The Long Good Friday
(R, 1:54:14, Released 1982)
|Genres:||Mystery & Suspense, Drama|
|Release Date:||Apr 2, 1982|
|DVD Release Date:||Dec 1, 1998|
|Starring:||Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Eddie Constantine, Dave King, Brian Hall, Stephen Davies, Pierce Brosnan, Derek Thompson, Bryan Marshall, P.H. Moriarty|
|Directed by:||John Mackenzie|
|Synopsis:||John Mackenzie's masterfully directed British crime drama features a star-making performance by Bob Hoskins as Harold Shand, a successful London gangster whose world falls apart over the course of one weekend. Shand controls the London docks and is planning a big real estate deal, financed by money from the American mob and given the okay by the London organization. His world is sweet -- he lives in a fancy penthouse, he owns a yacht, and has a sensitive and intelligent mistress. But suddenly a bomb explodes inside his Rolls Royce, another bomb destroys a pub he owns, and a third is found inside his casino. Shand can't understand who would suddenly want him dead, particularly over the Easter weekend, when representatives from the American mafia are coming into town to discuss investing in Shands's real estate project. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi|
|Full movie details|
|All of Flixster:||(2888)|
My Friends' Reviews
Other Top Reviews
August 21, 2012
The Long Good Friday is Hoskins' break out performance and it's no surprise as to why. He inhabits the role of Harold Shand with such passion that we are completely swept along with him. Harold Shand is a gangster and businessman. As he approaches making a lucrative deal with some Americans, a number of his crew are taken out via stabbings and bombs. He and his gang must find the culprits before the Americans are scared off. It's a race against time but with no real heroes. We feel for the character of Shand but at no point are asked to excuse or support him. The score is beautiful, in an old electronic kind of way, it does set the scene and builds up exciting moments. The sound design is also often exaggerated but in a way that it brings added and important emphasis to certain scenes. Director Mackenzie also likes to get experimental at times, but only when it really serves the plot, such as the upside down meat truck scene. It's a great film that warns against greed and corruption, but is also littered with memorable dialogue.
May 9, 2012
Well deserving of its many accolades, Friday is one cheery holiday weekend with Brit crimelord Bob Hoskins (in a juggernaut performance worthy of all the gangster greats) as his world crumbles all around him. Helen Mirren lends able support (one of the best I've seen her in) and Pierce Brosnan also makes a brief appearance. Great writing showcases this 1981 thrill ride.
April 19, 2012
Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren and a kick-ass ending.
February 10, 2011
At the time of writing this, I've just been thoroughly impressed by a rare British TV screening of 'The Long Good Friday', a gripping, bleak and uncompromising study of a supposedly untouchable underworld kingpin whose organization collapses around his ears when a mystery adversary begins murdering his colleagues and blowing up his favourite haunts. Bob Hoskins is just incredible in this film. His performance sears the screen with its burning intensity. His character is undoubtedly a vile individual, but Hoskins employs so much depth and subtlety in his portrayal we actually find ourselves caring for him. The much-remarked-on final sequence is an absolute tour-de-force that takes your breath away. Doubtful whether any current director (let alone any current actor) would have the guts to even attempt something like that. Hoskins makes it all look so easy, the mark of a true professional. Be warned, however, that this is not a film for the faint-hearted, and the squeamish will most certainly wince more than once. The direction, editing, photography, soundtrack and acting are all top-notch, displaying a rare degree of outright quality that the British film industry rarely seems able to muster, for one reason or another. There's also some degree of fun to be had from spotting the familiar faces in the supporting cast - 'Charlie Fairhead' from Casualty, 'Denzil' from Only Fools and Horses, 'Terry' from Fawlty Towers, a couple of the sadistic warders from Alan Clarke's brutal borstal flick 'Scum' and a young Gillian Taylforth of Eastenders fame. I have one final comment to make regarding this movie. Guy Ritchie should be forced to watch this at least fifteen times in a row, in the vain hope that it teaches him something about the genre he idolizes but seems unable to make a decent job of depicting. Watch and learn, all you young 'mockney' pretenders, this film is the work of the masters.
April 12, 2010
The Long Good Friday is part of a fascinating breed of films which are simultaneously of their time and completely ahead of the curve. It is the near-perfect marriage of the crime thriller conventions of the 1970s, as pioneered by Get Carter and The French Connection, with an enticing political subtext about the 'Me Generation' and the government of Margaret Thatcher. It's hard to watch it thirty-one years on without it seeming prophetic in terms of the political and social change which swept through Britain in the 1980s. But neither has its lost any of the charm or shock value which made it such a hit the first time round.
The comparison with Get Carter is more than justified, since it is probably fair to say that without Mike Hodges' powerful film, The Long Good Friday would not exist. Both films are low-budget, gritty crime thrillers which are carried by the riveting performances of their respective leads, Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins. Both in lesser hands would have been nuts-and-bolts revenge movies, but they survive thanks to the quality of their scripts and the relevance of their substance.
What they also share, more unfortunately, is a slow and incoherent opening. The first 20 minutes introduce us to a whole host of characters in a very disparate fashion, something which is only partly accidental. Director John Mackenzie had always intended the initial scenes to be distracting, to make the world of Harold Shand appear more complex. He originally envisaged a very ambitious opening, with location shots following the briefcase of money over the Alps, but producer Barry Henson thought this detracted from the film's focus on London. All the threads are eventually tied up, but even in its existing form the opening is too long, to the point at which you consider giving up.
Things pick up permanently however, with the first sight of Shand, played by Bob Hoskins. The opening shot of him striding through Heathrow airport, backed by Francis Monkman's brilliant soundtrack, perfectly captures the confidence and arrogance of the man with the whole of London at his feet. This is a man who has kept the peace for ten years through influence and intimidation, even when his underlings were "out of order". It's a well-judged and ironic introduction, since this is the happiest we will ever see the character be.
The character of Harold Shand conveys the central theme of the film, namely the decline and fall of an empire through a potent mix of outside pressure and personal tragedy. As in Shakespeare's King Lear, we first see the kingdom (or 'corporation') in good health, with the deal with America standing in for Lear dividing his kingdom among his daughters. Shand is Lear-like in that he is so self-confident, so certain that he is right, that he is blind to where his real enemies lie; and much like Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now, everything makes sense only when it is too late.
Within this there are two separate subtexts. The more obvious of these is the threat of the IRA, in particular to the traditional structures of crime. The original title of Barry Keefe's screenplay was 'The Paddy Factor', and the film's eventual title refers not refers not just to the period of time which passes, but in a twisted way to the shadow the IRA casts -- 'the long Good Friday' could be a synonym for the Troubles or 'long war'. What The Long Good Friday does so well is to explore the nature of this organisation and show how its existence is a very real threat to the existing order. Many films about the Northern Irish conflict, like Michael Collins, have kept the war at arms' length from Britain, portraying the IRA as 'them lot over there'. Here they are not distant warriors but cunning infiltrators, an enemy which neither the police nor the criminal underworld can understand, let along contain.
The other, more unintentional undercurrent is about the resurgence of free-market capitalism and the legacy of Thatcher. Shand refers to his empire as 'the corporation' rather than any kind of 'gang', and the film draws an analogy between the dismantling of socialism and the violent takeover of London, both by Shand and the IRA. When Shand delivers his big speeches at either end of the film, they are conveyed with maximum irony; he exudes that very 1980s mix of endearing ambition and selective xenophobia, both of which are smashed in the final scene. Subsequent films like Wall Street and American Psycho have handled 1980s greed in more upfront ways, but both lack the sense of self-reflexive subtlety at the heart of this film.
Much like American Psycho, The Long Good Friday also has a very real sense of humour. The script is gritty and intense but has a succession of corking one-liners which consolidate the dark setting while humanising the characters. Most of these are Shand's lines, and Hoskins delivers them brilliantly in what is still his finest performance. While on the top deck of his yacht waiting for Charlie to arrive, he remarks that "the Yanks love snobbery. They feel they've really arrived in England if the upper classes treat 'em like shit." Later, finding out about the car bomb, he exclaims: "You can't go crucifying people outside a church, not on Good Friday!" -- a line which really captures the mood of the whole film.
She may not have as many killer lines as Hoskins, but Helen Mirren's performance as Victoria is every bit as captivating. Her character is the brains and dignity to Harold's muscle and rough, hands-on style. The power he possesses is a natural aphrodisiac, and yet she is not simply an air-headed bimbo who constantly requires his aid. At several key moments her intelligence saves his life, and yet she remains as vulnerable as anyone on screen.
The film is also visceral and incredibly violent at times. In the first half hour we have a car bomb and a man being stabbed in a shower by a very young Pearce Brosnan (his first film). Later we have a man being literally crucified and nailed to a floor, and Hoskins smashing in a young man's neck with a bottle. But despite these outbursts, The Long Good Friday is not a film which relies on the violence to do the hard work, either by making us enjoy it or using it to pad out the plot. Its best scenes are those which are dialogue-heavy, in which egos clash and the sparks come not from the guns but from the level of tension hardwired into the script.
The Long Good Friday is a near-perfect g
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