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The Black Panther is a 1977 British crime film. Its subject is the criminal Donald Neilson, known as the "Black Panther". It was directed and produced by Ian Merrick, his first feature,[1] and stars Donald Sumpter, Debbie Farrington and Marjorie Yates.[2][3] It was seen as exploitative, as the film was released in a short time after the occurrence of the events depicted i.e. the crimes of serial killer Dennis Neilsen.

The Black Panther
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIan Merrick
Produced byIan Merrick
Written byMichael Armstrong
StarringDonald Sumpter
Debbie Farrington
Marjorie Yates
Music byRichard Arnell
CinematographyJoseph Mangine
Edited byTeddy Darvas
Impics Productions
Distributed byAlpha Films
Release date
  • December 26, 1977 (1977-12-26)
Running time
102 minutes

The film featured the kidnap of a young girl, Lesley Whittle. It was controversial on its release and was slandered by media figures such as Sue Lawley of Tonight. Subsequently, the film was effectively banned from viewing.[4] In 2012, the film was remastered and resurrected into the British Film Institute Archives and Hall of Fame, as an important British film to rave reviews. John Patterson of The Guardian commented that The Black Panther "emerges as a meticulous, tactful, well made and highly responsible true crime movie".[4] The film was released on DVD in 2012.



A gung-ho ex-military man pursues a secret life of crime, culminating in the kidnapping of a teenage heiress.



  1. ^ "The Black Panther(1977)". Yahoo movies. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  2. ^ The Black Panther (1996 [1977]), BFI Film & TV database
  3. ^ Chibnall & Petley p.225
  4. ^ a b John Patterson "Why The Black Panther can hold its head up high", The Guardian (blog), 6 June 2012


  • Chibnall, Steve & Petley, Julian. British Horror Cinema. Routledge, 2002.

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