On this day, 29 March, in 1981, The Long Good Friday was released to the world (at first in London). Over the years, I’ve come to hate films that make gangsters out to be heroes. That’s true of The Godfather, of course, but also of Goodfellas and The Sopranos. The Long Good Friday is not like that.
In it, Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) is a successful London-based gangster who is trying to expand his operation into real estate with the help of representatives of the American mafia. Shand is clearly older and more thoughtful than he used to be. In fact, he has become part of the establishment and spends much of the film whining about the state of the world that he helped build.
But despite his protestations, he’s still just a thug who rationalizes his own horrible behavior while complaining about that of others. Ultimately, he has little going for him other than his propensity toward violence.
That’s his downfall. The behavior that allowed him to rise to the top of the crime world doesn’t suit him outside of it. He doesn’t do what he should with the IRA and it is clear that he wouldn’t do any better with the real estate deal.
Whenever I read about a film production, I’m amazed that any film ever gets produced. It’s like flipping a coin 50 times and requiring that it come up heads every time. The Long Good Friday was no exception.
It was originally produced as a film, but its funding collapsed. So it was picked up by ITC. But then when it was ready to be broadcast, it was badly cut. So a scramble ensued and Handmade Films (George Harrison’s company) bought it and released it.
If you get a chance, you really should watch it. It’s a great film.
Also on 29 March
Shaun of the Dead had its world premiere in London in 2004.
Terence Hill (My Name Is Nobody) is 81, Eric Idle (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) is 77, Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) is 72, Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) and Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) are 65, Christopher Lambert (Highlander) is 63, Amy Sedaris (Strangers With Candy) is 59, Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) is 52
Image cropped from IMDb under Fair Use.