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The Damned United

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(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: R — for language
  • Director: Tom Hooper   Cast: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent, Joseph Dempsie
  • Running Time: 98 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review




Andy Harries


Sony Pictures Classics

Release Date

Oct 9, 2009

Release Notes


Official Website


Screenwriter Peter Morgan is plainly fascinated by seminal moments in television—the queen mourning Diana, Frost grilling Nixon—and has written a third film that builds to a broadcast interview. The Damned United is more Eurocentric but quite enjoyable, even for those of us who don’t follow British “football.” In 1974, Coach Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) takes over big-deal Leeds United from a man named Don Revie (Colm Meaney), alienates the players, and lasts a miserable six weeks. The film, briskly directed by mini-series whiz Tom Hooper, flashes between Clough’s battles in Leeds and his triumphant early years in Derby, where he turns a second-division team into champions with the aid of his loyal chum Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall). It’s when Clough is sacked and, stricken, goes on a chat show with Revie that he spits out the source of his furious ambition: After their first game, Revie walked past him without shaking hands. Sheen, who played Tony Blair in The Queen and Frost in Frost/Nixon, is lean and wiry with bulging eyes: The angrier he gets, the more frozen. As in Morgan’s other films, TV is a revelatory, humbling force. If nothing else, The Damned United is a profound lesson in how not to be a new boss.

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