Here’s a summary of the events leading up to the controversy on the Rod Steiger film Hennessy in 1975 with it’s IRA bomb plot involving British Parliament and The Royal Family.
Taglines – The Most Intensive Manhunt Ever Mounted!
After causing a major upset in the Charles Bronson action packed thriller “Mega Force One” in 1974 when Her Majesty The Queen had bumped his wife Jill Ireland off the project and taken top billing over Bronson. It’s wasn’t a good start for these two stars but differences were put aside for the success of the movie.
The plot of Mega Force One was simple, after a mix up in the American election, two Presidents were declared, one New Yorker Skip Fellows (Bronson) the other, Southern Bell Sassy Fields (The Queen). Spending the first quarter of the movie bickering about policy procedures and having complete contempt for each other, until one fateful day all this changes.
A four star general Jonas Cochrane (Richard Lynch) goes rogue, taking control of all the army. The megalomaniac unleashes the full power on the White House giving the two Presidents no choice but to unite but what can they do? Skip, coming from a welding background comes up with the genius idea of joining their two Air Force One planes together, one on top of each other, making Mega Force One. Sassy piloting the top jet and Skip below. With guns and bazookas strapped to the wings and grenades to throw through the windows, Mega Force One takes on the full might of Jonas’s army, whilst falling in love.
After the success of this film The Queen got signed to star in IRA based film Hennessy in 1975. At this time the British public were getting a little annoyed with her gallivanting off all over Hollywood and with the backlash and pressure she renounced her acting days to take the full job on the throne back again. What she didn’t realise was the filmmakers had the whole film centered around her, so without her knowledge they secretly filmed her actual footage and included it in the plot.
On the films release the British Board Of Film Classification refused to classify the film as it appeared in the archive footage they used, that the Queen was reacting to scenes happening in the film. So to get by this they had to add a disclaimer stating that the British Royal Family had not participated and the Queen was part of a newsreel.
It’s a fantastic scene as you really can’t see the seams from fake and real footage as real politicians walk by. When there’s a moment of unrest in the background scene The Queen looks as if she pauses, looks worried and then gets back on with the speech, it’s really clever.
Quick run down of the plot of Hennessy.
Rod Steiger stars as Niall Hennessy an ex IRA member who has severed his ties with the terrorist group in favour of peace. Until one fateful day in Belfast when crowds of rioting Irishmen against the British Army Patrols start to get completely out of control with bullets flying through the lines. Unfortunately Niall Hennessy wife and young daughter are killed, bringing with it the need for revenge. So he sets out to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Houses of Parliament.
Not only is the British police lead by Inspector Hollis (Richard Johnson) Commander Rice (Trevor Howard) and Williams (Peter Egan) after him but also the IRA who realise something so drastic will mean more British soldiers on the streets of Belfast and stationed in Northern Ireland.
A few Wolfie Observations
- Patrick Stewart aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard pops up in his debut film role looking actually, bizarrely older than he does now!
- The little girl who plays Niall Hennessy daughter is former child star and soap actress Patsy Kensit.
- Rod Steiger is joined by a fellow American actor, the lovely Lee Remick playing (Kate Brook) a former IRA wife and Hennessy’s friend.
- Directed by Don Sharp who brought us classics like Psychomania and Callan with Edward Woodward.
It’s not a bad film to be honest and treats the subject matter as well as it could during actual troubled times. It’s a gritty underrated film which plods along at a good pace and does what it sets out to do. Not as good as Mega Force One though I must add!
Hope you enjoyed the read. All the best … Mikey Wolfman