This gritty British movie follows the fortunes of a snooker hall hustler (Bob Geldof) in his quest for the Big Time and features a star-studded cast including Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Phil Daniels, Ian Dury, Mel Smith, Alison Steadman and P.H. Moriarty. 'Number One' is about a way of life on the mean streets of London. The film, like life itself, in this seedy world of petty criminals, corrupt coppers, Pool Hall hustlers, bent bookies and prostitutes is humorous, irreverent and often violent...
I enjoyed it - despite the dodgy acting, dodgy characters, dodgy story. Worth a watch.
- Number One review by RP
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You rated this film: 4
It's a low budget, gritty, made-for-TV film in which a remarkably young-looking Bob Geldof plays a dodgy young snooker hustler being exploited by his dodgy manager and aiming for the world snooker championship.
Before he became 'Saint' Bob, known for Band Aid/Live Aid and raising unrivalled amounts of money for Africa, Bob Geldof was the front man for the band the Boomtown Rats - and a wannabe actor. Here he plays a flash, 'Hurricane' Higgins-style snooker hall hustler called err, Harry 'Flash' Gordon. The name evokes both the space opera comic strip character and also the Harry Flashman character from the Flashman Papers series of books. But that's far too serious an analysis for this film...
Apart from Mr (not Sir, although he's now got a KBE) Geldof, the film stars the much-missed Mel Rees as local bookie, wide-boy and all round dodgy character as 'Flash' Harry's manager and the always excellent Alison Steadman as a local prostitute - and Harry's girlfriend, that is when he's not picking up schoolgirls. There is a part for P.H. Moriarty ('Hatchet Harry' from 'Lock, Stock...'), a small part for the late Ian Dury (better known as the front man for the Blockheads), small parts for Phil Daniels and Alun Armstrong and a walk-on part for Ray Winstone - blink and you'll miss it. So, lots of faces to look out for, even if many of the characters are mere stereotypes.
There's a bit of violence and more f-ing and blinding than I was expecting, but it all adds to the gritty background.
Geldof's acting is not the best (he probably wishes the film could be forgotten), his accent is almost unintelligible, but of its kind 'Number One' is quite entertaining. It was made for TV but apparently also had a cinema release. It shows the usual grimy London backgrounds but also has shots of the old Wembley Conference Centre, of Blackpool, and the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, famous for hosting top snooker tournaments. And the real-life Ted Lowe is seen as a commentator.
I enjoyed it. Yes, the acting is dodgy, the storyline is dodgy (local nobody rises to the top in a matter of days), the characters are dodgy and the quality of the transfer to DVD is dodgy. But it is humorous and while the characters are thinly drawn, the film is held together by the acting skills of Rees and Steadman.
I'll give it a very, very generous 4/5 stars.
[Aside: This is a film rarely seen nowadays - or even its day! - so many thanks to Cinema Paradiso for sourcing a copy]