Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Very extremely dangerous Jerry McGill

A year since its debut at last year's IFI Stranger Than Fiction Documentary Film Festival, Paul Duane returns with his feature film, Very Extremely Dangerous, a tragic story of Jerry McGill, an aging rocker and the last American outlaw. So why make a film about him? Director Paul Duane explains.  


Jerry McGill is too obscure to even be called a cult figure.

Only those who've read Robert Gordon's seminal It Came From Memphis or seen William Eggleston's dark, outrageous 'home movie' Stranded in Canton would have the vaguest idea who he is, or those rockabilly completists who own a copy of Sun 326, Lovestruck, recorded by Jerry and his band The Topcoats in 1959, his first and only official release. It's not even a particularly good record (the B-side is better).

So why make a film about him when there are so many other, probably more deserving musicians out there?


Well, back in mid-2009 I was facing a blank wall – my first cut of Barbaric Genius, my film on John Healy, had been rejected, all further funding placed in question & it looked as if it would never be completed.

So when I got an email from Jerry's fiancée Joyce telling me that he'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, had booked a recording session in Memphis next week, and wanted myself and Robert Gordon to meet him there, I grabbed an idea out of thin air.


The story of a man who blew all his chances the first time round, who turned his back on a promising music career in favour of a criminal life,  trying to redeem himself while staring death in the eyes. I knew Jerry was charismatic and a great storyteller from my phone conversations with him, but could he carry a film? Who knew?

Out of nothing more than that idea, and Jerry's insistence that he wasn't going to go quietly into the night, that he was finally going to follow up his one and only record, myself and Robert Gordon dragged this film, kicking and screaming and fighting us every inch of the way, into existence. Was it worth it? You tell me.

Paul Duane
Film Director

Very Extremely Dangerous opens on Friday, October 18th, 2013, exclusively at the IFI. There will be a post-screening Q&A with director Paul Duane following the 20.30 screening of the film. BOOK NOW!

2 comments:

  1. I love Paul and Robert,Jerry did too .Haven’t seen the documentary,not sure I want too Jerry did some crazy things ,he never denied that .He had no regrets ,if he had to do it all over again he wouldn't have changed a thing. .Those are his words ,these are mine–Deep down where it’s counts –Jerry wanted the same thing we all want–a roof over our head,food in our belly and someone to love.. .He found all that and more in the end-.he loved his 2 boys ,his sister ,and me, was happy and at peace with himself and his life.. Good story with a Happy Ending,I know cause I lived it..

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  2. Paul Duane’s documentary takes us deep into the shambolic world of Jerry McGill, an aging rocker and one-time minor film star who spurned a rock’n’roll career for a life of crime, robbing banks and running from the FBI.

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