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Real Money (1996)

Courtesy of Team Pictures

Main image of Real Money (1996)
Team Pictures for Channel 4, tx. 4/1/1996, 75 mins, colour
DirectorRon Peck
Production CompanyTeam Pictures
ProducerMark Ayres
ScreenplayRon Peck
PhotographyCarl Ross
MusicAdrian Carbutt

Cast: Mark Tibbs (Bobby Kane); Jimmy Tibbs (Roy Kane); Steve Roberts (Terry); Dean Hollington (Joey); Rita Lawrence (Annie); Mark Kaylor (Johnny); Jimmy Flint (Frankie Chalmers); Jason Rowland (Danny)

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A boxing trainer is determined to stop a gangster luring his young boxers into drug dealing and pornography. When his son is arrested for possession, and his subsequent warning visit to the gangster is ignored, he decides it's time to sort things out once and for all...

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Ron Peck devised this drama shot on video and set in the world of the characters he met when making his earlier documentary Fighters (1991) . Many of the boxers, ex-boxers, their families and trainers play themselves or versions of themselves in the film.

The central theme of the film is the dilemma faced by young men in a poor community between legal and illegal ways to better themselves in a society in which they are disadvantaged by class, and in which it is difficult to find good jobs. Some choose the route of boxing, hoping to make enough money by the time finish their professional careers at 30 to set themselves up in a small business that will sustain them for life. Others fall into crime, either as lackeys to gangsters, or building up their own crime empire around nightclubs, robbery, pornography and drugs.

The film points out that sometimes the situation can be even more pernicious than this. Gangland bosses like Frank Chalmers, played by ex-boxer Jimmy Flint, prey on upcoming boxers, offering them easy riches and quick way out of their gruelling training regimes. Even more effective is attracting ex-boxers who know their money-making days are over and who face an uncertain future. Kids, like Spanner, are also vulnerable, not understanding that stealing guns is not just another game.

Set against Frank is the boxing trainer, Roy, played by famous trainer Jimmy Tibbs. Roy comes to understand that Frank's activities threaten the very fabric of local society, and that only he has the strength and trust of the community to confront Frank. The end is ambiguous, though - we are not sure if Roy is responsible for organising the shooting of Frank, or if it was arranged by one of his other enemies.

Although sometimes the acting appears a little creaky and the production values rather low, the non-professional actors in Real Money have to be commended for their contribution to the film. The film is a genuinely collaborative community project, and the script was largely devised in rehearsal. The boxer-actors appear nearly as compelling on the screen as they do in the ring.

Helen de Witt

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Video Clips
1. Decisions (2:52)
2. Looking for spanner (1:29)
4. The fight (4:02)
Big Fella (1937)
Fighters (1992)
Ring, The (1927)
Peck, Ron (1948-)