Review – The Long Good Friday (1980)


I think it’s fair to say that nobody does gangster movies quite like the British, and for me there are only two, possibly three, true British Gangster classics. One, is obviously Get Carter (1971). The other is The Long Good Friday, made in 1980 starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren.

The story goes something like this. Harold Shand, a successful British crime lord, played by Hoskins, has big plans. He’s trying to close a potentially lucrative deal with his American counterparts, to redevelop huge parts of the London dockland. Everything seems to be going well when bombs start going off all over London, at Harold’s establishments including a couple of his casino’s.

What follows is 90 minutes of complete mayhem, as Shand desperately tries to figure out who’s trying to screw up the deal, and who’s killing off his friends and colleagues. There’s much violence and chaos along the way leading to a blood soaked, and quite surprising climax.

Hoskins portrayal of Harold is very reminiscent of the classic American gangsters of the 30s and 40s, including James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. Acting plaudits also go to Helen Mirren who’s perfect as Shand’s girlfriend, Victoria. She’s much more than the standard, gun toting, gangsters moll. She’s smart, sophisticated, and Harold’s rock, the only steadying influence, in amongst all the violence and disorder.

The Long Good Friday is a classic British crime movie, featuring a stellar cast of Londoners, most of whom you will definetely recognise from various other movies and television series. We also have, so i’m told, a few real gangsters, the genuine article so to speak, presumably to lend a feel of authenticity to the proceedings. Hoskins actually recieved a fan letter from none other than Ronnie kray,  praising his performance.

The movie did the rounds on a double bill with another brutal British film, the 1979 borstal based drama Scum. What a wince inducing double bill that must have been.

Quick piece of trivia for you. The movie was picked up by ex Beatle George Harrisons company, Handmade Films Ltd,  after being slated for a television release by ITC. Upon viewing his newly-purchased production for the first time, Harrison said that he’d never have approved such a violent film had it been produced by Handmade.

Despite this the movie did very well at the box office, and is now regarded as a classic of the genre. It’s also regularly mentioned in the same sentence as Get Carter, which is high praise indeed. Now that would have been a double bill worth watching……



How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


I am passionate about movies and cinema generally. I love talking about them and writing about them.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *