Where the Kray Twins gangster film “Legend” got it all so very badly wrong

Yesterday’s blog was about comedy twins. Today’s is about gangster twins. So that, of course, means the Kray brothers. well, two thirds of them.

Micky Fawcett in the ring at Repton Boys’ Clu ethal Gree

Micky Fawcett in the ring at Repton Boxing Club

There have been three movies about the Kray Twins.

The Krays in 1990.

The Rise of the Krays which went straight to DVD in 2015.

And Legend in 2015.

Micky Fawcett has seen all three films, worked with the Krays and has written arguably the most factually accurate version of their story: Krayzy Days.

A movie based on his book is in the early stages of development.

“It’s not a Krays film,” Micky told me at the May Fair Hotel on Friday. “(The writer/director) has done an outline and we’re on the same wavelength and that’s very important. He’s read Krayzy Days and different things have caught his eye such as, while the court case was going on, I was arrested in Brussels.

“So he’s going to do your whole story?” I asked. “Including Jack Spot and the Unione Corse and everything?”

“Yeah. That’s what got his attention. He’s more interested in all that than in the Krays. They’ve been done to death. Those Kray films, I think they’re dreadful.”

“I couldn’t,” I told him, “get my brain round Legend at all because it’s basically about the supposed romance between Reggie Kray and Frances (his girlfriend and then his wife).”

“In the first Krays film,” said Micky, “they had to go that bit further and make Frances into a complete imbecile. In reality, she was quite enjoying it up to a point, but you wouldn’t want Reggie round you all the time. You wouldn’t want anybody really neurotic around you, would you? She stuck with it for a long time, but there were a couple of incidents which sort of disqualify her from being a complete little mouse. There’s the one that’s in my book and which you blogged about when Reggie approached me and said: Mick, I was sitting outside Frances’ tonight and she came along in another car.

Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray and Frances

Young Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray and Frances

“And the other time was when she and Reggie had been on holiday and had more-or-less come straight to The Hideaway, the club, and she told me: Do you know, he hasn’t laid a finger on me all the time we’ve been away. She said it straight out. And Reggie said to me…”

“Reggie,” I asked,” was actually there when she said that to you?”

“Yeah. Me and another guy; a pal of mine. She said it to us right in front of him. And Reggie said: Oh, thank god it’s only you two she’s said it to! What he was worried about was that Ronnie would get to hear about it and start making really… Cos that’s exactly what Ronnie would have liked…”

“Because?”

“Because Ronnie didn’t like women. He hated women. He really hated women, apart from his mum. He used to say: Mick, Mick, Mick, what do you see in them? They’re horrible, smelly, rotten, stinking things. He was always trying to make other people gay. Wouldn’t you like to try it with… I can get you a nice boy…

“A feller called Ron Stafford – I think he’ll be dead by now – he said to him: Ronnie, I just don’t have the glands to appreciate it. He was an educated feller.”

“It was the sex thing,” I said, “that threw me in Legend. The Reggie and Frances relationship.”

“And the Twins never raised their voices,” said Micky. “They shout in the film. I never heard Reggie shout at all. Not ever. Ronnie might shout in a low voice at Reggie. He wouldn’t shout at someone else he was angry with. He wouldn’t alarm you so you could run or defend yourself. He would just attack.

Micky Fawcett (left) with Ronnie Kray

Micky Fawcett (left) with Ronnie Kray way back in the 1960s

“In the film, Ronnie shouts at people and then he comes back with a claw hammer and then spends a quarter of an hour bashing ‘em on the head. That’s mad. One whack with a lead pipe and you’re gone.”

“In both films,” I said, “The Krays and Legend – the Twins fight each other – in the boxing ring in The Krays and in the club in Legend. That’s not true, is it?”

“They often came to blows,” said Micky. “Not for long, but they would really belt each other – really punch into each other. I dunno who used to start it, really. It just happened.”

“There’s a scene in the first film, The Krays,” I said, “where they get in the back of a van and they have sub-machine guns. They didn’t have those sort of things, did they?”

“Nah. They didn’t have a big mob around them either. They never had a big gang round them.”

“It was like something out of Chicago,” I said.

“It wasn’t like that at all,” laughed Micky. “That was for America or… I dunno. Or for anyone daft enough to…”

“And swords,” I said, “crop up in both The Krays and in Legend. The Twins didn’t use swords, did that?”

“No,” said Micky. “But, once someone mentions anything once, it becomes a fact.

David Litvinoff was a gay guy who worked for the William Hickey column on the old Daily Express – in 1961. He spoke very well; he was an educated man. (He was ‘dialogue coach and technical adviser’ on the gangster sections of the 1968 movie Performance.) But he was originally a Jewish EastEnder.

“When Johnny Davies and I had the trouble at the Hammer Club – somebody got shot in the bollocks – it’s in the book – I went up to Esmeralda’s Barn and took Johnny Davies with me and asked Ronnie Kray: Can you give us some help?

Ronnie Kray (right) with Bobby Buckley

Ronnie Kray (right) with tug-of-love boyfriend Bobby Buckley

“He said: We’ve just taken a flat off a feller in lieu of a debt. He said: Here’s the keys. It was 7 Ashburn Place in Kensington and the feller was David Litvinoff. He had previously been having an affair with a young feller called Bobby Buckley, who Ronnie was madly in love with.

“So we moved in the flat and Litvinoff and Ronnie were rivals for this boy. Litvinoff was very naive about it all. I was sitting around with him and Ronnie one day and Litvinoff said: Mick, we’ve gotta get a good nickname for Ronnie, here. I think we should call him Hook Nose cos he’s got a big hook nose. 

“A lot later, I saw Litvinoff in Oxford Street, right outside Oxford Circus station, and this is where the sword business comes from – this is where it all comes from. The feller with me saw Litvinoff and said to me: Oh, he looks like a cat.

“Because Ronnie told me he’d got a feller – he told me the feller’s name – to walk up to Litvinoff in the street and slash his mouth horizontally – right into both cheeks.”

“A Glasgow smile,” I said.

“The Twins had just got their 30 years,” said Micky, “and Litvinoff told me: You know, I’m not sure if I’m pleased they’ve gone away or not.

Reg Kray (right) & Charlie Kray (left) at their brother Ronnie’s funeral; Steve Wraith is behind.

Ronnie’s funeral: Charlie Kray (left) with Reggie (bottom right)

“Charlie doesn’t appear in Legend at all,” I said. “Maybe they thought it would be too complicated for American audiences to have twins and a third brother.”

“The Twins didn’t like the first film,” Micky told me. “They hated Charlie for it all the rest of his life.”

“He was involved in The Krays?” I asked.

“He was the technical advisor,” said Micky. “He got £250,000 for it. But Charlie would have been: Do it, then. I’ll be in the bar. Who’s that girl over there?

“Have you seen The Wee Man?” I asked. (It was directed by Ray Burdis, who produced The Krays.)

“Yeah,” said Micky. “I thought it was a good film. Did you?”

“I thought it was a very good film, but it has very little to do with the facts of what actually happened. Arthur Thompson, for some extraordinary reason, is played with an Irish accent. And it’s very biased and you can see why. It’s Paul Ferris creating his own legend.”

Krayzy Days – remembered as they were

Krayzy Days – remembered as they were

“The thing is,” said Micky, “they could have made a similar film about the Krays. If they had said: It is loosely based on… I wouldn’t argue about any of it; I’d probably have enjoyed it. But it is supposed to be factual. The critics seem to think Tom Hardy did a good job with Reggie. They see him swaggering about. But Reggie was a little feller. He wasn’t a big feller.”

“And he didn’t swagger?” I asked.

“Not like Tom Hardy does, no. I’m not in love with Tom Hardy in it at all. Not at all.”

“I’ve not seen The Rise of the Krays.” I told Micky.

“Don’t bother,” he told me.

There is a trailer for The Wee Man on YouTube.

3 Comments

Filed under Crime, Movies

3 responses to “Where the Kray Twins gangster film “Legend” got it all so very badly wrong

  1. Owen Morgan

    Charlie Kray (who survived Ronnie but predeceased Reggie) once said on the news that the Twins DID sometimes use firearms in extreme circumstances- maybe not machine-guns, but shotguns on occasion. But Mickey Fawcett is probably more impartial, if Charlie had a vested interest in being technical advisor to the 1990 film that starred the two brothers from Spandau Ballet as the notorious duo.

  2. mike larry

    This article reads like someone wrote it who doesn’t speak English. Sentences aren’t finished, topic jumps around so bad you can’t follow along. I read it 3 times and I still can’t tell you what it says. And where does it tell u what was wrong about the movie, and why not say what really happened with what was wrong?

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