Directed by John Mackenzie
Written by Barry Keeffe
Starring Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren
Bob Hoskins was a remarkable actor. He was usually seen as something of an everyman, a teddy bear who would show a temper born of frustration. The Long Good Friday was a much different role, and Hoskins was brilliant in it.
Harold Shand (Hoskins) was a small-time London gangster whose brutality and ruthlessness brought him to the top of the underworld. He is trying to start making money legitimately, when some of his organization are murdered, often by bombs going off. Not only is the bad for his people, it’s bad for business, and Harold decides to put an end to it – using the ruthless methods that brought him to the top. This is a big mistake.
Hoskins’s biggest strength is his blustery persona, usually used to comic effect. In this case, though, he plays it seriously. He is a dangerous man (or at least he thinks it is) who is used to getting what he wants by bullying and cruelty. It’s one of his best roles.
The movie made him an important actor. Though he had done some successful British TV,* his movie roles were either small or in unimpressive films. After seeing him here, producers started
*Notably as Arnie Cole in the miniseries Flickers. He also played the lead in the miniseries Pennies from Heaven, thought Steve Martin had the role in the movie version.