The Long Good Friday (1980)

long good friday poster 1980 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren

Story sometimes could use some more tightening up, hard to understand nuances of script without background of events

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Long Good Friday

Studio:  Black Lion Film

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  November 1980

MPAA Rating:  R


Well this isn’t going as planned…

Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) is a man with gangster roots that is planning to go straight with a deal involving the upcoming Olympics for London.  Harold and his girlfriend Victoria (Helen Mirren) find their deal headed south when someone begins targeting his men…Harold finds himself pulled back into the world he is trying to avoid and the danger could be closer than he thought!

Directed by John Mackenzie, The Long Good Friday is a British gangster thriller.  The movie was well received upon its release despite problems with its release (drastic cuts were ordered to tone down the violence and Bob Hoskins objected to plans to dub him for distribution in America).  The movie is generally listed in the “Best Of” lists for British films and helped make Bob Hoskins a film star.  The Criterion Collecton released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #26).


Seems we have a problem

The Long Good Friday is one of those gritty, dirty movies that has a lot of atmosphere.  With a twisting plot built on shadowy deals and secret assassinations, the film is benefited by watching more than once to capture all the nuances in the script.

The story for the movie is very “British”.  As an American, I don’t know a lot of the subtext or context behind the story.  With IRA dealings and political corruption that viewers might be familiar with if they are from the country, an outsider might have some difficulties knowing what exactly is occurring involving some of social aspects of the story.


Call me Bond…Young Bond!

The movie really is an actor’s showcase.  Bob Hoskins really eats up all his scenes.  This movie gave Hoskins his big break as a leading man, and he really makes the most of it.  Hoskins is a rather unlikely leading man, but if he’s used correctly, he works…like here.  Helen Mirren also does a lot with her rather downplayed role.  It is obvious that she has a lot of control over Harold, but she doesn’t play it up on screen as much as she could.  The movie is also noted for being one of the first roles for a young Pierce Brosnan who plays one of the IRA assassins.


Calgon…take me away!

The Long Good Friday looks great.  It isn’t clean and it isn’t polished, but it works for the film.  The movie feels like the period from which it comes and there is something charming about the throwback style.  It isn’t loaded with special effects and it is just graphic and real…plus, you get the classic scene when Hoskins “challenges” his enemies by hanging them upside down in meat house.

The Long Good Friday is a solid action film that benefits from multiple viewings.  Both Hoskins and Mirren went on to bigger things and it is nice to go back and revisit their earlier roots.  The Long Good Friday (like everything it seems today) is being looked at for a remake…but I think you probably should stick to the original.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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