In the Name of the Father is a 1993 Irish-British-American biographical courtroom drama film co-written and directed by Jim Sheridan. It is based on the true life story of the Guildford Four, four people falsely convicted of the 1974 IRA's Guildford pub bombings, which killed four off-duty British soldiers and a civilian. The screenplay was adapted by Terry George and Jim Sheridan from the autobiography Proved Innocent: The Story of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four by Gerry Conlon.
The film was positively received by critics, and received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Pete Postlethwaite), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Emma Thompson), Best Director, and Best Picture.
Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) is shown in Belfast stripping lead from roofs of houses when security forces home in on the district with armoured cars, and a riot breaks out. Gerry's father, Giuseppe Conlon (Pete Postlethwaite), later saves him from IRA punishment, and he is sent off to London to stay with his aunt, for his own good. Instead, he finds a squat, to explore, as he puts it, "free love and dope." One evening by chance he gains entry to a prostitute's flat and he steals the £700 he finds there and chats briefly with a man sitting in a park; on that evening in Guildford there is an explosion at a pub that kills four off-duty soldiers and a civilian, and wounds sixty-five others. While Gerry has returned to Belfast to show off his stolen money, one of the squat residents talks to the authorities and the Conlon home is raided by the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary, who arrest Gerry and immediately place him on a military flight to the UK mainland. Gerry and his friend, Paul Hill (John Lynch) are interrogated by police who torture and threaten them until both finally agree to sign a confession after being held for up to seven days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. When Gerry's father travels from Belfast to England to help his son, he is arrested at the aunt's home. In the subsequent trial, his aunt's family (known as the Maguire Seven, including Conlon's father) are convicted of supporting the bombing on the basis of nitroglycerin traces, and the four, including Gerry, are sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
Gerry's time in prison shows a progression from a bitter son who rails at his father to an awakening when he discovers the real perpetrator of the bombing in the same facility. When this man leads a prison protest and then sets a hated prison guard on fire, Gerry is the one who saves the man with a blanket. Gerry takes over the fight for justice himself when his father dies in custody. His case becomes public, gaining support from Dublin, Belfast and London. A common slogan used by his supporters is "Free The Four."
Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson), a campaigning lawyer who has been investigating the case on behalf of Giuseppe, has a breakthrough when she tries to access Giuseppe's file and is able to look instead at Gerry's. She finds vital police documents in the file that are marked "Not to be shown to the Defence". During the course of their appeal, the production of these documents leads to a triumphant scene in court when Peirce produces the evidence that the police have been lying throughout about the existence of a witness who had provided Conlon with an alibi during their initial investigation. This leads to the overturning of the verdict and immediate release of the Guildford Four.
The film ends with a triumphant Gerry revealing his story to the media and proclaiming his father's innocence. Title cards reveal the current activities of the Four, the exoneration of the Maguire Seven, that the police were acquitted of any wrongdoing, and that the real perpetrators of the Guildford Bombing have not been charged with the crime.
- Daniel Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon
- Pete Postlethwaite as Patrick "Giuseppe" Conlon
- John Lynch as Paul Hill
- Mark Sheppard as Paddy Armstrong
- Beatie Edney as Carole Richardson
- Emma Thompson as Gareth Peirce
- Anthony Brophy as Danny
- Frankie McCafferty as Tommo
- Maureen McBride as Mother
- Don Baker as Joe McAndrew
- Corin Redgrave as Inspector Robert Dixon
- Gerard McSorley as Detective Pavis
- Frank Harper as Ronnie Smalls
- Jamie Harris as Deptford Jim
- Tom Wilkinson as Grant Richardson
- Kelly McKeavney as Young Girl in Riot Scene
Model, now actress, Saffron Burrows made her feature film debut in the film, as Gerry Conlon's free love-interest at a commune/squat in London at the time of the bombings.