Friday, 4 February 2011

The Brylcreem Boys - Review

The blurb

When two enemy pilots shoot each other down over Ireland they are both captured as prisoners of war. During World War II Neutral Ireland interned all soldiers, sailors and airmen, regardless of their nationality, captured on Irish soil. What they failed to mention was that they would put them all in the same camp...

Our pilots (Bill Campbell) and Rudi (Angus MacFayden) are astonished to come face to face with each other at the entrance of the interment camp. Further surprises are in store as they discover that Commandant O'Brien (Gabriel Byrne) allows the prisoners out on day passes. They can enjoy a drink in the pub or a day out to the races as long as they give their word they won't escape.

Tensions are already rife in this extraordinary camp but when a stunning girl catches the eye of both men nothing contain their mutual distrust and hatred; but Mattie (Jean Butler) has a profound effect on these arch rivals and forces them to confront their perceptions of what an enemy really is.

Based on real-life events and situations, The Brylcreem Boys brings an unusual chapter in Irish history into the present with a highly enjoyable mix of romance, humour and adventure.


I cannot say how much this film surprised me. I watched it sans The Beard, as I thought it was going to be a bit of a lame, chic-esque flick. I could not have been more wrong.

Starring Gabriel Byrne, Billy Campell, Angus Macfadyen and introducing Jean Buder, I was hooked from beginning to end. It even made me laugh out loud, which I was not expecting.

It is a bit of history from the era that I didn't know about, which indicates I need to read more books. I had no idea about Curragh Camp which was used to hold any Ally and Enemy servicemen who landed on the coast or in the fields of Ireland during WWII. In fact I had no idea that Ireland was neutral. Call myself a history-geek? Flake more like.

Anyway -  I am straying from the review.

I loved how the relationship between the British and the Germans was portrayed and how it develops and changes between the protagonists. I was not too keen on the leading lady, Mattie, but this might have been more to do with the actress than the character. Hair of flame she may have had, but the acting has no spirit. However, she more than made up for it with her outstanding solo dance.

Set in 1941 (which I surmised from the wireless announcement about the bombing of Pearl Harbour -  unless the date was mentioned at the beginning and I blinked) it is a little golden nugget of a film. There is a fantastic scene with some traditional Irish dancing which left my mouth hanging open. I do like a bit of fiddely-dee jigging about in my movies. And anything that has Al Bowlley music as the staple soundtrack can't be at all bad in my book.

Oh, and the story, based on true events and with a documentary included in the DVD, is a stunner.

I give it a nearly-a-10-but-not-quite - 9!  


  1. I didn’t care much for Matti either! Liked Rudi and couldn’t stand Bill! He got on my nerves and didn’t look right in RAF Uniform- too much muscle! I remember saying his acting was poor and too American like..... Until I found out he was a Canadian oops (I think?) so that accounted for the accent! Good Story, some nice costumes- liked the ending too!

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I'd love to hear what you think so feel free to comment away!


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