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Sense of Freedom, A (1979)

A Sense of Freedom was based on the autobiography of Glasgow gangster Jimmy Boyle, a brutal gangster who was reputed to be Scotland’s most violent man.

Boyle (David Hayman) is from the Gorbals – a deprived working-class area in Glasgow – and makes a living through his menace. Despite his violent demeanour, he is well-liked and gives money to the neighbourhood kids whose parents have no money.

Eventually given a life sentence for murder, the brutal man comes face to face with a brutal system. He feels violated by the prison warders who treat him as nothing more than an animal, but the harsh beatings he receives – and his frequent extended stretches in solitary confinement  –  just strengthen his will and resolve (although he does contemplate suicide).

This is an extremely powerful film and Hayman is superb as Jimmy Boyle.

The prison scenes were filmed in Dublin’s Kilmainham Jail because the Scottish Prison Service (unsurprisingly) would not cooperate with the filmmakers.

The Glaswegian accents are so thick that the non-Scottish viewer would benefit from subtitles at times, but a re-dubbed version exists with “softer” generic Scottish accents.

Jimmy Boyle
David Hayman
Robbie
Jake D’Arcy
Jackie
Sean Scanlan
Malkie
Alex Norton
Piper
John Murtagh
Chief Officer
Roy Hanlon
Bobbie Dugan
Martin Black
Inspector Davidson
Fulton Mackay
Uncle Jody
Hector Nicol
Bill
Bill Barclay
Ben
Alexander West
Malkie’s Wife
Lesley Mackie
Barman
Frank Welshman
Boyle’s Mother
Kate Gardiner
Mrs Docherty
Jan Wilson
Mr Docherty
Jimmy Martin
Archie
Billy Jeffrey
Mrs Johnson
Myra Forsyth
Sergeant Bobbie
Jim Boyce
Tam
Dave Anderson
Tam’s Wife
Anne Myatt
Sadie
Gaylie Runciman
Agnes
Irene Sunters
Det. Sergeant Williamson
John Stahl
PC Green
Jim Byars
Sheila
Monica Brady
Gus
Jim Gibb
Dunkie
Jimmy Yuill

Director
John Mackenzie