The Long Good Friday (1981)

An East End underworld boss faces his greatest ever challenge in John MacKenzie’s iconic thriller, featuring a tour-de-force performance from Bob Hoskins.

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Alternative titles

  • The Paddy Factor Working
  • Racket Alternative


“This movie is one amazing piece of work, not only for the Hoskins performance but also for the energy of the filmmaking, the power of the music, and its sometimes very violent sense of humor.”
Roger Ebert,

Having played a romantic lead in his breakthrough role in Dennis Potter’s Pennies from Heaven (1978), Bob Hoskins proved his versatility with his superb turn as gruff gangland kingpin Harold Shand in this tense, gritty and terrifically assured thriller. Shand is playing a high-stakes game, trying to juggle his aspirations to business legitimacy with demands from the American mob and the IRA. A series of unanticipated attacks soon has him fighting for survival, with only his formidable girlfriend Victoria (Helen Mirren) remaining loyal.

Connecting the glamorous thuggery of the Kray twins to Thatcherite enterprise culture with visual and narrative ingenuity, The Long Good Friday proved prophetic in many ways, not least its striking use of soon-to-be-developed Docklands locations.

MacKenzie’s film belongs to British cinema’s rich heritage of gangster films, including Get Carter (1971), Mona Lisa (1986) and Sexy Beast (2000).

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