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The Long Good Friday

The Long Good Friday

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The Long Good Friday is a British
Cinema of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has had a major influence on modern cinema. The first moving pictures developed on celluloid film were made in Hyde Park, London in 1889 by William Friese Greene, a British inventor, who patented the process in 1890. It is generally regarded that the British film industry...

 gangster film starring Bob Hoskins
Bob Hoskins
Robert William "Bob" Hoskins, Jr. is an English actor known for playing Cockney rough diamonds, psychopaths and gangsters, in films such as The Long Good Friday , and Mona Lisa , and lighter roles in family films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook .- Early life :Hoskins was born in Bury St...

 and Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren, DBE is an English actor. She has won an Academy Award for Best Actress, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards.-Early life and family:...

. It was completed in 1979
1979 in film
The year 1979 in film involved some significant events.- Major events :* March 5 - Production begins on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.* May 25 - Alien, a landmark of the science fiction genre, is released....

 but, because of release delays, it is generally credited as a 1980 film. It was voted at number 21 in the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to:-Cinemas:The BFI runs the BFI Southbank and IMAX theatre, both located on the south bank of the River Thames in London...

's list of the top 100 British films of the 20th century, and provided Bob Hoskins with his breakthrough film role.


The film's protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 is Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), an old fashioned 1960s-style London gangster
A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang. Some gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from mob and the suffix -ster....

 who in the late 1970s is aspiring to become a legitimate businessman, albeit with the financial support of the American Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

, with a plan to redevelop the then-disused London Docklands as a venue for a future Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

. The storyline weaves together events and concerns of the late 1970s, including low-level political
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and police corruption
Police corruption
Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest....

, Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 (IRA) gun-running, the displacement of traditional British industry by property development, Britain's membership of the EEC (later the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

) and the free market economy - the latter was strongly in the ascendant at the time the film was made, in the first year of the Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...


Harold is the undisputed ruling kingpin of the London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 underworld, when his world is suddenly torn apart by a series of murders and exploding bombs from an unseen foe. Uncovering his enemy's identity forms much of the film's subsequent plotline. His ruthless and violent pursuit of leads only points out the small-time tawdriness of the organisation he hopes to legitimise.

The story seems to hinge upon an act of betrayal by one of Harold's closest aides, the implications of which only become clear near the film's climax
Climax (narrative)
The Climax is the point in the story where the main character's point of view changes, or the most exciting/action filled part of the story. It also known has the main turning point in the story...

, when the solution to the mystery is suggested though not spelled out. He acts on the information with the same brutality that took him to the pinnacle of the London underworld in the first place, but his enemies this time follow motivations different from those of his local rivals.

The American Mafia representatives, led by actor Eddie Constantine, decide to leave England because of all the killings but Harold is determined to stay and go into business with the Germans, saying that he will become a legitimate businessman. When he leaves their hotel, he gets into his car, which he thinks is being driven by his chauffeur but in fact has been taken over by two IRA men. The car then sharply pulls out from the hotel zone. Harold realises that his girlfriend, Victoria, is not in the car and sees her in the back of another car being driven away by armed men. Harold finds himself at gunpoint from the front seat passenger (a then-unknown Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years...

). As the car speeds away Harold is silent, but in his face we see a full range of emotions; at first astonishment which gives way to anger and then a slow realization that he is powerless and finally resignation to the fact that he is moments from death.


The film was directed by John Mackenzie and produced for £930,000 by Barry Hanson from a script by Barrie Keeffe
Barrie Keeffe
Barrie Colin Keeffe is an English dramatist and screenwriter, best known for his screenplay for the 1981 film The Long Good Friday....

, with a soundtrack by the composer Francis Monkman
Francis Monkman
Francis Monkman is an English rock, classical and film score composer, and a founding member of the progressive rock band Curved Air.-Career:...

; it was screened at the Cannes, Edinburgh and London Film Festivals in 1980.

The original story had been written by Keeffe for Hanson when the latter worked for Euston Films
Euston Films
Euston Films was a British film and television production company. It was a subsidiary company of Thames Television, and operated from the 1970s to the 1990s, producing various series for Thames, which were screened nationally on the ITV network...

, a subsidiary of Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

. Euston did not make the movie but Hanson bought the rights from Euston for his own company Calendar Films. Although Hanson designed the film for the cinema and all contracts were negotiated under a movie, not a TV agreement, the movie was eventually financed by Black Lion, a subsidiary of Lord Lew Grade
Lew Grade
Lew Grade, Baron Grade , born Lev Winogradsky, was an influential Russian-born English impresario and media mogul.-Early years:...

's ITC Entertainment
ITC Entertainment
The Incorporated Television Company was a British television company largely involved in production and distribution. It was founded by Lew Grade.-History:...

 for transmission via Grade's Associated TeleVision
Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

 (ATV) on the ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 Network. The film was commissioned by Charles Denton
Charles Denton (television and film producer)
Charles Denton is a British film and television producer and executive.He first worked for the BBC as a documentary filmmaker for five years from 1963, before he left the corporation to go freelance...

, at the time both Programme Controller of ATV and Managing Director of Black Lion. After Grade saw the finished film, he allegedly objected to what he saw as the glorification of the IRA. The film was scheduled for transmission with heavy cuts on 24 March 1981.

In late 1980, Hanson attempted to buy the film back from ITC to prevent ITV screening the film with these cuts which he said would be "execrable". and added up to "about 75 minutes of film that was literal nonsense". It was also reported at the same time that Bob Hoskins was suing both Black Lion and Calendar Films to prevent their planned release of a US TV version in which Hoskins' voice would be dubbed by English Midlands
English Midlands
The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...

 actor David Daker
David Daker
David Daker is an English actor.His is best known for his role as Harry Crawford in the hit series Boon. He also played PC Owen Culshaw in Z-Cars, Jarvis in Porridge, Captain Nathan Spiker in Dick Turpin....


Before the planned ITV transmission the rights to the film were bought from ITC by George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

's company, Handmade Films
Handmade Films
HandMade Films is a British film production and distribution company. Through a series of sales, and acquisitions, the company now known as Handmade Plc owns all the rights and assets of the original HandMade Films Ltd...

, for around £200,000 less than the production costs. They gave the movie a cinema release.


The film was shot on location around London including:
  • Heathrow Airport
    London Heathrow Airport
    London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , in the London Borough of Hillingdon, is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe...

     - Harold is seen arriving in London when getting off a plane there.
  • St Katharine Docks
    St Katharine Docks
    St Katharine Docks, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, were one of the commercial docks serving London, on the north side of the river Thames just east of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge...

     - Harold's yacht is moored on the Thames there.
  • St George in the East
    St George in the East
    St George in the East is an Anglican Church and one of six Hawksmoor churches in London, England, built from 1714 to 1729, with funding from the 1711 Act of Parliament...

     (Church of England
    Church of England
    The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

    ) Church - used for exterior shots of the church where Harold's mother goes to a service and where his Rolls Royce is blown up in the churchyard.
  • St Patrick’s Church (RC), Greenbank, Wapping
    Wapping is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which forms part of the Docklands to the east of the City of London. It is situated between the north bank of the River Thames and the ancient thoroughfare simply called The Highway...

     - used for the interior scenes of the Church service.
  • Canary Wharf
    Canary Wharf
    Canary Wharf is a major business district located in London, United Kingdom. It is one of London's two main financial centres, alongside the traditional City of London, and contains many of the UK's tallest buildings, including the second-tallest , One Canada Square...

    /West India Docks
    West India Docks
    The West India Docks are a series of three docks on the Isle of Dogs in London, the first of which opened in 1802. The docks closed to commercial traffic in 1980 and the Canary Wharf development was built on the site.-History:...

     is the venue for Harold's proposed marina development. The future location of One Canada Square
    One Canada Square
    One Canada Square is a skyscraper in Canary Wharf in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is the tallest completed building in the United Kingdom since 1991, standing at above ground level and containing 50 storeys...

     is clearly visible as his yacht tours the site. There is also a small model of the proposed development in Harold's yacht.
  • Paddington station
    Paddington station
    Paddington railway station, also known as London Paddington, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex.The site is a historic one, having served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current mainline station dates...

  • King George V Dock in the Royal Docks
    Royal Docks
    The Royal Docks comprise three docks in east London - the Royal Albert Dock, the Royal Victoria Dock and the King George V Dock. They are more correctly called the Royal Group of Docks to distinguish them from the Royal Dockyards, Royal being due to their naming after royal personages rather than...

    , now the site of London City Airport
    London City Airport
    London City Airport is a single-runway airport. It principally serves the financial district of London and is located on a former Docklands site, east of the City of London, opposite the London Regatta Centre, in the London Borough of Newham in east London. It was developed by the engineering...

     - Harold has a meeting here.
  • The Savoy Hotel
    Savoy Hotel
    The Savoy Hotel is a hotel located on the Strand, in the City of Westminster in central London. Built by impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte with profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the hotel opened on 6 August 1889. It was the first in the Savoy group of hotels and restaurants owned by...

     - where Harold meets the American Mafia at the end of the film.
  • Wigmore Street
    Wigmore Street
    Wigmore Street is a street in the City of Westminster, in the West End of London, England. The street runs for about 600 yards parallel and to the north of Oxford Street between Portman Square to the west and Cavendish Square to the east....

  • The Salisbury
    The Salisbury
    The Salisbury is a Grade II* listed pub on Grand Parade in Harringay, north London.-History:The Salisbury was built and designed by John Cathles Hill, founder of The London Brick Company. The pub was opened in 1899 with W.A. Cathles, a cousin of Hill, as the manager...

     pub, 1 Grand Parade, Green Lanes
    Green Lanes
    Green Lanes, London, is a main road in North London and forms part of the A105. At approximately 7.5 miles from end to end, it is one of the longest streets in the capital....

    , Harringay
    Harringay is a residential area of North London, part of the London Borough of Haringey, United Kingdom. It is centred on the section of Green Lanes running between the northern boundary of Finsbury Park up to the southern boundary of Duckett's Common, not far from Turnpike Lane.-Location:The...

     - used to represent Fagan's Pub in Belfast
    Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

  • The Lion and Unicorn pub, was a set built for the film in Wapping. Hoskins has said that they used to get members of the public knocking on the door asking if it was open. It is blown up in the film.
  • The Governor General pub - where Harold finds Billy (Nick Stringer) - is the Waterman's Arms, a Thames-side pub at 1 Glenaffric Avenue on the Isle of Dogs.
  • Harringay Stadium
    Harringay Stadium
    Harringay Stadium was a major greyhound racing and speedway venue in Harringay, North London. It was built and opened in 1927 and closed in 1987.-Construction:...

    , Green Lanes
    Green Lanes
    Green Lanes, London, is a main road in North London and forms part of the A105. At approximately 7.5 miles from end to end, it is one of the longest streets in the capital....

    , Harringay
    Harringay is a residential area of North London, part of the London Borough of Haringey, United Kingdom. It is centred on the section of Green Lanes running between the northern boundary of Finsbury Park up to the southern boundary of Duckett's Common, not far from Turnpike Lane.-Location:The...

    , a greyhound racing stadium at the time, now the site of a superstore - the banger racing scenes were shot here.

Cast notes

The film includes a large number of performances by young actors who later became famous.
  • Paul Barber (Denzil in Only Fools and Horses
    Only Fools and Horses
    Only Fools and Horses is a British sitcom, created and written by John Sullivan. Seven series were originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom between 1981 and 1991, with sporadic Christmas specials until 2003...

    and Horse from The Full Monty
    The Full Monty
    The Full Monty is a 1997 British comedy film directed by Peter Cattaneo, starring Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, and Hugo Speer. The screenplay was written by Simon Beaufoy...

    ) plays Errol the Ponce, a police informant who is visited by Harold and his intimidating associate Razors.
  • Pierce Brosnan
    Pierce Brosnan
    Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years...

    , in his first film role, appears as an IRA hitman.
  • Dexter Fletcher
    Dexter Fletcher
    Dexter Fletcher is an English actor. He is best known for his role in Guy Ritchie film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as television roles in such shows as the dramedy Hotel Babylon, the critically acclaimed HBO series Band of Brothers and earlier in his career, the children's show...

     is the boy who asks for money to watch Harold's car.
  • Karl Howman
    Karl Howman
    Karl Howman is an English actor and also a British voice-over artist.He is well known but notable to many television viewers for his work as Jacko in the mid-1980's and early-90's BBC TV sitcom Esmonde and Larbey's Brush Strokes and as the title character in the series Mulberry .However Howman first...

      (Jacko in Brush Strokes
    Brush Strokes
    Brush Strokes is a British television sitcom, broadcast on BBC television from 1986 to 1991. Written by Esmonde and Larbey and set in South London, it depicted the amorous adventures of a good-looking, wisecracking house painter, Jacko...

    ) appears as a young detective-sergeant who enjoys socialising with the criminal fraternity.
  • Kevin McNally
    Kevin McNally
    Kevin McNally is an English actor who has worked in theatre and radio extensively as well as in film and television.-Life and career:...

    , star of many films and TV programmes is seen in a Belfast bar scene.
  • P.H. Moriarty ("Razors") and Alan Ford
    Alan Ford (actor)
    Alan Ford is an English actor. Ford was trained at East 15 Acting School. He is perhaps best known today for his roles in the Guy Ritchie crime capers Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and guest starring in The Bill...

     appear as members of Shand's gang. Both would later play chief villains in Guy Ritchie
    Guy Ritchie
    Guy Stuart Ritchie is an English screenwriter and film maker who directed Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Revolver, RocknRolla and Sherlock Holmes.-Early life:...

  • Daragh O'Malley
    Daragh O'Malley
    Daragh O'Malley is an Irish film, theatre and television actor, best known for his portrayal of the much loved and ever faithful but rather fearsome Patrick Harper in the legendary Sharpe TV series along side Sean Bean...

    , who plays Sergeant Patrick Harper in the series of TV movies based on Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe
    Richard Sharpe (fictional character)
    Sharpe is a series of historical fiction stories by Bernard Cornwell centred on the character of Richard Sharpe. The stories formed the basis for an ITV television series wherein the eponymous character was played by Sean Bean....

    series of historical novels, appears as Brosnan's fellow assassin.
  • Gillian Taylforth
    Gillian Taylforth
    Gillian Taylforth is an English actress. She is best known for her roles as Kathy Mitchell on the BBC soap opera, EastEnders and as Jackie Pascoe-Webb on ITV's Footballers Wives , but more recently as Sgt. Nikki Wright in ITV's The Bill...

    , later of EastEnders
    EastEnders is a British television soap opera, first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 19 February 1985 and continuing to today. EastEnders storylines examine the domestic and professional lives of the people who live and work in the fictional London Borough of Walford in the East End...

    fame, appears briefly as a young woman who finds the security guard nailed to the floor of a disused warehouse.
  • Derek Thompson, who went on to find fame as Charlie Fairhead in medical drama Casualty
    Casualty (TV series)
    Casualty, stylised as Casual+y, is a British weekly television show broadcast on BBC One, and the longest-running emergency medical drama television series in the world. Created by Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin, it was first broadcast on 6 September 1986, and transmitted in the UK on BBC One. The...

    appears as Harold's right-hand man, Jeff, who is killed by Harold in an argument on Harold's yacht.

External links