Runtime: 5.5 hours (approx total)
What To Expect: A salutation of the best of British gangster thrillers
Click here to buy on The Long Good Friday Blu-Ray Steelbook on Amazon
Here is a movie from older times, when less was said but the message carried more weight. The Long Good Friday is a very 20th century gangster movie and possibly the best British gangster movie out there, even to this day. Before there was Lock Stock, there was The Long Good Friday and before there was Tony Soprano, there was Bob Hoskins’ Harold Shand. 35 years after its release, it’s now demanding that space be made on the shelf, with a fully remastered steelbook Blu-Ray release courtesy of Arrow Films, due this May 4th. Arrow continues their impressive track record of rooting out 1980’s classics afforded slightly less Blu-love and giving them a blow out comprehensive celebration.
To like A Long Good Friday is to love story telling, delivered by fine acting. The movie centres on London mob supremo Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) and his attempt to develop docklands territory and legitimize his business in doing so. Climbing the food chain needs sponsorship, so New York heavyweight Eddie Constantine is flown in to listen to Shand’s pitch. However, Shand’s men (and even his own mother) begin falling prey to an unseen predator who nonetheless uses high publicity and embarrassing methods of executions – car bombs and bodies being nailed to floors. Unless Shand finds out who is doing it and put a stop to it at once, his potential investors from the States will walk.
This may have been the first time, or at least one of the first times, that ground was broken in the portrayal of a ruthless gangster as entirely human. Hoskins is one part sociopath, two parts regular businessman and average guy who likes a smoke and sometimes gets irritated by the missus. Acting aside, the pacing is also something to admire. Nowadays a movie like this might be tempted to shout and yell at its audiences for the first 15 minutes or so, or plant some ‘swerve’ in the intro, through fear of people not accepting a slower pace. This movie though plays things slowly, you’re there to watch a damn story for this one, not fist-pump the air. Perhaps Hoskins’ five minute dialogue-free ending, with the camera just showing his face going through a range of emotions, sums that up best. Although I do think that sometimes the movie is guilty of being a tad repetitive, at the expense of too much narrative being revealed in too short a time in the final half hour.
This movie on Blu-Ray for this edition has firstly been given the steelbook treatment. Those are popular for a reason, although review copies aren’t shipped with them. It has also been remastered, probably to the best as is technically possible. The restoration was sourced from the original negatives and approved by approved by cinematographer Phil Meheux. And you can tell, for instance in the many docks scenes, you can see clearly what is on the other side of the Thames, the ‘draw distance’ is impressive. The extras are also plentiful, around three and a half hours including new interviews, a making of documentary (with words from Helen Mirren and Pierce Brosnan), a Q&A session from 2000 with Bob Hoskins and more. Those choosing the limited edition will also receive a 100 page hard back booklet.
Is it The Godfather?, not quite. But for fans of this movie, which should be everyone, this should be one of May’s top picks.