The Long Good Friday


The Long Good Friday

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Total Count: 28


Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,441
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Movie Info

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.

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Critic Reviews for The Long Good Friday

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (9)

Audience Reviews for The Long Good Friday

  • Nov 20, 2016
    I'm not gonna pretend I've got a full handle on the events that just unfolded in The Long Good Friday, but I do know that I enjoyed them.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2016
    Usually when critics write of the great gangster pictures ever made, of course films by Martin Scorsese are mentioned as are "The Godfather" Trilogy and many old Hollywood pictures made by Warner Bros. Pictures in the 1930's to early 1940's. Very rarely is the 1980 John Mackenzie film "The Long Good Friday" ever mentioned. Perhaps, if it wasn't for this film Guy Ritchie never would've been inspired to make "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" which would feature many actors from "The Long Good Friday." Many gangster films depict the rise and fall of a particular gangster in the course of many years, but this film portrays London racketeer Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) at the top of his game before it all unravels in a 24 hour period. It's not just a seminal British gangster picture but a full-blown mystery as well full of Cockney slang, political intrigue, social commentary and that posh British snubbery Americans love so much, or so Harold believes they do. It's the Easter holiday weekend and Harold has just returned home from a trip and although he runs the London underground and came up from a tough existence, he now spends his time on a yacht on the Thames River with his elegant wife Victoria (Helen Mirren). He is looking for financial help from the American mafia to help build an Olympic Stadium on the London Docklands for the 1988 Olympics. As he tries to woo his guests with pompous British arrogance and jingosim about a new chapter of London and their new role as the center of Europe as his closest associates are being murdered. His chauffeur is blown up by a car bomb outside of the church where he was waiting for Shand's mother and an undetonated bomb is found inside one of his casinos. Harold learns about this by phone and as he listens Hoskins's face tells us everything as the camera cuts to his hand subtly crushes his wine glass. But he can't deal with this at the moment when he is entertaining the Americans. As he gets into his car, that's when his number two man Jeff (Derek Thompson) informs him of the death of his close friend Colin (played by Martin Freeman who is most known by audiences for playing Belloq in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). He and his wife decide to take the Americans to their favorite pub and just seconds before pulling up to the pub, a bomb goes off. Suddenly, things just got more complicated for Harold. The Americans give him 24 hours to straighten everything out or they're taking their money and hopping on the next plane back home. Bob Hoskins is wonderful in his breakout role. He plays Harold with the calmness he believes is necessary to get business done, but also has that range of acting that allows him to erupt at any given moment in the film. Often times cinematographer Phil Meheux follows Harold with a handheld camera as he paces back and forth trying to calm himself so he doesn't explode as he starts to breath heavily and drink more. Harold is a completely evil character who treats most characters in the film like dirt, especially when he visits certain lowlife gangsters who deal drugs, something Harold believes is beneath him. Through much of the film, you can't help but feel sympathetic to him because of everything that is happening to him. At times you feel what Harold feels and you may think to yourself, "Why today?" and as Harold slowly learns what is happening so does the audience. The slow buildup makes this story great, but it's the relationship between Harold and Victoria that seals this as one of the greatest British films of all-time. Helen Mirren portrays Victoria with such elegant sophistication that adds such depth to Hoskins's character. Without Victoria what would Harold be? Victoria is smart, sexy, and like Harold, she is just as shrewd and tact a bussinessman. She claims to have played lacrosse with Princess Anne adding to her background of privilege in contrast to Harold's. Why is a woman of this sophistication and her background attracted to Harold? It's power. She isn't your stereotypical mob moll who is nothing but a prop in the film and portrayed as weak and out of Harold's day-to-day dealings. She is a strong woman and she always remembers to carry herself when around people. When Harold goes off on one of his rages and even he doesn't know what he's going to do, Victoria is able to calm him down and make him think about what he's doing. The script was written by Barrie Keeffe but modified not only by director Mackenzie but by Helen Mirren who loved the script but didn't like the character she was offered. In the original script, Victoria was basically just what any gangster's wife was. She addressed those concerns and when she was told that changes would be made she signed on to do the picture. When filming was scheduled to begin she realized that much of her role wasn't changed. Mackenzie had her improvise a lot of her lines and build the character as the story progressed. Many of the greatest, tender moments between Harold and Victoria were improvised by the actors themselves. Mirren worked off Hoskins who worked off her and it's fantastic. One scene in the script called for a love scene between the two as all this chaos was going on, but Mirren didn't like the idea and she convinced Mackenzie it needed changed. The scene turned into a fight between Harold and Victoria that ultimately led to both characters breaking down out of fear of what was going on. As Harold comforts a crying Victoria, you sense the vulnerability Harold is willing to show to his wife but no one else and the same can be said about Victoria in Harold's presence. One of the most amazing scenes was actually suggested by Hoskins when all the other London gangsters were brought into a abattoir on meat hooks. Meheux even hung himself upside down on a meat hook holding a camera as he is pushed through the abattoir on the track getting a point of view of the gangsters as Harold and his men confront them. Other times Meheux does some fantastic camera movement shooting scenes in continuous takes that were improvised not distracting us from the action and raw emotion of Hoskins. The film's score works for this picture. It's a tense, rousing, sexy jazz-rock number composed by Francis Monkman who was a founding member of the British progressive rock band Curved Air. This is a film that works in every level and despite being released 36 years ago, it holds up very well. It's a very brutal film that contrasts capitalism and political terrorism and set the tone for the Margaret Thatcher Era in the United Kingdom. One of the things Harold just can't seem to understand that maybe many British people couldn't understand in the late 1970's and early 1980's, is that you can't reason with terrorism. Money can't solve all your problems and what good is money to political fanatics?
    Joseph B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2013
    The finer details of the plot don't seem to be anything special, until you realize the whole thing is about the illusion of control. Even if that doesn't interest you, I would say that seeing this movie purely for Hoskins' performance would certainly be worth your time.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 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.
    Luke B Super Reviewer

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