1 – The ultraviolent scene when gangster Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) kills his best friend and major-domo Jeff (Derek Thompson) in a fit of rage by stabbing a broken wine bottle into his throat causing his aorta to rupture and spurt blood everywhere. It was also unusual not to see Thompson assume his later role of Charlie Fairhead and stem the bleeding and sew up the wound in a trice.
2 – The problems director John Mackenzie ran into when the film’s financiers watched it and were repelled by the ostensible sympathy towards the IRA who were portrayed as possessing sounder morals and a superior ideology to a capitalist Thatcherite gangster. The film was recut and Hoskins’ voice was redubbed “in a Wolverhampton accent” which outraged the actor so much he threatened to sue.
3 – After Hoskins threatened to sue, John Mackenzie recruited the help of esteemed thespians such as Alec Guinness to persuade the distributors to sell to a more understanding film company. That company was George Harrison’s Hand Made Films, but the former Beatle was a little shocked by his purchase complaining to Mackenzie: “If I’d seen this film, I’d have never have bought it; it’s all violence.”
4 – When John Mackenzie approached local landlords to use their pubs for filming, they were very accommodating – until they discovered the pub was to be blown up. The crew had to build their own mock pub, which strangely still attracted a number of boozers who didn’t believe it was a fake hostelry.
5 – John Mackenzie explaining how during the opening celebrated scene, in which Harold Shand delivers a stirring speech on the virtues of being British on a boat sailing down the Thames against a backdrop of Tower Bridge, the boat crashed into the famous landmark as they about-turned to film another take.