The Long Good Friday

A part of this view­ing list: Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion Spine #26: John Mackenzie’s The Long Good Fri­day.


The Long Good Fri­day stars Bob Hoskins and con­tains a Gay­ish Pierce Bros­nan. It was made before I was born, but hav­ing seen it, I believe that Guy Ritchie loves this movie. Maybe because the film is argot­ful of the Lon­don under­ground, and films like Lock, Stock and Two Smok­ing Bar­rels and Snatch, and char­ac­ters like Don Chea­dle plays in the Ocean’s fran­chise echo so strong­ly with the nat­ur­al cadence, of bob [Hoskins] and weave. It is a gang­ster film only loose­ly, and even 27 years after it was made, the polit­i­cal sub­text involv­ing the IRA and hands-dirty polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion is what is most obvi­ous. We don’t find out that it is the Irish caus­ing Harold [Hoskins] to have such a long Good Fri­day, but we do dis­cov­er a sin­cere respect for the effec­tive tac­tics of the IRA, if not quite an out­right endorse­ment of them.


Hoskins is meant to be the hero, as much as a crime-lord can be; so we have to find some­thing even more despi­ca­ble to attach the ran­cor toward. Betray­al is the motive which allows this to hap­pen, and when it turns out that betray­al was only appar­ent and acci­den­tal the cliff ahead seems inevitable. Harold has ruled Lon­don, in peace, for ten years, but in a lit­tle over 24 hours ends up so far out of his ele­ment that we have almost as com­plete a rever­sal as pos­si­ble. Notwith­stand­ing the afore­men­tioned Gay Pierce Bros­nan, there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of homo­sex­u­al sub­text to the film as well. The always excel­lent Helen Mir­ren is the only female char­ac­ter of any sub­stance in and entire film of gun-wield­ing gang­sters tak­ing show­ers, hug­ging each oth­er, tak­ing more show­ers, being stabbed by Gay Pierce Bros­nan while tak­ing show­ers, etc. Pierce Brosnan’s char­ac­ter isn’t actu­al­ly gay, he just acts like it in order to stab the left-hand man and bosom-mil­i­tary-bud­dy of Harold, who actu­al­ly is gay, at least in the movie. Fol­low me, did­ja?


The Amer­i­can Mafia is present in the form of a lawyer and some dude who is going to help fund Hoskins in his real-estate ven­ture to make a mint buy­ing prop­er­ty for the Olympic Sta­di­um before it is built, or some­thing. The details aren’t ever crys­tal, and don’t need to be. What also isn’t crys­tal is whether the Mafia is in cahoots, or at least con­tact, with the IRA who are destroy­ing Harold’s empire. So this gang­ster film also rais­es some hairy for­eign pol­i­cy ques­tions. There’s plen­ty of the deca­dence that char­ac­ter­ized 1980s cul­ture, sans the cocaine, since Harold “nev­er got into nar­cotics.” I kept expect­ing a Good­fel­las-esque unsanc­tioned drug ring after that, but it nev­er mate­ri­al­ized. That’s what the film excels at, the imma­te­r­i­al expec­ta­tion, there are shad­ows in the Lon­don fog, but noth­ing clear­er, even for those used to walk­ing its streets, innit?