The Long Good Friday (1980) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
135 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A long, damn good film.
johnnyboyz20 September 2006
When thinking back over the decades of British gangtser films, The Long Good Friday stands out in memory. This is due to the way the story is executed and the way a certain degree of suspense is held throughout.

Everything starts off well in this film. We're shown a rather perplexing, confusing but well shot sequence involving several people and a couple of deaths over what seems to be a case of money. We hear nothing of these events until much later in the film, keeping it at the back of our minds and creating a certain shock element when we eventually realise everything that's come together.

After the dramatic introduction, everything is toned down slightly as Harold Shand (Hoskins), the man of the film, is introduced to a rather catchy theme tune. His world is also introduced to us through very good use of London iconography as we realise he's rich, got plenty of friends and also has a good looking girl; with his biggest problem seeming to be what nationality to make the chef for his next get-together. With so many faces being introduced and so much pleasurable interaction, the events that follow fuelled by great hate for Harold are rather shocking as they are surprising and that's what really kicks this film off on a good path.

What's also good about the film as well as fascinating is that it takes a certain detective route. So many crime and gangster films often use a revenge plot or a hierarchy technique whereas this one, the enemy is unknown and the hierarchy has already been climbed. He's on his own with two or three of his most trusted accomplices attempting to discover what the hell's going on and this is very interesting as we find out what they find out, and at the same time as they do creating a nice, steady, plodding feeling of consistency.

As the battles and discoveries occur whilst the film wears on, numerous desperate situations are dragged out in a gritty and entertaining way such as Harold's relationship with his girl that is starting to fall apart amongst the terror and confusion, the personal battle with the American businessmen who foil Harold on several occasions and the question marks that arise over loyalties within his own organisation, as well as disagreements with his crooked policeman colleague and rival gangs. Not only are these scenes and plot points gripping; amusing dialogue and good one-liners from Harold himself help move them along.

As the film reaches its final third and Harold gets closer to the truth, the film reminded me of the original 'Get Carter' when Jack realises who's behind it all. Our anti-hero gets more and more angry and each scene gets more and more intense, culminating in pure chaos at a race car track and a monologue of insults at the American's who, up to this point, have had Harold and his outfit rolling over for them.

With strong acting performances all round and an impressive, well paced plot; The Long Good Friday has managed to sneak into my personal favourites list and definitely withstands the test of time.
51 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Outstanding Brit flick that stays with you
pjwarren118 July 2005
The Long Good Friday was and still is a great piece of British Cinema. After watching the film after a good many years it still holds the power to shock, amuse and thrill.

Bob Hoskins pulled off a performance comparable to James Cagney's tour de force in 'White Heat' as the tough London gangster whose empire starts to tumble, as he's trying to seal a massive development deal with the aid of the US Mafia in London's Docklands.

Helen Mirren gives an impressive performance as Hoskin's love interest, who basically calls the shots in Hoskin's organisation almost as much as he does. Her cool, tough performance putting her in good stead for the 'Prime Suspect' mini series which followed in the early nineties in the UK, where she played Lynda Le Plante's tough female detective Jane Tennyson.

The usual seventies film actors who play crooks turn up in this film, as do some fine character actors, including Dave King who plays a bent copper on Hoskin's pay roll and Bryan Marshall as the crooked councillor. One of the most memorable of the support cast is Derek Thompson, who would later go on to play Charlie Fairhead in BBC's long running 'Casualty' drama, who takes the 'Introducing' credit.

Also, look out for the actor who played 'Denzel' in Only fools and Horses, and a mute role for Pierce Brosnan before he went to the States to play Remington Steele.

A fine film, thats quick in pace, and excellently directed by John McKenzie, who will probably be always most remembered for this film.
60 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Most powerful scene: ironic
ColinBaker13 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
From a British perspective, part of the fun of watching this is seeing people who later became famous for other roles. Derek Thompson had had a minor role in Yanks, and this suggested he had a bright career in films, but he ended up playing nurse Charlie Fairhead in Casualty, and has now played that part for 23 years! Gillian Taylforth became better known in EastEnders, and Paul Barber was in Only Fools and Horses, but returned to the big screen in the Full Monty.

Some of the violence in The Long Good Friday is very graphic; the scene in which Harold (Bob Hoskins) ends up glassing his sidekick Jeff (Derek Thompson) after the latter had betrayed him is VERY nasty.

Helen Mirren is now an international star. Here she is supposedly playing a gangster's moll, but where she doesn't simmer with sexuality ("I want to lick every inch of you", says Derek Thompson in an unguarded moment in a lift), she shows that she has as much control over Harold (Bob Hoskins) as he has over everybody else, never more so than in the immediate aftermath of the glassing scene. It is a tour de force in a supposedly supporting role.

But this film undoubtedly belongs to Bob Hoskins. Despite the violence, it is the film's climax which is the most memorable and chilling scene. Hoskins is held at gunpoint by a silent and menacing IRA gunman played by a young Pierce Brosnan. This takes place in a car driven by another IRA hit-man. The camera focuses in close up on the face of Bob Hoskins for over a minute, while the very catchy theme music plays, and while Hoskins, without a word of dialogue, goes through a whole raft of emotions, showing a man struggling to accept that he is finished, but is finally resigned to his fate. This is a magnificent performance.
11 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Top of the list
penguini-27 January 2007
"The Long Good Friday" was given a limited release in the U.S. but fortunately it opened in Los Angeles. Based on a very short synopsis in the L.A. Times, my wife made the 30-mile drive from Pasadena to Santa Monica and were rewarded with the best crime drama I've ever seen. This film is the perfect coming-together of writing, directing and acting to produce a cinematic gem. Nothing overblown and grandiose like "The Godfather" but a tight story that never bogs down, filled with real characters that stand out from the screen. We were introduced to Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren and both of them have since provided us with some great performances on both large and small screens. I would definitely take this one to the proverbial desert island.
36 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
darth_sidious21 November 2001
What can I say? 2 hours of class! This is a film which pretty much tells it how it is. The gangster world is not glamour, it's not a world we should dream about being in.

This film is gritty and realistic, it's one of the best pictures ever to be released from the U.K.

Bob Hoskins is in terrific form here, so damn perfect. Helen Mirren is stunning, great actress and rather eye-catching!!!

Pierce Brosnan is hardly in the picture, he was unknown at the time. There are a few faces which you'll recognise, most of them appeared in famous British Television dramas!

The film setting is gritty and shows the real London underworld in the early Thatcher years.

The direction is confident as is the script, and by the end you'll realise that they had guts! The film score is wonderful, it's always in my head.

This film is class!
38 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
awesome movie
clfuller16 July 2004
I love movies and this is one of my all time favorites. I think Bob Hoskins is one of the most underrated actors of all time. The movie is incredibly entertaining to watch and interestingly enough it marks the beginning of Pierce Brosnan's career (pool scene). The characters are fascinating especially Harold. It is also very interesting to observe him as his grip upon his gangster empire on brink of creating a partnership across the Atlantic slips through his fingers because of a mistake. In the final scene Bob Hoskins does an awe inspiring job of relaying all the emotion and anguish without saying a single word. Fantastic. I highly recommend that everyone see this movie.
45 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent gangster film
preppy-313 March 2004
A British ganglord (Bob Hoskins) finds his empire crumbling after 10 years of peace...and just as he's about to make a very lucarative deal with the U.S. Mafia. Bombs go off in his businesses, friends and members of the gang are brutally killed...who is doing it, and why?

Great British film...completely ignored here when it was released in 1980. The British accents ARE hard to follow at times but I was able to keep up with the plot. Also this film is not for everybody--there are some pretty frequent bursts of graphic violence--VERY graphic! I pride myself on being able to sit through a lot but these scenes even had me cringing! Still, it well worth catching--it has a very intricate script with good dialogue. And all the acting is great. Hoskins is just perfect in the lead--you see the confusion, pain, fear and anger in him as his world starts to crumble apart. Also Helen Mirren is excellent as his mistress. Calm, sexy, controlled and VERY intelligent--she's just great. And the final shot of the eyes is chilling. Great electronic music score too. And it's fun to see Pierce Brosnan so young (28) and sexy in an early role.

A really great gangster film which deserves to be rediscovered. My one complaint (and this is minor) is that it goes on a bit too long--it could have been tightened a little. Still, a great film. A must see for crime film fans.
37 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bob Hoskins makes this...
madmattuk21 May 2001
Very much in the tradition of the American gangster films of the 30s and 40s, this movie centres around a bravura performance by the central gangster (Edward G Robinson/James Cagney then; Bob Hoskins now). Bob Hoskins raves and fights against a world that is rapidly moving beyond his control and, although he is an unpleasant, violent and vicious character, you end up caring for him.

Interesting also as a historical snapshot of a period in London's history (the redevelopment of the Docklands) now gone.
33 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Modest British gangster pic with star performance
Pedro_H14 October 2002
A London gangster boss takes a short break abroad and returns to find someone has it in for him.

The film that took Bob Hoskins from minor British actor to Hollywood and the rest of the cast back to mainstream British television. Helen Mirren proves she is one of the few actresses that can play tough and sexy at the same time.

This modest budget film is quite clever. It wears the clothes of a gangster film but is actually a violent whodunit. The setting of London gives it novelty and like all British pictures it has an array of small parts played with gusto by local actors.

The film seems to borrow from real events (at one time the Mafia did want to bring gambling junkets over to London) but is mostly a work of fiction. Also curious is that it seems to give the impression that police corruption is rife which is not true of the late 70's. But this at least helps us understand Hoskins power.

This is not to be missed if you are a fan of gangster films and want a change of scenery. Hoskins performance alone is worth the price of admission and look out for Pierce Brosnan at the end in a non-speaking role.
34 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Darn Near Flawless
dougdoepke28 August 2011
Aces all around. Hoskins is a barrel-chested dynamo and effective successor to Cagney and Robinson. But where 30's gangsters wanted to take over the town, their 80's counterpart wants to go international like any other "corporation". Trouble is that going international requires as much political savvy as it does financial— something Harold (Hoskins) just doesn't understand.

That wordlessly disjointed opening sequence is somewhat off-putting. Yet, thanks to a masterfully constructed screenplay. the threads connect up in the end. Still, I was really blind-sided by the narrative's link to the puzzle as to who is sabotaging Harold's big plans and, just as importantly, why. At the same time, I also like the way the lovely Victoria (Mirren) is turned into more than just a silken mistress. She's really the power behind Harold's throne, as the sudden slapping sequence shows.

There are so many memorable scenes, starting with the slaughter-house. It's like nothing I've seen; at the same time, I hope the topsy-turvy actors got paid double. And what about that fancy power dinner that Victoria sweats to finesse. It's a subtle masterpiece of suppressed emotion that keeps threatening to disrupt the big plans. Then too, you can't help wondering what the little Napoleon is thinking during those wordless final minutes of run time. That too is like nothing I've seen and was someone's special inspiration. Iin my little book, the movie's staging, writing and acting are darn near flawless. And just as importantly, are never predictable.

And here I thought great gangster films were America's exclusive preserve. But Hoskins and the movie belong up there with the best of our own. I guess I have to re-calibrate.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a classic that invites re-viewing
martin-21728 November 2006
There are so many things to appreciate in this movie. First and foremost, Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren give outstanding performances as the First Couple of London's underworld. He, with the Cockney-made-good aspirations for status and the "class" he can never attain, epitomizes the hands-on manager overtaken by larger events. She, the cool-headed savvy- tough-and-sexy moll, is almost on top of things enough to redeem the situation but not quite. The key elements of the underworld ruling coalition-- dirty councilor and policeman, lieutenants of varying backgrounds both tough and educated-- make you believe in how this man has achieved peace through strength.

The film's plot is Byzantine whodunit, with gangland-style violence as an accent piece that seems downright tame in the age of "Pulp Fiction". The real hidden star, though, is late-70's London-- oh so run-down and yet full of the potential that drives Harold's ambitions. The views from boating on the Thames are unrecognizable to those who have only seen modern London--- the sole landmarks in common are Tower Bridge and the Savoy hotel. The towers of the City and modern Docklands are just a twinkle in dreamers' eyes.

Overall TLGF is a modern tragedy in the true land-of-Shakespeare tradition, somewhere between Macbeth and Hamlet and King Lear: ambition, betrayal, and the sweep of history interact richly without being heavy-handed in symbolism or over-artiness. This is a satisfying and complex film that invites re-viewing and reflection.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The 1980s begins with a bang
ed_zeppelin11 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers

Portraying Britain at the dawn of Thatcherism, The Long Good Friday presents its central character and itself like a spinning coin, looking towards the future but always about to slip back into the past, about to go one way or the other. Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) tells nostalgic and emotional stories about his National Service (which had been abolished for almost two decades when this film was made) and how he began his career as a street urchin An hour earlier, he had been proclaiming his glorious vision of 1980s Britain while – in a rather unsubtle piece of direction – framed by Tower Bridge. This world of opposites is expressed most clearly in Francis Monkman's zesty score, blending traditional classical instruments with Moroder-style synth-pop. It is ultimately hubris, the kind of overconfidence normally associated with '80s excess, that delivers Shand helplessly into the maw of a truly monstrous enemy that had existed for decades.

Not as complex as I've heard it made out (admittedly the DVD age means I can zip straight to the exposition scenes without effort, which helps), The Long Good Friday is still a breathtakingly audacious film and one that at times runs a real risk of alienating its audience while still retaining mass appeal. It blends together elements of various crime subgenres: it takes the criminal-turns-detective idea from Get Carter and marries it to the sickly, sleazy decadence that Scarface would portray so unflinchingly three years later, while the outlandish, ostentatious tactics Shand employs to intimidate his enemies come straight from The Godfather. Harold Shand is essentially a Tony Montana-style character: someone not very bright who has gone from poor to rich very quickly and doesn't know what to do with his loot, who thinks that money somehow equals invincibility. As his enemies continue to undermine his modern-man fantasy (he refers to himself as a businessman, not a criminal) he becomes steadily more delusional to the point where he eventually expresses an intent to wipe out the entire IRA. This is a self-evidently absurd statement that Shand takes totally seriously, immediately before slashing his most trusted lieutenant's jugular with a broken bottle, as Hoskins's incandescent performance charts the erosion of the character's veneer of sophistication. As the first two members of his gang are assassinated he asks himself who could make him and his associates a target: a legitimate question in the circumstances, but the emotional burst with which Hoskins delivers the sentiment suggests less a rational question and more a little child screaming that "IT'S NOT FAIR!".

Now, the IRA. Before September 11 2001 they were synonymous with terrorism in the UK and their omnipresent threat throughout the 1970s led to London becoming one of the most CCTV-heavy cities in the world. No wonder the film's original backers got cold feet, since while it doesn't in any way romanticise them it does portray them as the very essence of power. Against them Shand – no small fry in his own right – is nothing at all and even his ice-cold mistress (Helen Mirren) cracks under the threat against her despite being able to effortlessly parry the advances of Shand's lecherous thugs. But here's the twist: the whole thing's totally pointless.

This is what makes the film so daring. Virtually the entire film concerns the quest for Hichcock's MacGuffin, which in this case is defined by its absence: it is the answer to the mystery itself. The IRA are fingered fairly quickly, but the question is why. Keeping this question unanswered for so long rather than giving hints occasionally requires a predictably huge scene of exposition, which is totally subverted when it turns out that Shand hasn't actually done anything at all. The IRA mistakenly believe he is responsible for the murder of some of their agents and once fanatics get an idea in their heads that idea stays there. I can't think of another film that has its central premise turn to fairy-dust so spectacularly – not even The Maltese Falcon. This I think is where it risks losing its audience, because everything turns out to be so pointless. Is that dramatically satisfying? In the event yes, because rather than going into hiding (like Michael Corleone in the first Godfather) Shand's feathers get ruffled even more and, the irony apparently lost on him, he kills two IRA agents for real and is tracked down and captured within minutes. As he's driven away, almost certainly to his death, we get an extended close-up of Hoskins's face. Among the despair and panic, there's the occasional flicker of an impression that he's finally got the joke.

With complex characters, great writing, scintillating performances and a brave, uncompromising attitude to storytelling conventions, The Long Good Friday is an essential piece of British cinema.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The ultimate Brit gangster film
charlie-platt16 October 2002
Forget Lock Stock and the rest of Guy Ritchie's overrated rubbish,this is a real British gangster film.Great performances by Hoskins and Mirren and great support from a variety of dodgy looking geezers from TV. Hoskins final speech is electrifying , and deserves to go down in movie history. In conclusion,if you have'nt seen this movie ,get hold of a copy NOW. IT'S THE BUISNESS ********** 10/10
32 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Of Its Type, One of the Best
gelman@attglobal.net2 April 2011
"The Long Good Friday" is about a London crime boss, Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), who on the brink of his greatest triumph, runs into a series of hostile actions by unknown enemies which bring down his enterprise and, at the end, seem likely to cost him his life. The story is brilliantly laid out and told with considerable cinematic skill. But its outstanding feature is the acting, both by Hoskins and by Helen Mirren as Victoria, Shand's consort and collaborator. Hoskins has always been able to express suppressed rage, capable of being released into earthshaking violence, better than any other actor of recent times. Shand, on the verge of becoming a respectable "businessman," leaving behind his gangster past, is preparing to enter into an agreement with leaders of the New Jersey mafia when things suddenly come apart. One member of his gang, a homosexual, is murdered at a swimming pool when he makes overtures to a beautiful young man (played by an unknown Pierce Brosnan). Another member of his mob dies when the vehicle in which he has driven Shand's mother to church for Good Friday services, blows up. Then an unexploded bomb is found in one of his casinos. And shortly afterwards a luxurious pub he has bought and renovated is destroyed in a ball of flame as Shand himself drives toward with his prospective Mafia partners at his side. Through all of this, as Shand seethes and occasionally explodes, the beautiful Victoria is by his side as a calming and rational influence. I won't spoil the story by telling any more -- only that Shand and Victoria become more like themselves as the plot hurtles towards its conclusion. Viewers have no doubt seen Hoskins in this kind of role before or since "The Long Good Friday," but -- as far as I know -- they've never seen Helen Mirren in anything like the role she plays here. And, yes, despite her disclaimers, she really was a young beauty at the time this film was made.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Breathtaking British Gangland Thriller
Witchfinder-General-66629 September 2010
The Gangster film is certainly a genre that has brought forth more than a few great films, and John MacKenzie's breathtaking British Gangland Thriller "The Long Good Friday" (1980) must be one of the grittiest, exciting, most outstandingly acted and greatest specimen of all-time. In one of the most charismatic criminal performances ever, the great Bob Hoskins plays Harold Shand, a rich and powerful London crime boss, who is about to make a lucrative deal with the American mafia, when he and his associates are suddenly victims to brutal attacks by phantom enemies starting on Good Friday. Harold is desperate to find out who is behind the mysterious and bloody attacks and take action, without scaring away his new business partners.

"The Long Good Friday" has everything one might wish for in a Gangland thriller, and more. Bob Hoskins delivers one of the most charismatic performances I have ever seen in the role of gangster Harold Shand. Harold isn't the typical, laid back mob boss à la Don Corleone, but a former poor Cockney kid, who fought his way to the top; an irascible bulldog always ready to explode into uncontrolled violent outbursts. And while he is certainly a very dark protagonist, one can't help but have some sympathy for the tough guy with the mean Cockney accent. Equally great is Helen Mirren, in the role of Harold's smart and efficient wife Victoria. Mirren's Victoria is more than your usual gun moll; ravishing and sexy, cunning and utterly supportive of her husband's businesses, Victoria is both Harold's lover and dearest associate. There is no doubt that Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren are two of Britain's finest actors, and their performances here are utterly brilliant. In spite of the fact that Hoskins' Harold Shand must be one of the most charismatic Gangster characters in motion picture history, the film (unlike many mafia/gangster films) does never glorify gangsterism. On the contrary, it shows gangland life at its ugliest.

The film is extremely violent, at times, and the violent outbursts are always unrestrained and ugly, uncompromising and sometimes painful to look at. The entire film is uncompromising from start to finish, an incredibly gritty and (probably) very realistic experience, which simply cannot be missed by a lover of cult cinema. Hoskins and Mirren alone are pure brilliance, and the cast includes many other notable appearances. P.H. Moriarty shines as Harold's scary-looking right-hand man 'Razors', Eddie Constantine plays an American mob boss, and the young Pierce Brosnan appears as a silent Irish hit-man. The film is greatly photographed in London locations, and Francis Monkman's brilliant score is incredibly imposing and unforgettable.

The film has been advertised as 'the toughest gangster movie ever made' (quote on the German DVD cover), which I cannot say it is (this title would doubtlessly go to either one of the many Italian 70s gangster flicks, or to one of the countless brutal Japanese Yakuza films). However, "The Long Good Friday" is a truly gritty and tough-minded one, and one of the best there is. "The Long Good Friday" is a Gangster film as they should be: gritty, violent and uncompromising, incredibly stylish without being glorifying, brutal and sometimes disturbing; a masterpiece. At the moment, they are making an American re-make, which of course is going to be total crap. This original British classic is nothing short of brilliance and has to be seen by everyone interested in gritty cinema.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It's not about safety, it's about honour.
Spikeopath25 October 2008
It's the early 1980s, it's Good Friday, and Harold Shand is waiting to entertain some powerful American muscle. He hopes to get them to help fund his dockside development, but someone is murdering his men, and although Harold has a good idea who is responsible, he isn't quite prepared for the events that follow.

Plot wise, The Long Good Friday is a lesson in under taxing the audience, simplicity in structure and forgoing thunder in the name of telling a solid story. The Long Good Friday is a British gangster picture that owes more to the Paul Muni and Edward G Robinson pictures from the golden age than something like The Godfather. Where the characters are men of the street, working class villains who literally could be living around the corner from us, their respective antics giving them a reputation as infamous stars to be feared, and grudgingly admired.

What many modern day film lovers may not be aware of is that The Long Good Friday had its release delayed, held back a year as Margaret Thatcher and her merry men frothed at the mouth due to the films portrayal of the Irish Rebublican Army. This was at a time when the Irish troubles were reaching new and terrifying heights, and here in this film, the government sensed a fall out that could have sent wrong message shock waves across the British Isles. This is one of the chief reasons that lifts The Long Good Friday high above many of its contemporaries, it may be a simple story, but it's not merely about two gangs striving for power on one manor!.

Barrie Keeffe's script positively bristles with a hard bastard edge, some of the set pieces play out as true Brirtish greats, once viewed they are not to be forgotten. Some of the dialogue has an air of timeless bravado about it, delivered with cockney brashness from Bob Hoskins, Harold Shand. Hoskins is on fire, seemingly revelling in the role and fusing menace with a genuine sense of earthiness, one moment Harold is the bloke you want to have a pint of beer with, the next he's one step from rage induced retribution. Helen Mirren is fabulous as Harold's wife, Victoria, loyal and unerringly calm in the face of the madness unfolding, the supporting cast are also highly effective, with a cameo from Pierce Brosnan that is icy cold in making its point.

Perhaps now it feels like The Long Good Friday is only of its time, and it may well be that it's only British viewers of a certain age that can readily embrace the all encompassing thread of gangland London at risk from insurgents. But i'll be damned if i ever choose to love this film less with each passing year, because to me it only just stops shy of being a British masterpiece, bristling with realism at a troubled time, and cheesing off Margaret Thatcher in the process, hell it works for me, always. 9/10
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Part of the Blue Ribband 3 of GB Gangster Movies! Sheer Artistry at Its Finest
CatoTSR23 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If there ever was a case in point to make about Gangster/film art in history, L.G.F. would be one of 3 cases to put forward, the other 2 being,Get Carter & Layer Cake: I cant see why other IMDb-ers have commented on futility's such as, water running backwards in the swimming pool, when what you have here is the making of two screen idols, coupled with the teaming of probably the greatest film making talent in our history. The music/film score, Francis Monkmon (Sky) fame: Manic orchestral dizzy strings,coupled with the heavy saxophone solo's,puts this film tune theme, up there with the greats of Barry & Roy Budd inclusive: Super-stellar performances from Hoskins & Mirren, make this a must see No 3 of the Bulldog switchblade movies, before your soul, starts feeling the heat or touching the sides of your wooden crate: Helen Mirren (Probably the greatest British female treader of the boards, in our history). Was truly stupendous. Sexy,cohesive and method, on a very weak and poorly written part for her, demonstrated the ability of sheer acting genius: The story is self explanatory and does not require brain surgery to assimilate and nor should it: Now to my case in points 1. If it was not for the late great George Harrison(Same birthday as my dad!) and one or two others, this film would not have seen the light of day(Hand made films). 2. The beginning of the highly artistic 70s started with "Get Carter" the ending of the 70s Long Good Friday was born and subsequently, finished the off the decade! I rest my case in point, regarding the silly 60s. This IMDb was written on a Friday, a long hot sweltering one, wait a minute there's a knock on the door! "Oh hello Harold! Long time no see".
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Six degrees of brit-gangster acorn separation...
trikayami1216 December 2006
Along with Get Carter, perhaps the elder statesman of brit-gangster flicks, The Long Good Friday's offspring have a hard act to follow. Can only echo most of the comments here; peerless Bob Hoskins performance, with Helen Mirren showing a masterclass of understated support. The film is dated in some respects, but it's worn well, a timeless cult classic, with numerous actors - Pierce Brosnan among them - going on to make great careers. Other reviewers have commented on Guy Ritchie's efforts with Lock, Stock/Snatch failing to live up to this benchmark, but I'd take issue. Ritchie must have paid reasonable attention as I'd like to add a 'Trivia corner': To quote Razors (P.H. Moriarty) "...from little acorns" (referring to kids who extort car valeting money from Hoskins)...the actor went on to play gangster boss Harry in Lock, Stock...Harry also being the name of Hoskins character. Jack (Alan Ford), one of Hoskins' crew, went on to play boss Brick Top in Snatch Pierce Brosnan's 007 is now played by Daniel Craig, who was xxxx in Layer Cake, the latest brit-gangster flick to attempt to wrestle the title from TLGF...
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
chanelit-128 July 2003
This is the quintessential British gangster film, without a doubt. Bob Hoskins plays Harold Shand, a ruthless gangland boss whose empire suddenly starts crumbling before his eyes, over one Easter weekend. Shand goes to extraordinary lengths to find out just who's behind the slaughter, and why. Standout performances from all involved, especially Hoskins as Shand.

What makes the film so special is that it's played straight – not for laughs; there are no ‘mockney' accents or wide-boy routines here, just the serious business of bloody revenge.

Utterly compelling, I cannot really praise this enough; if you want to see a truly great British gangster film, watch this. Forgot Lock, Stock and the other pretenders, this is still very much the one to watch.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
1970's Gangsters - London style.
jgcole25 January 2011
This film opens with several disjointed scenes that leaves the viewer a little breathless and confused: A chauffeur murdered in his car, two men counting cash in a suitcase who are subsequently murdered, a man being knifed in a swimming club and a car bomb exploding outside of a church. We are able to catch up as the story slowly reveals itself but this one does require some viewer participation. While a very intelligent and well scripted film, the action is intense, the body count high and the violence more graphic than is usual for a British film of its era.

The central character in this crime drama is Harold Shand, a highly successful East End gangster who has just returned to London after a business trip to the U.S. Upon his return he finds his mob under attack, several of his employees killed and his organization the target of an unknown foe. Meanwhile he's trying to put together a semi-legit real estate deal, with American Mafia participation. Harold has to keep his American friends from getting nervous with an all out war going on and get to the bottom of whatever has gone wrong while he was away.

Harold is aided in all of this by the classiest moll ever: Victoria. She's beautiful, educated, well-mannered and high class (she brags that she went to school with Princess Anne). Her cool as ice exterior is quit the contrast to the crude thug, Harold, who fancies himself a businessman and hobnobs with politicians and legitimate entrepreneurs but is really only a tough Cockney hood (or 'ood as they say). Victoria tries to handle the Americans while Harold and his mob round up the usual suspects in an attempt to find out where the heat is coming from. Harold is at once a ruthless brute and a lovable and vulnerable little man and by the end of the movie it's easy to find yourself falling for him. He actually has real affection for his crew and treats them as family. This may leave him exposed as, like most movie gangsters, his arrogance and belief in his own invincibility are what will bring him down.

Bob Hoskins, in his first starring role, plays Harold in a performance that conjures up images of other little big men of the silver screen like Edward G. Robinson or James Cagney in some of their great gangster roles. While not as well known as his award winning role in the under appreciated "Mona Lisa", it is the one that put Hoskins on the map. Victoria is played by Helen Mirren and it's hard to take your eye off of her in all of her scenes. Helen was a very good looking girl in her day and was already an established star (having survived her role in "Caligula"). Eddie Constantine, Europe's favorite American, plays the American mafioso and a young Pierce Brosnan, in his first movie, plays an IRA killer.

The plot is a bit complex with a lot of characters to keep track of and the almost incomprehensible Cockney accents and slang are hard to follow (subtitles are helpful for non-Brits). But the story moves along smartly, the direction is very good and the lighting and photography excellent. This film is well done from its start to its memorable conclusion and is highly recommended.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Classic,if not prophetic British Gangster Thriller
BJJManchester14 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
With the possible exceptions of BRIGHTON ROCK and GET CARTER,"The Long Good Friday" has a strong case in being the best British gangster film yet produced.It thankfully lacks the jokey,facetious and overtly bloody attitudes that has plagued most UK-based hybrids since the 1990's (as personified by Guy Ritchie and others).It's occasional lapses into nastiness and schematic excesses are easily outweighed by an excellent script (which possesses considerable caustic wit),fine direction,great performances and memorable scenes.

Gangland boss Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) is on the verge of something big in his native London's docklands;replacing the declining port-side areas with vast new modern developments and buildings,even with a view to holding a future Olympic Games there.There is however a considerable fly in the ointment;would-be mafia backers are concerned as Harold's manor and underlings are subjected to a campaign of murder and bombings,later revealed to be the work of the IRA,who think Shand was responsible for the deaths of several of their members (when in fact he wasn't).An enraged Harold plans his revenge,but should he go ahead and do so?

The basic plot of "The Long Good Friday" is perhaps the film's only real weak point.In it's favour,it is certainly unusual but often somewhat over-complicated (several viewings may be needed to properly connect all it's threads) and a little far-fetched;the fact it is set around Easter (Ireland has had some very important events occurring around this holiday period throughout it's long history) may be intended irony.But in the midst of the considerable quality around it,these are modest complaints.John McKenzie's direction (what a shame his subsequent work has been much lower profile) is very well-judged,being either fast,exciting,subtle or reflective when the situation demands it,serving the thoughtful,literate,clever,often droll script by Barrie Keeffe.The characters are not the familiar stereotypes you'd expect in such gangster dramas,and performers like Bryan Marshall,Alan King and Eddie Constantine (in a rare English-speaking part) are given slightly more depth to roles that could have been mere ciphers.Helen Mirren is first class as Harold's mistress,one of the most interesting gangster's molls ever put on screen,but the entire film is dominated by the career defining performance of Bob Hoskins.His searing,commanding presence as Shand is outstanding,carrying conviction in every moment.Hoskins' portrayal is arguably the most anti of anti-heroes in cinematic history.Harold Shand thinks himself as a businessman and no longer a criminal with the 1980's about to loom,with apparent peace with rival gangs for a decade further emphasising this point.But with the uncontrollable mayhem taking place around him threatening his legitimate credentials,Harold is more than prepared to dish out some extremely brutal (if not sado-masochistic) treatment to find those responsible so the lucrative deal can go forward,making cynical,hypocritical remarks about the decline of various neighbourhoods along the way.

With the exception of a brief view of Tower Bridge near the beginning,director MacKenzie does not fall into the trap of familiar tourist views but less known London back streets and perhaps the last real view of the UK capital's somewhat neglected docklands in the pre-Thatcherite/Yuppie era in the late 70's/early 80's before it's redevelopment,Canary Wharf and all. This aspect of the plot turned out to be fascinatingly prophetic and accurate (if in a slightly different context),along with hopes for a London-staged Olympic Games.What with his desire for enterprise and virulent hate for Irish Republicans,it is no surprise that the character of Harold Shand could be perceived as a hero with certain right-wing types in Britain! Hoskins in fact often makes this most unpleasant of characters sympathetic (with some witty one-liners part of his repertoire) in the midst of similarly unsavoury individuals.His grotesque arrogance and megalomania however get the better of him when he somehow thinks he can take on the even more ferocious and brutal elements within the IRA.He is warned of the risks by one of his closest associates,fresh-faced Jeff (who is killed by Harold in a savage outburst) but to no avail.The irony of course,is that Harold himself did not instigate this chaos;it the aforementioned Jeff and one of his most trusted friends and associates,Colin,a homosexual,who fell prey to the dual temptations of sex and money while in Belfast (doing an errand without Shand's knowledge or approval),placing Harold's business plans in dire jeopardy.

The support cast has many future TV and Film stars who turn up every few minutes:Gillian Taylforth,Paul Freeman,Dexter Fletcher,Paul Barber,Karl Howman and Derek Thompson among them.The most notable of all is Pierce Brosnan,in a one word role as a IRA hit-man.It is Brosnan who appears with Hoskins in the film final and most memorable scene.The infamous abattoir sequence (with Shand's rival gang members hung upside down on meat hooks) is unforgettably horrifying and darkly funny,along with Harold's apocalyptic rage after finding out of the IRA's campaign against him. But the final drive away,with Brosnan holding Hoskins at gunpoint is now justly famous,holding on Harold's face seemingly endlessly but ingeniously,with all number of expressions telling us so much.This aspect of Hoskins' performance may be it's most impressive,despite being wordless.There has been a problem in some of Bob Hoskins' film roles since;undeniably a very fine actor,Hoskins however has sometimes fallen into the speech patterns and mannerisms of the role that made him a star into some other parts he has played,much to his detriment,though this has mostly been the exception rather than the rule.

In retrospect,"The Long Good Friday" has a lot to answer for;many other British filmmakers have followed it's example for nearly three decades in mostly resistible imitations,but the original has not dated much at all and is still superior to the virtually all of it's prototypes.

RATING:8 out of 10.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bob Hoskins creates a terrifying character in this gangster classic
thefan-23 June 1999
If you haven't seen this movie yet, you should make it your next rental. It's a gangster movie, and like all gangster movies it stands or falls on the strengths of the lead actor. In this case, we have Bob Hoskins, whose performance is so powerful that it will be the only thing you remember, except for a vague picture of Helen Mirren looking exquisite but uncharacteristically bland. Even as formidable a presence as Mirren's can't stand up to the lunatic intensity of Hoskins' performance. She actually seems to shrink from him, as who would not in this movie? Highly recommended.
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Underworld thriller bordering on espionage
dcmMovielover29 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
As Britain enters the Thatcher era, Harold Shand, London's most powerful criminal businessman, is on the verge of turning his underworld-empire into a legitimate corporation. As much as being a metaphor for the era, Harold is a genuinely believable force to be reckoned with, having Scotland Yard Detectives and London Councillors deep in his pockets, as well as influential members of society and his 'firm' of gangland henchmen forming his inner-circle. Played with complete conviction by the wonderful Bob Hoskins as Harold, supported by the great Helen Mirren as his upper-class wife Victoria, "The Long Good Friday" is a first rate underworld-set movie which edges to the boundary of espionage thriller. It has a narrative which reaches far beyond the excellent "Get Carter" which preceded it and "Mona Lisa" which came after it, two powerful bench mark films which focused solely on the underworld. The LGF has two distinct sub-plots running side by side which have dire consequences for Harold, both of which are directly linked to his growing power. Directed seamlessly, it is only a matter of time before the two threads come together (somewhere before the film's middle) and then Harold goes about dealing with the 'problem' the only way he knows how; with unshakable belief in himself and in his abilities. If the movie poses any question for thought, then it must be one which concerns the debate over brute force Vs ideology.

Spoiler Alert! As Harold's power-base and organisation grows, two trusted right-hand men (Colin of the old-guard and Jeff of the new generation) begin abusing their privileged positions within the expanding empire, operating with impunity motivated by greed and envy. When an unsanctioned 'job' for an IRA terrorist cell in Northern Ireland goes wrong, Harold's empire comes under violent retribution with premises bombed and henchmen murdered. While this takes place, Harold puts together a multi-million pound deal with American investment partners to re-develop London's rundown docklands; a project that will set an example for England's future, making it, in Harold's words "a leading European State". As the escalating destruction of his empire eventually comes to his attention (initially convinced that it must be an old underworld rival attempting to discredit him) Harold reacts with swift brutality. Unravelling the mystery, notching up murders and a terror campaign of his own, while Victoria strives to keep the lid of respectability on his empire, Harold becomes blinded by his wrath in order to reassert his authority regardless of whom against.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed