This little known (to me anyway) gangster film is one of the best I have ever seen.
I really wish there would have been a commentary track from Bob Hoskins.
I had never heard of the The Long Good Friday until the powers that be at the site asked me to review it. From the opening strains of the Tangerine Dream-like soundtrack, I settled in and realized that this movie was going to be good. John Mackenzie does a very interesting thing by setting up the plot of the movie while not getting to the main character, Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), right away. Shand is on the verge of a very big deal with an American company. Little does he know that while he's been away, certain events have been put in place that will start to undue his "corporation" piece by piece.
This film then becomes one of Shand trying to figure out why at a time when the American company has come to England to complete the deal, is everything beginning to go wrong for this man? As his businesses are blown up and his loyal men are killed, Shand suddenly realizes that the seed of his undoing is actually a lot closer to home than he would like to realize. What ensues is a complex tale of a man trying to make his life right and one of the best gangster films ever in The Long Good Friday.
Anchor Bay once again hits a home run with this documentary on the making of The Long Good Friday. We get to hear from the director, Hoskins and Helen Mirren among others, as they recount what it was like making this layered film. I loved hearing Hoskins and Mirren discourse on their roles and what they think the legacy of this movie is going to be. Top notch stuff from one of the best DVD distributors in the business.
John Mackenzie is funny in that he doesn't introduce himself until after he's already been talking for about five minutes. He discusses making the film, casting the actors and just about everything else, but he seems like such a slight man that it's amazing that he was able to grasp on to this material like he did. My only complaint is that he spends too much time watching the movie and that leaves lulls in the commentary.
Cockney Slang Glossary
I would actually suggest going through this if you aren't familiar with the dialect that is used by the British. Growing up on such shows as The Young Ones, I didn't have a problem following words like "ponce" (homosexual) and "spots" (acne; inferring that a grown-up is still a kid). This thing is worth scrolling through if for no other reason than the definitions are kind of funny.
Poster & Still Gallery
Behind the scenes pictures, shots from the movie and posters from the release of the film makeup this featurette. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this segment if I would have screened it on a bigger TV. As it stands, it was cool seeing artwork in the days before movies seemed to all be marketed in a cookie cutter fashion.
Screenplay on DVD-Rom
I think this is something that is more for the screenwriters out there and since I count myself amongst that enormous group, I really enjoyed looking at this. The best way to learn about writing movies is to read a lot of scripts, books and watch a lot of movies. This DVD-Rom is a great place to begin.
Widescreen Presentation - 1.77:1 - Enhanced for 16x9 TVs. This movie from 1979 looks really good. I don't know what Anchor Bay did to the print before they got it ready for it's DVD compression, but the picture was quite clear. In fact, there are a lot of reds and blacks in the film and sometimes on my set they can get a bit pixilated. That didn't happen at all during my screening of this DVD.
Dolby Digital - Mono. I know that stereo is supposed to be better than mono, but until I looked at what the audio was for this disc, I just kind of assumed that everything was in stereo. Aside from not having a hard time following the actors with their very thick accents, I absolutely loved the soundtrack to this film. In fact, I am willing to bet that 30% of the reason why I think The Long Good Friday is as good as it is, is because of the soundtrack which really underscores the film without getting in the way of it.
The amarary case that houses the DVD comes with a covering of sorts. On it is a harsh looking shot of Bob Hoskins with shots of Helen Mirren, bodies hanging and things blowing up all around him. The back features similar shots, a description of this movie, a "Features" section, cast list and some technical specs. The cover on the DVD itself is my favorite. It is all black with some red lettering and a gray shot of Hoskins' face in the background. The back is a mix of black and white shots and has the same information as the DVD's covering.
Bob Hoskins is absolutely brilliant in this role. While he never scared me in the way that the artwork for this film suggests he might, what makes his performance stand out the most is his ability to run through so many emotions. His men aren't scared of him, they respect him and care for him. When the American's are being wishy washy about the deal in the beginning of the movie, he seems almost contrite in not wanting to do anything to make them pull out of it. When he argues with his wife Victoria (Helen Mirren) and things get a bit physical, Harold is deeply effected by his behavior. I am not saying that Shand is a nice guy but Hoskin's infuses the character with a bevy of human complexities that really raise his performance and thus this movie.
The Long Good Friday is a gem of a film that recalls other great low key gangster movies like Thief and The Pope of Greenwich Village.
The Long Good Friday was released November 1, 1980.