Skip Trinity Banner Navigation

Skip to main content »

Trinity College Dublin

Skip Main Navigation

Film Details

Production companyMerlin Films
J&M Entertainment Productions
SponsorBórd Scánnán na hEireann/Irish Film Board
Country of originIreland
Great Britain
ProducerBOORMAN, John
DirectorBOORMAN, John
Script/AdaptationBOORMAN, John
PhotographyDEASY, Seamus
Sound recordingDEASY, Brendan
EditingDAVIS, Ron
Production designWALLACE, Derek
Costume designPATERSON, Maeve
Executive producerCORRIGAN, Kieran
Pettitte, P.J.
DAVIS, Betsy
Music composerBUCKLEY, Richie
Music performanceBUCKLEY, Richie (SolO'Saxophone)
MORRISON, Van (Harmonica/Vocals)
KING, Philip (Harmonica)
BUCKLEY, Dick (Baritone Saxphone)
Wind Machine (Brass Section)
McALEER, Paul (Drums)
REILLY, Bernard (percussion)
CONNOR, , Brian
McGLYNN, Arty (Guitars)
CastBrendan Gleeson (Martin Cahill), Adrian Dunbar (Noel Curley), Sean McGinley (Gary), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Frances), Angeline Ball (Tina), Jon Voight (Inspector Ned Kenny), Eanna MacLiam (Jimmy), Tom Murphy (Willie Byrne), Paul Hickey (Anthony), Tommy O'Neill (Paddy), John O'Toole (Shea), Ciaran Fitzgerald (Tommy), Ned Dennehy (Gey), Vinnie Murphy (Harry), Roxanna Williams (Orla), Pat Laffan (Higgins), Eamon Owens (young Martin Cahill), Colleen O'Neill (Patricia), Maebh Gorby (Sylvie), Frank Melia (Lawless), Ronan Wilmot (James Donovan), Lynn Cahill (arcade woman), David Wilmot (assassin), Stephen Brennan (Arthur Ryan), Don Wicherley (Henry Mackie), Kevin Flood (judge), Pat Kinevan (desk guard), Barry McGovern (IRA leader), Pat Leavy (Mrs Duggan), Neile Conroy (Maeve), Peter Hugo Daly (Beavis), Aoife Moriarity (young Frances), Brendan Coyle (UVF leader), Jim Sheridan (CPAD leader), Gavin Kelty (young Hood No. 1), Owen O'Neill (revenue man), David Carey (revenue man),Niamh Lineham (reporter), Jason Byrne (reporter), Ann Doyle (TV newsreader), Darragh Kelly (young detective), Des O'Malley (himself).
SoundDolby Stereo
Release date1998
TX date11/08/2005
SummaryDublin, August 1994. Upon leaving his home, Martin Cahill (aka 'The General'), is shot dead by an IRA gunman. Flashbacks show Cahill's formative years, on the Hollyfield estate, where he grew into an expert cat-burgler, always one step ahead of police inspector Ned Kenny. Cahill refuses to leave the estate even when it is bulldozed around him, but eventually he moves to Rathmines. Cahill marries and raises a family with his childhood sweetheart Frances, but he also carries on (with Frances' consent) a long-standing affair with her sister Tina. With his gang, including Noel, Gary, Harry and Gay, in tow Cahill stages a daring raid on a wholesale jewellers. The IRA learns of the robbery and demands a 50 per cent cut of the proceeds, but Cahill refuses to agree. Emboldened by success, Cahill's team steal a priceless hoard of paintings from the Beit family collection. By now the police have him under constant surveillance and the only buyers for the haul are the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). When word leaks out that Cahill has been dealing with the UVF, he is regarded as a traitor by the IRA while also coming under increasing police surveillance. When his gang disintegrates, Cahill becomes paranoid and isolated. On the morning of his death, he finds that the police cordon around his house has been removed and he walks unguarded towards his car and death.
ReferenceS&S 1998 6:44

Publicity: synopsis, production information, filmmaker and cast biographies, cast and credits lists, director John Boorman's personal account of making The General. Held at the Tiernan MacBride Lirary of the Irish Film Institute.

Irish Film and Television Net: News, 1998:4, ‘Saluting The General’, interview with director John Boorman and actor Brendan Gleeson about making The General (Paul Byrne).

Sunday Times, 15/2/98:6, ‘Spacey lines up Cahill movie’, actor Kevin Spacey to star in Martin Cahill film Ordinary Decent Criminal after legal rows with John Boorman and Merlin Films resolved (Jan Battles).

Sunday Business Post, 29/3/98:52, ‘Getting in on the film act’, former secretary of the Department of Enterprise Kevin Bonner invited to join the board of Merlin Films by John Boorman, director of The General (Damien Kiberd).

Irish Times (Weekend), 11/4/98:16, ‘General release’, article on three films made on the life of Martin Cahill, including John Boorman's The General (Hugh Linehan).

Irish Times, 17/4/98, ‘New Lolita passed without cuts’, film censor Sheamus Smith passes John Boorman's The General uncut and with Over-15 certificate.

Sunday Business Post, 19/4/98:40, ‘So maybe crime does pay’, John Boorman's film about Martin Cahill I Once Had A Life (later named The General) selected for the Palme D'Or at Cannes (Damien Kiberd).

Irish Times, 24/4/98:5, ‘The General goes to Cannes’, report of two Irish films at Cannes - John Boorman's The General and Martin Mahon's Happy Birthday To Me (Michael Dwyer).

Irish Times, 25/4/98:12, ‘Putting The General in the picture’, preview of the film The General and quotes from director John Boorman about the portrayal of Cahill (Michael Dwyer).

Sunday Tribune, 26/4/98:5, ‘The General film hots up black market’, John Boorman's film I Once Had A Life (re-named The General) top of black market (Maeve Sheehan).

Sunday Independent, 26/4/98:11L, ‘The battle of the Generals’, report of the cinematic battle between Martin Cahill biopics - John Boorman's The General, Thaddeus O'Sullivan's Ordinary Decent Criminal and David Blair's Cast A Cold Eye (Michael Sheridan).

Tribune Magazine, 10/5/98:10-12, ‘General issues’, actor Brendan Gleeson interviewed about portraying Martin Cahill in the film The General, and about his career developments (Ciaran Carty).

The Guardian, 15/5/98:6-7, ‘Screen: Meet The General...’, analysis of director John Boorman's portrayal of Martin Cahill in the film The General compared to real life events (John Mullin).

Irish Times, 16/5/98:4, ‘Crime time’, director John Boorman interviewed on his film The General , the portrayal of Martin Cahill and casting for the film (Michael Dwyer).

The Guardian, 16/5/98:4, ‘The future of film - in black and white’, director John Boorman explains why his film The General was shot in black and white (John Boorman).

Tribune Magazine, 17/5/98:4-5, ‘Black-and-white gold’, review of The General, and pre-Cannes interview with director John Boorman about the production of the film (Ciaran Carty).

Ireland on Sunday, 17/5/98:12, ‘Focus: Glamourising Crime’, feature on different aspects of the film the General - Brendan Gleeson and John Boorman quoted, the portrayal of Cahill opposed to real life and small article on other criminals portrayed in films (Kevin MacDermot).

Ireland on Sunday, 17/5/98:13, ‘Film is repulsive, Cahill victim says’, victim of attack critical of film The General and the portrayal of Martin Cahill (John Mooney).

Ireland on Sunday, 17/5/98:13, ‘Just a bully boy’, analysis of Martin Cahill's life, and criticism of his portrayal in John Boorman's film The General (John Mooney).

Irish Times, 20/5/98:11, ‘Boorman film The General tipped for a prize at Cannes’, report from Cannes on prospect of The General winning an award, and director and cast members at press conference (Michael Dwyer).

The Guardian, 22/5/98:9, ‘Not so big studio pictures’, brief review of the film The General.

Irish Times, 23/5/98:16, ‘General rejoicing’, report from Cannes on celebrations following screening of The General (Michael Dwyer).

Sunday Tribune, 24/5/98:3, ‘Danish idiots set tone in Cannes’, speculative report from Cannes on whether The General will win an award (Ciaran Carty).

Sunday Tribune, 24/5/98:3, ‘General movies row annoys victims of Cahill’,
legal rows involving John Boorman's film The General (Maeve Sheehan).

Tribune Magazine, 24/5/98:9-13, ‘Martin Cahill and the making of a myth’, account of real events in Martin Cahill's life which formed the basis for the film The General (Maeve Sheehan).

Sunday Independent, 24/5/98:13, ‘The General joins Boorman's gang’, director John Boorman interviewed about reactions to making his film The General (Paul Byrne).

Sunday Times, 24/5/98:11, ‘Justice from the jury?’, long analysis of plot and characterisation of the film The General (Gerry McCarthy).

Sunday Business Post, 24/5/98:40, ‘General madness’, review of film The General on the eve of the awards at Cannes (Marion McKeone).

Sunday Business Post, 24/5/98:40, ‘Taking the Cannes climate’, personal account of Cannes, mentioning Irish films showing including The General (Rod Stoneman).

Sunday Independent, 24/5/98:3L, ‘Spotting starlets on the Croisette’, personal account of Cannes week, mentioning reaction to and success of The General (Hugh Leonard).

Sunday Independent, 24/5/98:13L, ‘Gleeson in awards gossip’, report from Cannes on chances for actor Brendan Gleeson to win award for his portrayal of Martin Cahill in the film The General (Ronan Farren).

Sunday Tribune, 24/5/98:20, ‘Whipped and Cannesed’, account of party in Cannes attended by cast and crew of the film The General.

Sunday Times (Culture), 24/5/98:43-6, ‘Asking for trouble’, interview with director John Boorman on Lee Marvin, Martin Cahill and the film The General (Philip Norman).

Sunday Independent, 24/5/98:36L, ‘Cannes do?’, account of Irish Film Board party at Cannes attended by cast of the film The General (Djinn Gallagher).

Irish Times, 25/5/98:11, ‘Arthouse wins out, and The General wins too’, director John Boorman wins best director award at Cannes for The General (Michael Dwyer).

Irish Times, 26/5/98, ‘Boorman clicks with paddyazzi’, report of director John Boorman arriving back in Ireland with his award from Cannes for his film The General (Roisin Ingle).

Irish Times, 28/5/98:5, ‘The General comes to town’, report of the cast and celebrity turnout for the premiere in Dublin of the film The General (Louise East).

Irish Times, 29/5/98:38, ‘No generalisations please’, review of the film The General (Michael Dwyer).

The Guardian, 29/5/98:8, ‘General applause’, review of the film The General.
(Richard Williams).

Irish Times, 29/5/98:13, ‘Camping it up at Cannes’, end of week report from Cannes mentioning the film The General (Michael Dwyer).

Irish Times, 30/5/98:14, ‘Comments’, criticism and response quotes from radio interview with John Boorman about his film the General.

Irish Times, 30/5/98:2, ‘General kerfuffle’, report of cast turnout at the Savoy in Dublin for the premiere of the film The General.

Irish Times, 30/5/98:9, ‘General's victims fail to find the funny side’, victim of Martin Cahill's accounts the real life events used in the film The General (Kathy Sheridan).

Tribune Magazine, 31/5/98:12, review (Ciaran Carty).

Sunday Tribune, 31/5/98:5, ‘Ireland loses its attraction for filmmakers, producer claims’, comment on Ireland losing out to UK as film location by Kieran Corrigan, executive producer of the film The General (Tom McEnaney).

Sunday Times, 31/5/98:11, ‘Robbed of tragedy’, review (Tom Shone).

Sunday Independent, 31/5/98:15L, ‘A triumph for Boorman and Gleeson’, favourable review of the film The General, and Brendan Gleeson's performance (Ronan Farren).

Sunday Independent, 31/5/98:14L, ‘No bridge over the river quite yet’, response to actor Brendan Gleeson and director John Boorman appearing on The Late Late Show, talking about the film The General (Declan Lynch).

Sunday Independent, 31/5/98:5, ‘The murderous legacy of crime’, edited extract of radio interview given by a victim of Martin Cahill, whose life was the basis for the film the General (Dr James Donovan).

Sunday Independent, 31/5/98:5, ‘Glorifying the gangsters’, critical analysis of the film The General, for glamourising a criminal (John Drennan).

Sunday Business Post, 31/5/98, ‘Agenda’, report on post-Cannes career prospects for actor Brendan Gleeson, star of the film The General.

Irish Times, 5/6/98, ‘Loach returns to Irish theme’, paragraph on box office returns in Ireland and Britain for the release weekend of The General (Michael Dwyer).

Irish Times, 6/6/98:11, Paul Williams, writer of The General book used for the basis of the film, signing copies of his work (Michael Dwyer).

Sunday Times, 7/6/98:11, ‘Dedalus’, paragraph on experiences at premiere of The General of its writer, Paul Williams.

Film Ireland, June/July 1998:34-5, reviews (Paul Duane).

Film West, July 1998:62-3, review (Nicky Fennell).

Sunday Independent, 5/7/98:18L, ‘An exciting score is General electric’, review of the soundtrack for the film The General (Ita Devine).

Sunday Independent (Sunday Life), 19/7/98:S1, ‘The wedding singers’, report of marriage of Richie Buckley, who did the music for the film The General (Ms. Keane).

Tribune Magazine, 26/7/98:21, report of publication of the screenplay of The General, with some examples of plan changes before the making of the film
(Ciaran Carty).

The Guardian, 20/11/98:4, video review.

Sunday Tribune (Magazine), 22/11/98:6, video review.

Irish Times (Sound and Vision), 4/12/98:13, ‘Reel News’, speculation that 'The General' may be in line for an Oscar (Michael Dwyer).

Sunday Tribune, 20/12/98:20, ‘General applause’, preview of possible awards for Irish films.

Sunday Tribune, 20/12/98:6, ‘As the year ends...’, National Board of Review's top ten films of the year, Irish actors and films mentioned.

Sunday Tribune, 27/12/98:6, ‘Groundhog Day, 1998’, Lists of best and worst films of the year (Ciaran Carty).

Irish Times (Sound and Vision), 22/1/99:13, ‘Reel News’, the film nominated for awards in Santa Monica and Chicago (Michael Dwyer).

Sunday Tribune, 24/1/99:6, “John Boorman's The General...’, mention of award nomination for The General (Ciaran Carty).

Irish Times (Weekend), 6/2/99:16, ‘Please Academy 71’, speculation on director John Boorman being nominated for his film (Michael Dwyer).

Irish Times, 11/2/99:15, ‘More like a general gouger’, analysis of different images portrayed of Martin Cahill, including the film The General (Jim Cusack).

Irish Times, 5/3/99:10, ‘Gleeson wins best actor award’, paragraph about actor Brendan Gleeson winning award for the film.

Sunday Tribune (Review), 23/5/99:6, video review.

Sunday Times, 6/6/99:11, ‘Film Renews Love Affair With Cahill’, following the success of the General, another film, Ordinary Decent Criminal looks set to portray Martin Cahill in a sympathetic light (Jan Battles).

Sunday Tribune (Review), 18/7/99:3, ‘Filling the Voight’, interview with actor Jon Voight (Ciaran Carty).

Sunday Times, 17/10/99:17, ‘Lunch Led to Film Career’, article on Julia Palau co-founder of the international film finance and distribution company J & M Entertainment. This company owns the rights to The General (Rupert Steiner).

Sunday Tribune (People and Review), 23/01/00:1, ‘A General Outlook...’, a comparison is made between the three screen versions of the life of Dublin criminal Martin Cahill known as 'The General'. The characterisations and fictionalised events are investigated (Catherine Cleary).

The Guardian (Friday Review), 09/06/00:3, ‘The Heist Life’, a short account of Ireland's underworld on screen (Andrew Pulver).

Sunday Tribune (Art Life), 25/02/01:6, DVD review (Ciaran Carty).

Sunday Business Post (Agenda), 04/03/01:40.

Sunday Independent (Living and Leisure), 04/03/01:29L, TV Preview (Sarah Caden).

The Observer, 18/03/01:31, ‘Murderers, not heroes’, article on the number of films and television series that glorify criminals (Henry McDonald).

Irish Times, 28/05/98:5, ‘The General comes to town’, report on the premiere
(Louise East).

Irish Times, 30/05/98:2, ‘General Kerfuffle’, social diary report on the premiere.
DistributorWarner Brothers Distributors (UK)
Production creditsp.c.: Merlin Films in Association with J&M Entertainment Productions, p/d: John Boorman, sc: Boorman, based on thebook by Paul Williams, dop: Seamus Deasy, ed: Ron Davis, p.d.: Derek Wallace, m: Richie Buckley, exec.p.: Kieran Corrigan, co-exec.p: P.J. Pettitte, Betsy Davis, Carol Moorhead, : Joe Homewood, loc.m.: Mick Walsh, assistant directors: Kevan Barker, Paul Barnes, Paddy McCarney, sc.super: Laerke Sigfred Petersen, casting d: Jina Jay, c.op.s: Seamus DEASY, Seamus Corcoran, Cedric Culleton (video), Stedicam op.s: Alf Tramontin, Roger Tooley, sp.effs.: Team FX, Paintings: Jill Andrea Reid, Draftsman: Jim Furlong, a. Drafting: Brendan Rankin, cost: Maeve Paterson, ward Mistress: Margaret Crosse, Head make-up artist: Maire O'Sullivan, Head hair: Orla Carroll, Titles/Optical/digital effects: General Screen Enterprises, musians: Richie Buckley (solo Saxophone), Van Morrison (Harmonica/Vocals), Mick Kinsella, Philip King (Harmonica), Dick Buckley (Baritone Saxphone), Wind Machine (Brass Section), Paul McAleer (Drums), Bernard Reilly (percussion), Brian Connor, Pat Fitzpatrick (Piano), Robbie Overson, Arty McGlynn (guitars), m.super: Brian Masterson, music p: Philip King, music co-ord.: Sarah Power, recording engnr: Brian Masterson, soundtrack: It Once Was MY Life', 'So Quiet in Here' by/performed by Van Morrison; 'Don't Fence Me In' by Cole Porter, performed by Brendan Gleeson. s: Brendan Deasy, s.mixs: Douglas e. Turner, John Fitzgerald, Sound re.rd.: Michell Cunliffe, Dubbing eds: Joe Gilmore, Paddy Gibbons, ADR s: Pat Hayes, Foley art.: Jenny Lee Wright, Pauline Griffiths, mixer: Edward Coyler, ed: Ted Mason, stunt cnslt: Dominic Hewitt, armourer: John McKenna, Helicopter Pilot: John O'Sullivan.
LocationDublin City
RightsMerlin Films
Tel: + 353 1 676 4373
Fax: + 353 1 676 4368
Sales Agent : J&M Entertainment Tel : 44-171-7236544 Fax : 44-171-7247541
Genre/CategoryGangster Film
Crime Film
KeywordsMartin Cahill
Dublin gangsters
Ulster Volunteer Force
Beit family
Working Class Communities

Contact: | Last updated: Aug 13 2019.