Hello my dear readers! I know it has been a while since I last posted, but I now promise to at least update this blog somewhat regularly. As many of you have probably heard, the legendary Bob Hoskins passed away at the age of 71. Although known stateside for his roles in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Hook”, Hoskins was revered in the UK as a phenomenal actor and one that was never truly appreciated stateside. On a personal note, Mr. Hoskins and his role in “Roger Rabbit” made this reviewer realize the power of film acting, and made me a lifelong fan of Mr. Hoskins. While “Roger Rabbit” is a personal favorite of this reviewer and Mr. Hoskins’ role in that film was incredible, this blog does reviews on UK films, and since Mr. Hoskins had a long and varied career in the UK, View From Across The Pond will be posting reviews on several of his UK films and TV shows. First up is a look at one of the most influential British Films of the 1980s, John Mackenzie’s “The Long Good Friday”.
Set in the beginning of Thatcher’s Britain, “The Long Good Friday” tells the story of Harold Shand (Hoskins) the top Gangster boss in London and his moll Victoria (Helen Mirren). While Harold is set to meet with a couple of New York Mafia guys in London in order to finance his ambitions to go straight, things start taking a turn for the worse with a series of bombings and murders that are directed at Harold. Throughout the day (it takes place on Good Friday), Harold attempts to uncover who is trying to scuttle his deal and have him killed.
Besides the fact that this movie is an awesome gangster film, the performances are what make this movie standout. Hoskins (in his breakthrough film role) portrays Shand with the right amount of menace and charm. Even though the man is a cold blooded killer, you do want him to succeed because he sees like a legitimate businessman and such a charming bloke. Helen Mirren also stands out as Victoria, taking a part that could have been easily one note and changing into a more complex character. The supporting roles are also great with special apropos going to Eddie Constantine as New York Mafia boss Charlie, and Bryan Marshall as the drunk councilman. The score by Francis Monkman is also incredible and nontraditional for a movie such as this. Finally another great part of the story is the parallels between the Britain of old and the rise of Margaret Thatcher. Throughout the film, Hoskins tries to court the Americans and talks disparagingly about immigrants and the poor interrupting progress; interestingly enough, this type of rhetoric was often used by Margaret Thatcher. Additionally, there is also an added dynamic between the Irish Republican Army trying to muscle in on Harold’s turf: In one notable scene, Harold’s top lieutenant tells him that you cannot deal with them like normal gangsters but have to treat them differently. This interestingly corresponds to how Thatcher would deal with the Irish Troubles by creating different rules and different tactics from her predecessors in order to stamp out the IRA.
Filled with great performances, tight direction, and extreme coolness, it is understandable why “The Long Good Friday” was ranked 21 on the top 100 British Films list by the BFI and is a notable influence in the work of Guy Ritchie and other prominent English gangster films. Definitely check it out!
Review: 4 stars out of 4
Fun Fact: The film also features small roles from actors such as Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Kevin McNally (Mr. Gibbs in “The Pirates of the Carribbean” Series), Paul Freeman (Belloch from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”), P.H. Moriarty (Hatchet Harry in “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”), Brian Hall (Terry the Chef from “Fawlty Towers”), Alan Ford (Bricktop from “Snatch”), Daragh O’Malley (Harper in “Sharpe’s”) and Dexter Fletcher (“Lock Stock” and “Hotel Babylon”).