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Long Good Friday, The (reissue)


Stars: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Dave King, Eddie Constantine, Bryan Marshall, Paul Freeman, Derek Thompson, Kevin McNally, P H Moriarty, Karl Howman, Alan Ford, Dexter Fletcher, Gillian Taylforth, Tony Rohr

Director: John Mackenzie

Currently being mooted for a remake, this coruscating portrait of the changing face of Brit gangsterdom at the end of the 1970s shot Bob Hoskins to stardom as the the affluent East End criminal Harold Shand, a role he made his own.

In the early sixties of UK crime cinema, there had been Hell is a City and The Criminal, both dominated by Stanley Baker. The early seventies brought even tougher fare - Villain and Get Carter.

But here the tough British crime film moved on another decade, decisively changing the scenario, and revealing a yet blacker and more violent picture, as the over-complacent British gangster is ruthlessly brushed aside by interests from America and the new lawlessness from Ireland.

The scenes of violence are many, ugly and professional, and the film moves like a steamroller, heavy and relentless but ever onwards, greatly helped by the doomy background music of Francis Monkman.

As the cockney kingpin of London crime, Hoskins is best when roaring defiance at his enemies like a wounded, cornered animal. The rest of the acting does not always seem as relaxed as it might be, with the definite exception of King's thoroughly bent policeman. Pierce Brosnan makes his movie debut, and TV fans will also spot a pre-Casualty Derek Thompson.

David Quinlan

UK 1979. UK Distributor: Arrow (originally British Lion). Colour by Rank.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Jun 2015