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The Long Good Friday (1980)

Who lit the fuse that tore Harold’s world apart?

Directed by:

John Mackenzie

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 114 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

Try sitting through ‘The Long Good Friday’ without coming out of the other side talking like a Cockney gangster. It can’t be done. It’s like watching Crocodile Dundee without wanting to take up didgeridoo lessons, Jaws without lifting your feet up onto the sofa, or The Hours without falling into a deep, deep slumber. Bob Hoskins, in the role that made him a star, stars as stubby crime lord Harold, a man who loves his home city of London almost as much as he loves rhyming slang, xenophobia and bludgeoning his enemies to death. For ten years he’s kept the threat of a gang war at bay, but it looks like he’s in a spot of soapy bubble when some less-than-diamond geezers start blowing up his pubs and nailing his henchmen to various floors. Worse still is that it’s all happening at the same time as he’s trying to sweet-talk some visiting Mafia swellguys into joining him on his latest “business venture” (and if it doesn’t involve some poor sucker waking up face-down in the Thames at one point or another, then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle). The flick does contain a few instances of graphic violence, though it’s not really as shocking as it’s often made out to be. It’s the performance of Hoskins that really makes this film what it is – a tough, gritty, and surprisingly convincing slice of life in the underworld of early-80s Thatcherite Britain. Look out for Helen Mirren delivering a sturdy performance as Victoria, Harold’s moll-with-a-mind. And anyone even remotely familiar with UK pop culture can have a great time spotting the other familiar faces in the supporting cast – my personal faves are Derek Thompson (Charlie from ‘Casualty’), Karl Howman (Jacko from ‘Brush Strokes’) and a non-speaking Pierce Brosnan (can’t remember what he’s been in or who he’s played, but he definitely looks familiar).

It's Got: Claret

It Needs: Apples and pears.

DVD Extras Some original trailers, audio commentary from director John Mackenzie, interviews with Mackenzie and Hoskins, castographies (I just made that word up), and some film notes. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Gangster No.1, Get Carter, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, The Krays

Summary

Engrossing and influential, this laid the groundwork for every British gangster-flick that followed. Where would Guy Ritchie be without stuff like this?

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