Hennessy (film)

Hennessy is a 1975 British thriller film directed by Don Sharp and starring Rod Steiger, Trevor Howard, Lee Remick, Richard Johnson, Peter Egan, Stanley Lebor and Patrick Stewart, the latter in his film debut.[1]

Directed byDon Sharp
Produced byPeter Snell
Screenplay byJohn Gay
StarringRod Steiger
Lee Remick
Richard Johnson
Music byJohn Scott
CinematographyErnest Steward
Edited byErik Boyd-Perkins
Hennessy Film Productions
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures
Cannon Films
Release date
  • 31 July 1975 (1975-07-31) (USA)
Running time
103 min
CountryUnited Kingdom


After the death of his family during a riot in Belfast, Niall Hennessy comes up with a plan to blow up the British Houses of Parliament.[2]



Production started in February 1974 and finished in September.[3][4]

Footage of Queen Elizabeth

The film contained footage of Queen Elizabeth II speaking at the State Opening of Parliament and apparently reacting to something happening in the House of Lords, taken in 1970. The clips were purchased by AIP from Movietone News and incorporated in the film. Buckingham Palace consented to use of the clip in the film but later said this was a misunderstanding as to the way the news footage would be used in the film and they would not do it again.[5] [6]


The British Board of Film Classification initially refused to classify the film because of the footage. Producer Samuel Z. Arkoff managed to get it passed by adding a disclaimer stating that the British Royal Family had not participated and footage of the Queen was from newsreel and by cutting a six second sequence where the Queen appeared to react to the explosion [5]

The Rank Organisation then refused to screen the film in its Odeon Cinemas, citing commercial reasons. EMI also refused to distribute it, with Chairman Sir Bernard Delfont claiming it was too sympathetic to the IRA to be shown at that present time.[6] Critics such as Alexander Walker protested against this.[7]

As a result it was only shown at a small number of independent cinemas.[8]

Critical Reception

The Guardian called it "quite a good thriller".[9]

The Los Angeles Times called it "routine but competent."[10]


  1. Variety film review; 23 July 1975, page 20.
  2. http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/36138
  3. anonymous (1974). "no title". Journal: Society of Film and Television Arts. 1–2: 20.
  4. Great Scenes on Film in 'The Movies' Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times 13 Feb 1974: e7.
  5. News Clip of Queen Causes Film Flap Los Angeles Times 7 June 1975: f18.
  6. Royal flush The Guardian 24 June 1975: 15.
  7. Movies: Critics boo British ban on 'Hennessy' Massey, Patrick. Chicago Tribune 13 July 1975: e15.
  8. Kevin Rockett (1996). The Irish Filmography: Fiction Films, 1896-1996. Red Mountain Media. p. 184. ISBN 0952669803.
  9. Offer they couldn't defuse: Derek Malcolm reviews new films The Guardian 17 July 1975: 10.
  10. MOVIE REVIEW: 'Hennessy' Has Royal Look 'Hennessy' Gets Royal Treatment Champlin, Charles. Los Angeles Times 30 July 1975: e1.
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