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Long Good Friday, The (1980, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren)

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Before Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Sexy Beast came along, slick thriller The Long Good Friday ruled the roost among East End gangster pics. Armed with a strong script by Barrie Keefe and star-making performance by Bob Hoskins as a hard-as-nails East End ganglord, John MacKenzie’s film successfully transports the American gangster pic to these shores with gripping and incendiary results.

Shand’s attempt to raise  cash for a multi-million pound Dockland development are interrupted by a series of attacks on his gang by an unknown aggressor. Following an attempt to kill his mother and the murder of his best friend, Shand leaves his girlfriend Victoria (Helen Mirren) looking after the Americans while he hunts for the perpetrators. A fearsome interrogation of other local gang bosses brings no clues, but a bent police officer (Dave King) notes that a councillor, Harris (Bryan Marshall), recently had explosives stolen from his demolitions firm with strong Irish connections. The scene is set for a final confrontation, but is Harold out of his league?

The filmmakers had to fight a fierce battle to get the film released in British cinemas, with the ITC initially planning to cut all the violence and merely show the film on television. Luckily, Handmade Films rescued the film, enabling viewers to see it in all its gory detail (meat hooks et al). The Sunday Telegraph called it ‘a gangster thriller with all the pace and brio of the old Warner Bros melodramas, brought bang up to date with authentic settings,’ while The Times singled out Hoskins’ performance, noting: ‘His Harold is a chilling creation in his unpredictable shifts from maudlin sentiment to bestial ferocity.’

production details
UK / Handmade / 114 minutes / 1980

Director: John Mackenzie
Writers: Barrie Keeffe,

cast
Bob Hoskins as Harold Shand
Helen Mirren as Victoria
Paul Freeman as Colin
Dave King as Parky
Bryan Marshall as Harris
Derek Thompson as Jeff
Eddie Constantine as Charlie
P.H. Moriarty as Razors
Alan Ford as Jack
Paul Barber as Erroll
Karl Howman as David
Leo Dolan as Phil
Nick Stringer as Billy
Kevin McNally as Irish Youth
Patti Love as Carol Benson
Pierce Brosnan as 1st Irishman
Daragh O’Malley as 2nd Irishman
Tony Rohr as O’Flaherty
Ruby Head as Harold’s Mother
Charles Cork as Eric
Olivier Pierre as Chef
Paul Kember as Ginger
Bruce Alexander as Mac
Bill Moody as Boston
Stephen Davies as Tony
Dexter Fletcher as Kid
Trevor Laird as Boy Under Car
Dave Ould as Don
Nigel Humphreys as Dave
Brian Hayes as Pool Attendant
Alan Devlin as Priest
Pauline Melville as Dora
Mary Sheen as Lil
Georgie Phillips as Eugene
Billy Cornelius as Peter
Gillian Taylforth as Sherry
Robert Walker as Jimmy
Robert Hamilton as Flynn
James Ottaway as Commissionaire
Michael Ryan as Waiter

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