good and hilarious in parts but it is now dated and anyone who isn't familiar with the "troubles" in Ulster will probably find a lot of the plot and humour will sail straight over their heads. Considering the cast line up, the acting is pretty good and Bernard Hill is superb as always. The scene with the attempted mugging of the blind man (played by the fella who was the sergeant in Z cars) still has me in stitches. All in all a very watchable film BUT very British and a little dated.
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witty, funny, tragic, profound - a great movie
jd11025 January 2005
Just like in Josep Heller's book "Catch 22" this move, uses black humour to make some very poignant and telling observations on the ultimate futility of hatred and fighting. The underlying message shouldn't be seen as "Life is short - hat's the point?" it is more "Life is short what's the point in nursing sectarian hatred to the end of your days?". Some might see this as a film with a bleak outlook on humanity (at least the variety that hails from the northern part of my native country), however, I think that this film really has a message of hope when we see how Ray McNally's staunchly Protestan/Unionist character learns from the experiences and offers news year's greetings to his Catholic son-in-law. A New Year greeting that symbolizes a new beginning in his family and perhaps an inspirational model for us all, remember, when the grim reaper comes for us, he/she won't care whether we are Catholic/Protestant, Nationalist/Unionist.
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Dark, bleak but very funny
mac-hawk19 September 2009
I watched this again the other day and it's probably 20 years since I last saw it but it's still unbelievably dark & chaotically funny. Michael Angelis & Bernard Hill are just brilliant & Vince Earl shows just the right amount of menace in his role as Frank. Ray McAnally's character forms part of the central plot, being a former Unionist activist trying to get away from/live with his violent past despite the constant provocation from Paddy Burke (James Ellis). If you're British/Irish of a certain age and lived through 70's/80's or are perhaps a student of the Irish 'troubles' - and you have to have a sense of dark humour - you'll love this. Your main problem will be getting hold of a copy as it incredibly difficult to find copies of it as I believe Alan Bleasedale (the author) withdrew it.
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lively satire of the DisUnited Kingdom
mjneu5920 December 2010
The opening title sets the scene: "Liverpool, New Years' Eve. Just another night out (these days)". Into the same shabby nightclub on the outskirts of town come two separate parties of old-age pensioners out to ring in the New Year, one devoutly Protestant, with a fugitive terrorist hiding in their ranks, and the other a group of Irish Catholics dressed for a costume ball, led by a blind ex-boxer with a grudge to settle. Occupying the no-man's land in between is a collection of mentally retarded hospital patients blissfully unaware that they've simply traded one asylum for another. To make matters worse, the comedy act is a total flop, the magician's rabbit commits a nuisance under his hat (while he's wearing it), and the dance band turns out to be a nihilistic post-punk group who chant "We're gonna die die die die die…" The resulting bedlam is rowdy, hilarious, and chilling, with a dark streak of humor deeply rooted in the tragic religious and political antagonism defining life in modern England.
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Jet black comedy from the depths of tartarus.
ianmulcahy23 February 2019
As a point of note, it is not a scheduling 'mix up', the previous manager has created the 'events' to upset his boss.
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Could only happen in Liverpool - and probably has.
oldvinyl11 January 2017
I can't give this a 10, if only because I had a strong sense of wanting a story of some kind that I could follow along. I'm a writer and I understand plots and how they are put together so something like No Surrender throws me off. After a while I realised that this film is just made to be enjoyed as a slice of the typical madness that is a constant undercurrent of Liverpool even if you don't notice it at any particular moment. The characters of the Orange Lodge were no more zany than the auntie of one of my mates in Liverpool back in the 70s. When I turned up wearing orange trousers one day, she assumed that I was going to take part in an Orange Lodge march. It's all in there. Alan Bleasdale has crammed every classic Liverpool stereotype into this. The has-been but still dangerous IRA man, wanted by Special Branch. The feral kids on the estate. Just sit back and enjoy.
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High expectations, poor results...
kergillian18 February 2001
I'd heard a lot about this film, 99% of it good. So I picked the film up to take a gander, and was terribly disappointed. It took me two tries to even finish the film! Michael Angelis was actually quite good in the main role, and Elvis Costello was amusing in his cameo appearance as a daft magician. But the good ended there. The jokes were dated, the sound was horrid, the plot was garbled and *much* too long. Was only 1 hour 40 but felt like more than two hours... There were some very funny moments (including the band, which was hilarious, and an attempted mugging of a blind man, the results of which also had me laughing) but most of the humour was lost in the drag of this plodding film. And when the end came it was a horrid finish! I'd give it a 1/10 if I hadn't actually enjoyed any part of it, but as it stands I can rate it no higher than a three. 3/10.
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Worst film I have ever seen!
hesketh271 August 2011
I saw this film for the first time last night on DVD. I was prepared to give it a go as I do like most of the cast. The film is quite simply appalling and frankly I am surprised that any of the players ever worked again. The script stinks, the acting is dreadful, the comic timing and delivery of lines woeful. In particular, Joanne Whalley's scouse accent is risible. It seemed to last forever and considering it was supposed to be a comedy I sat through it without so much as raising a smile. I was soooooo grateful when it was finally over. Do not waste time on sitting through this car crash of a film, life is short and you will never get the time back again.
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Doesn't Stand The Test Of Time
Theo Robertson5 July 2013
Leonard Maltin totally confuses the politics of this film . He refers to Ray McNally's character as being " a former IRA gunman " when in fact he's from the opposite side of the sectarian divide . He's called Billy , refers to his religion , politics and football team being true blue and in his introductory scene his erstwhile colleague refers to " for God and Ulster " which is the motto of the Ulster Volunterr Force . Being brought up in the west of Scotland people tend to notice these though I have no agenda in noticing things like that . I do remember laughing at the sectarian jokes seen here and discussing it with friends who'd describe themselves as " protestant " or "catholic " but in reality were merely agnostics who followed Rangers or Celtic . I found little in it to laugh about it now

Thankfully the world has moved on from the mid 1980s which means the humour of this film has dated to the point of being painfully unfunny - and quite right too . Most of the humour in this plot less tale comes out of party of catholic OAP bigots being booked in to a nightclub with a party of protestant OAP bigots . Watching it today I thought I'd never start laughing at this subplot - and I didn't . No one laughs at the " N " word so what's funny about shouts of " ya fenian b*stards " and " ya orange b*stards " ? Nothing . That said there is some amusement watching a Rangers -Celtic match which in secular circles is known as " The chimps tea party " and realising that people who can't stand either team are ahead in the evolutionary ladder by about 300 years

The better scenes are those when Michael Angelis nightclub manager Mike and Bernard Hill's thick , thuggish and homophobic bouncer Bernard appear on screen together . Shades of Alan Bleasdale's previous and legendary landmark scathing blackly comical series BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF whose cast make several reappearances here . That reminds me I'll have to visit BLACKSTUFF but I've got a feeling that drama is also dated
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