Alan Bleasdale Presents Requiem Apache

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Hamish (Alfred Molina) has left his former life as a getaway driver far behind. Now ensconced in a bucolic English village and living a contented existence with his wife and baby daughter, everything seems perfect. Which it is until his old friends come calling and ask him to join them in one final job. But with his wife away he’s been left holding the baby – so even if he wanted to, juggling the twin demands of a life of crime and baby care might turn out to be a little tricky ….

Alan Bleasdale Presents was a short series of C4 television films broadcast during 1994. With Bleasdale acting as producer and mentor, the series gave a handful of young writers valuble exposure and the opportunity to hone their talents. And there’s no doubt that his name on the project helped to attract the cream of the acting profession (Requiem Apache, for example, featured brief appearances from the likes of Julie Walters).

This appears to be Raymond Murtagh’s only script for either film or television, which is a slightly surprising since it’s a quirky and entertaining piece (Murtagth’s other credits were all on the acting front – he appeared in various series including Crown Court, Juliet Bravo and Doctor Who).

Once Hamish’s wife swiftly departs aboard for a foreign trip, he throws himself into the task of looking after his daughter Laura (Aimee and Lynsay Bullard) with gusto. There’s a definite “aww” factor to these scenes, helped no end by the baby actor. The scene where Hamish engages Laura in conversation and she turns to stare at him could clearly never be scripted, but is a lovely moment nonetheless!

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Elsewhere though, storm clouds are brewing. A mysterious individual, credited only as the Juice Man (Robin Lefevre) is putting the squeeze on Hamish’s old boss, Tony (Kenneth Cranham), who in turn decides to put the squeeze on Hamish. The Juice Man certainly makes an impact with his handful of scenes. He gets his name from the way he intimidates a hapless barman (Christopher Ryan – another well known face appearing in a fairly small role) into giving him an immaculately poured glass of orange juice. The Juice Man also has a unique way of disposing of people who displease him ….

As good as Alfred Molina is, Requiem Apache really springs to life whenever Kenneth Cranham is on the screen. Effortlessly stealing every scene he appears in, he gives a beautifully judged performance which adds an extra level of quality to the production. Andrew Schofield and Ralph Brown (as Tony’s fixers, Rocky and Mick) are also good value – they’re mainly cast as comic foils, but are also responsible for the occasional darker moment (these brief bursts of violence are especially jolting given that the majority of the story is played almost like an Ealing Comedy).

The climatic bank robbery, with Hamish as the driver and Tony, Rocky and Mick cast in the unlikely roles of three blind men (all the better for confusing the bank staff) then leads into a final payoff which I doubt many would have seen coming. But whilst it might be unexpected it’s also a satisfying conclusion which ties up all the loose ends.

As touched upon before, there’s plenty of quality in this cast. Along with Julie Walters’ cameo (which doesn’t advance the plot at all, but passes a few minutes very agreeably) it’s also nice to see Sam Kelly, Chris Ryan, Peter Benson and Jon Laurimore passing through and at just 77 minutes the story doesn’t outstay its welcome.

An amusing comedy romp which isn’t afraid to go dark at times, Requiem Apache is a brisk treat, powered along by the excellent cast. Recommended.

Requiem Apache is released by Simply Media on the 28th of May 2018, RRP £14.99. It can be ordered directly from Simply here (quoting ARCHIVE10 will apply a 10% discount).

3 thoughts on “Alan Bleasdale Presents Requiem Apache

  1. As well as the four ALAN BLEASDALE PRESENTS films in 1994, there is – technically, although one could argue against it – a fifth transmitted in 1998.

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    • Soft Sand Blue Sea? It’s being released by Simply, along with the four from 1994, during the next few weeks, although it’s not tagged as an “Alan Bleasdale Presents”, just as “Alan Bleasdale’s”

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      • That sounds like a very good compromise. There were intended to be more of them, after Bleasdale’s serials Jake’s Progress and Melissa were completed, but by then Michael Grade, who was in favour of this, had ceased running Channel 4, and his replacement, Michael Jackson, was not so keen.

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