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Steven Berkoff film 1980s-1


 

 

Berkoff entered mainstream films with major roles on blockbusters Beverly Hills Cop, Octopussy and Rambo.  It could have been the start of a profitable career for Berkoff.
 

Absolute Beginners Absolute Beginners

Berkoff as guest star along with rock singers including Bowie. The dancing and song have an interesting undercurrent portraying the racism and fascism of the time. Berkoff is convincing as the fascist leader stirring up hatred in a Mosley style rally.  Berkoff´s fascist speeches are in rhyming verse- written by Berkoff himself?   Directed by Julien Temple in 1986.

Steven Berkoff in Absolute Beginners

 

 

Beverly Hills Cop

Beverly Hills Cop from 1984- black actors can star but not kiss the girl. Directed by Martin Brest in 1984.  Eddie Murphy playing Axel Foley at his best.

Berkoff says, talking of strangers he meets when travelling "Loved your work in Beverly Hills Cop...here we go again; the film that will haunt me for the rest of my life".  Stallone was to star but pulled out. He was impressed by Berkoff and his role as gangster Victor Maitland so wanted him on Rambo.

Casting Director Margery Simkin says she was on a plane and the movie shown was a Bond film [Octopussy] and she thought Berkoff was the iconic person she needed for the film.  Director Martin Brest says he saw a photo of Berkoff and liked the "laser quality of his look".

Berkoff is impressive, the perfect mixture of the businessman/ mafia boss with superficial pleasantry, but generally disdain for others.  This works extremely well against the innocent/ street wise Murphy.  The two together have real chemistry and tension. 

Steven Berkoff in Beverly Hills Cop 

Murphy plays a Detroit cop and when a friend is murdered Berkoff's Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills seems implicated.  When Murphy arrives the rough informal ways of Detroit police are contrasted with the do-it-by-the-book policing in Beverly Hills.

Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop

Steven Berkoff as Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop

Steven Berkoff - Beverly Hills Cop

All photos from the DVD of the film.  Quotes from director and casting director, and notes on Sylvester Stallone from DVD extras.

 

 

McVicar McVicar

Roger Daltry plays the true-life criminal McVicar. What is interesting about the real story of McVicar is how a vicious criminal ended up reformed and writing for the New Statesman magazine. The film ignores this and covers his glamorised life as a criminal in prison. Berkoff is the East End prisoner, and in the predictable prison riot scene he sings "Maybe its because I'm a Londoner".  Directed by Tom Clegg in 1980.

Berkoff and Daltry

 

 

Octopussy Octopussy

A James Bond film, with Berkoff playing Colonel Orlov, his usual villain piece. Moore and Berkoff had worked twice earlier on The Saint.  Directed by John Glen in 1983.  Berkoff is good, Moore gives his usual vacant performance.

Octopussy with Berkoff

Site vistor P. Orrebrand comments: ."I just wanted to point out that Mr Befkoff's role in Octopussy is referred to as "Colonel Orlov".  However, he is referred to as "General Orlov" in the actual motion picture, and also carries the the two stars of a Soviet/Russian Lieutenant General on his uniform.  (In the old Eastern European/Communist armed forces, Brigadiers did not exist, so one star was/is a Major General and two stars a Lieutenant General.) Perhaps not a matter of life-and-death, but important to us fans and military buffs. :o)"- Thanks!!! Iain.

 

Outland Outland

A minor role in a Sean Connery film. Berkoff plays a coward with space sickness who turns homicidal.  Berkoff injects himself then becomes homicidal, attacking a woman and ending up killed by the rescue squad.  But why did he and others go mad?  Sean Connery has to find out why.  The role proves either that some parts are so bad that they cannot be made good, or that good actors have bad days.  Directed by Peter Hyams in 1981.

Outland Steven Berkoff   Outland Steven Berkoff

 

 

 

Berkoff Prisoner in Rio

Prisoner in Rio, another British gangster film alongside the Krays, McVicar and Charlie. This is about the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, who co-wrote the screenplay and has a role as Mickey (on the left). 

Prisoner of Rio Ronnie Biggs

Biggs was convicted and jailed for the robbery, but escaped and ended up in Rio where he can't be extradited.  Berkoff is sent to arrange for him to be kidnapped and taken to a British warship where he could be sent back to Britain.

Prisoner in Rio Steven Berkoff

Prisoner in Rio Steven Berkoff

Prisoner in Rio Steven Berkoff

Berkoff plays a dour Scots policeman Jack McFarland with an annoying fake Scots accent, though this gradually fades away. Directed by Lech Majewski in 1988. It is Berkoff's only starring role in a mainstream cinema film.

The film is dull and inept, plodding along with poor script and direction.  The photography by cinematographer George Mooradian is at times interesting- it was his first role as cinematographer.

Berkoff wrote a book about the filming "my main accusation against the film was the crime of humiliation, both committed by me and against me". 

In 2009 Berkoff wrote to The Sunday Times supporting the release from jail of Biggs.

Prisoner in Rio Berkoff

 

 

 Images from the DVD of rhe film.

 

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