Review – Breaking Glass (1980)


I first saw this incredible movie way back in 1980, when it was originally screened at Burton Odeon. From the opening scene, where we meet Kate for the first time, walking through the carriages of an underground tube train, putting up stickers and posters, advertising her gig, i knew this was a film i was going to love. It was also this first sequence that featured a song from the soundtrack, Writing On The Wall, which Kate sings as she’s putting up her posters.

The movie stars Hazel O Connor as Kate, an aspiring musician and songwriter. She’s desperate to put a band together, and to get her punk/electro music heard. By accident she meets Danny Price, played by Phil Daniels, who wants to help Kate form a band, and manage it. He knows people in the music industry, but spends most of his time “promoting”, which is another way of saying he fixes the charts. He’s a lovable rogue who craves real success, and spots an opportunity to obtain it, by helping to get Kate’s, as yet unformed, band some “proper gigs”.

The early 80s was, most of the time, a dark, bleak, and fairly depressing time. The U.K in 1980, comprised of high unemployment, strikes and riots. Breaking Glass, really shoves that general attitude right in your face, to great effect. But in amongst the general feeling of hopelessness, are the hopes and dreams of Kate and Danny. Their ideas and aspirations differ greatly, but they work well together and become great friends. Things begin to fall apart around the middle section of the film, when they start to pull in opposite directions, both chasing their individual ideas of what success means.

This is a movie, that isn’t afraid to confront the harsh realities of what the music industry was really like, behind all the glitz and the glamour, and it wasn’t always a pretty picture. The story is full of unscrupulous people, out for what they want, with little or no regard for anyone except themselves. Kate, Danny and the band try desperately to avoid all this, but eventually things turn sour.

Breaking Glass was given test screenings in the U.S.A which got mixed reactions. They had no issues with the movie as such, but most felt the ending was far too downbeat. The answer ??? Cut the ending out completely, and that’s what they did. After singing Eighth Day, the biggest hit from the soundtrack, the credits rolled, depriving American audiences of the real ending. Strange that they had no issues with movies such as Taxi Driver and Midnight Express, which weren’t exactly a walk in the park, and contain scenes that still cause distress to this day, but they had major problems with this small budget British movie, which had a slightly upsetting final act. Go figure.

Personally i love everything about Breaking Glass. The story is excellent, if a little predictable, and it has a soundtrack to die for. It’s another film i have seen many, many times, and will happily watch many more. The only thing missing is a descent Bluray release, which it is literally crying out for. The only one available at the moment is a U.S import, which unfortunately contains that ludicrous, watered down ending, and in my humble opinion, isn’t worth the money. However, Breaking Glass is still a film worth watching, and you should do so, at your earliest opportunity. Just be sure to track down the Strike Force Entertainment Uncut British Version, and you’ll get this wonderful slice of 80s Britain, in all it’s dark, uncensored glory….


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I am passionate about movies and cinema generally. I love talking about them and writing about them.

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2 Responses

  1. Julie Croft says:

    What a brilliant film it was loved it knew i would from the first 5 minutes into it Hazle O’connor brilliant singer.

    • retromovie says:

      I felt the same way Ju. The minute you hear the first track on the soundtrack i knew it was going to be something very special. Hazel O Connor was brilliant and making Phil Daniels her manager was a masterstroke. They played off each other brilliantly.

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