Synopsis by Paul Brenner
Peter Medak directed this fact-based drama, chronicling the lives of the infamous Kray Brothers, notorious celebrities in 60s London. The Krays were twin gangsters who ruled London's stylish East End club scene, staking out their territory by committing the most violent crimes imaginable, preferring to perform the most torturous acts themselves. The film stars Gary Kemp and Martin Kemp, founding members of the pop group Spandau Ballet, as Ronald and Reginald Kray. The film opens as their mother Violet Kray (Billie Whitelaw) recalls a dream in which she is a swan from which two beautiful babies have hatched. She can't tell if the swans are angels or demons, but the film soon answers that question for her. Brought up in London's East End in the 1930s, Ronald and Reginald Kray are raised in the resentful world of Violet, who is hateful of her lot in life and bitter at the control men have in running the world ("Housework is a lethal business," she says). The twins react to each other almost telepathically and they take out their anger by clogging the nose of their sleeping father (Alfred Lynch), pushing around fellow schoolboys, and even beating each other to pulp at a boxing match. When her mother chastises them for their fight in a fairground boxing ring ("You fight them up, but you don't fight each other"), the twins veer into the London underworld. In their self-contained world of Us-Against-Them, the Krays rapidly rise to the height of power, first taking over the territory of a petty mobster by violent means and then putting together an underworld empire of posh clubs, cars, and fancy suits. But at the height of their fame, the twins begin to break from each other. Reginald falls in love with Frances (Kate Hardie), while Ronald gets involved in a homosexual relationship with one of his underlings. Ronald, in a jealous rage over Frances stealing his brother away from him, becomes even more brutal in his crimes and while the brothers' backs are turned, a group of older mobsters challenge the Krays' authority, invoking a horrible bloodbath that effects not only the two brothers but Frances and Violet as well.
gangster, brother, mother, psychopath, protection-racket