Sunday, January 29, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Long Good Friday (1980) ****

R, 114 min.
Director: John Mackenzie
Writer: Barrie Keeffe
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Derek Thompson, Dave King, Bryan Marshall, Eddie Constantine, Paul Freeman, Pierce Brosnan

“The Long Good Friday” is like so many of the great movies I’ve been experiencing lately. It sneaks up on you. Its greatness is never fully apparent until it’s run its course. Throughout most of its running time, it’s a good crime noir. Bob Hoskins is excellent at getting the audience on the side of his crime boss who stays just legitimate enough for him to justify his actions as being done for the good of London.

He’s been away in America working on a land development deal that he’s hoping will coincide with the Olympics coming to London in 1988. Now, the American he’s been wooing for financial backing is coming to London for the final negotiations. On the day the American arrives, Good Friday, someone starts an attack on Hoskins’ organization, killing several of his top men. He must resolve his problems within 24 hours, or the American will back out. What the filmmakers didn’t know is that the ’88 Olympic hosting bid would go to Seoul, South Korea. That would’ve thrown a wrench in his plans as well.

A young Helen Mirren plays Hoskins’ lover and right-hand woman, the anchor for his mobster brutality. A very young Pierce Brosnan also plays a small role as do several other British actors who would go on to success in England. The movie is probably director John Mackenzie’s best and is a landmark in British crime movies. Directors Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes”) and Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class”) owe much of their early work to the influence of “The Long Good Friday”. 

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