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The Long Good Friday Reviews

A smooth and efficient film about some pretty rough characters, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY deserves its status a modern-day crime classic. Though not quite in the league of some other entries in the genre, the story of a crime boss and people out to get him delivers the expected goods. On "Good Friday" in early 1980s London, Harold (Bob Hoskins) learns that a unknown rival gang is killing off his henchmen. Harold fears less about his safety and more about his honor, however, and seeks to find out the culprit behind the murder of his men. Harold is especially eager to secure a deal with Charlie (Eddie Constantine), a Mafia don visiting from New Jersey, and worries that the murders will scare the money-man away. Harold and his men interrogate a number of underworld suspects, but they get few leads to the identity of the killers. After a near-fatal bomb attack on his American visitors, Harold steps up the pressure on his suspects to talk. Meanwhile, Harold's wife, Victoria (Helen Mirren), entertains Charlie and his lawyer at a restaurant, where they threaten to pull out of the deal unless she tells them what is going on. They then give Harold 24 hours to solve the mystery and stop the murders. THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY compares well to the American gangster films of the 1930s (SCARFACE, LITTLE CAESAR), which also documented the way tough, fearless working-class thugs could rise and fall as infamous criminals. Screenwriter's Barrie Keeffe's well-rounded, almost Shakespearean, characters serve the genre well, his plot gets involved but not overly perplexing, and John Mackenzie's direction possesses a sure touch. In some ways, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY presages Peter Greenaway's extraordinary THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER (1989), which also starred Helen Mirren as a criminal's trophy wife (or "moll"). Both films suggest a criticism of Margaret Thatcher's nouveau riche world order. Unfortunately, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY makes Harold's antihero a bit too cuddly and likable to compete with the thoroughly reprehensible thief (Michael Gambon) in the Greenaway picture. Thus, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY stops short of brilliant revisionism, but acquits itself admirably in most other ways.