Empire (UK) - - BINGEWATCH -

STEVE pem­ber­ton: “One of my ab­so­lute favourites is the Danny boy se­quence in Miller’s Cross­ing. I re­mem­ber see­ing that in the cin­ema at not­ting Hill Gate and be­ing open-mouthed at the beauty of it, the au­dac­ity of it, the use of mu­sic. That’s been a big in­flu­ence on me. I love al­low­ing a piece of mu­sic to score some­thing. That se­quence, which is word­less, is per­fect. It fits the song from start to fin­ish. It puts a smile on my face, just think­ing about it.”


Through bil­low­ing cur­tains, we track across a room as two things play out on the sound­track: ‘Danny Boy’, by Frank Pat­ter­son, and the sounds of a vi­o­lent strug­gle. We come to rest on the body of Leo’s body­guard, freshly mur­dered, as an as­sas­sin walks out of the room. A cig­a­rette in the body­guard’s hand touches a news­pa­per, and sets it alight.

The as­sas­sin crosses to the front door, and opens it to re­veal a sec­ond as­sas­sin, hold­ing two Tommy guns. He hands one to the first as­sas­sin.

We next see the source of ‘Danny Boy’. A record on Leo’s gramo­phone. Leo (Al­bert Finney) is sprawled on his bed, in py­ja­mas, a paper across his lap. The hit­men walk up the stairs, Tommy guns low­ered.

Leo puffs on a cigar, con­tent. Then he no­tices some­thing amiss. A smell. He takes off his glasses and looks at the floor. Smoke is slowly ris­ing through the floor­boards.

The hit­men con­tinue to climb the stairs.

Leo, think­ing, looks at his bed­side ta­ble. A gun rests on it. He looks at his bed­room door.

The hit­men are now on the land­ing.

Leo, cigar in mouth and eyes fixed on the door, sits up and places his feet into his slip­pers. He stubs out the cigar in an ash­tray.

The door bursts open. Leo grabs his gun and rolls un­der the bed. The hit­men start fir­ing their guns into the floor, to­wards Leo, who fires his re­volver once, into the leg of the first as­sas­sin. He drops to the floor, where Leo puts a sec­ond bul­let into his head.

The other as­sas­sin turns and runs. Leo scram­bles out from un­der the bed, picks up the Tommy gun from the fallen hit­man, and sprints out of the bed­room, across the cor­ri­dor, dodg­ing a burst of gun­fire. He races to the win­dow, and throws the Tommy gun out onto the ground below. We see flames bil­low­ing from the down­stairs win­dow. Leo climbs out of the win­dow, onto the roof. We see that the en­tire ground floor is ablaze. Leo swings down off the roof, and drops onto the ground. He picks up the Tommy gun, and walks back­wards un­til he can see the sec­ond as­sas­sin framed in the up­stairs win­dow, clue­lessly look­ing for his prey.

Leo fires up, bul­lets thud­ding into the back of the sec­ond as­sas­sin, who fires his Tommy gun as a re­flex. Leo con­tin­ues to fire. So does the as­sas­sin, bul­lets slam­ming into the floor, into a paint­ing on the wall, into a chan­de­lier. Leo con­tin­ues to fire, his Tommy gun blaz­ing. Fi­nally the as­sas­sin, body rid­dled with lead, col­lapses.

Leo hears the squeal of tires. He turns to see a car car­ry­ing two more goons, try­ing to make a quick get­away. From the back seat, one goon fires a Tommy gun at Leo. Leo re­turns fire in stac­cato bursts. He fol­lows the car down the drive­way, fir­ing all the while. The goon’s bul­lets mirac­u­lously whizz around Leo, but noth­ing hits.

But his do. We hear the break­ing of glass, and then the car swerves on the drive­way, and into a tree. Flames im­me­di­ately leap up in­side the ve­hi­cle. Then it ex­plodes.

Leo stands in the road, smoke ris­ing from his gun. He takes an­other cigar out of his dress­ing room pocket and chews on it.

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