As many of you know, I often get–oh how to put this–a little upsetÂ at the ignorance of others. This is only because my own gapingÂ ignorance is a continual wellspring of pain, shame and self-loathingÂ and you know how your worst traits are the most annoying thing aboutÂ other people. Honestly, this site is called Ruthless Reviews and only just the other day did I watch one of the most Ruthless motherfucking movies ever made. Long Good FridayÂ is a powerhouse of a good gangster flick, front loaded with two of theÂ finest performances you are ever likely to see. Bob Hoskins and HelenÂ Mirren just sizzle and compliment each other like few other onscreenÂ duos. He is all rage and strength; rash brutality, to her cunning,Â strategy and instinct for self-preservation. But again, I’m justÂ kicking myself that I have lived this long and not seen this film before now. And this film just turned twenty-five, so I really have no excuse. Ignorance…
I first heard about The Long Good Friday way back when Ruthless was getting going. One of the first films reviewed was the very, very Ruthless and enjoyable Sexy Beast. I became curious about British gangster flicks and was doing a little studying when I ran across something mentioning that The Long Good Friday was a predecessor and inspiration to Sexy Beast. Being an ignorant little shit, I was like, “yeah right.” Well people, the truth needs to be told. Sexy Beast ripped off one of its best scenes directly from The Long Good Friday. Â Remember when Don Logan landed in Spain and was marching through theÂ airport like a “Scud missile?” Just prior to when we first meet HaroldÂ (Hoskins), we see a Concorde docking at the terminal. Unlike Sexy Beast, which did sport a pretty decent albeit “retro” soundtrack, Harold struts–and I mean struts–throughÂ the airport to some bad-ass late seventies jazz/new wave that very muchÂ made me smile. Taking nothing away from Kingsley, but Harold looks likeÂ a cross between a pitbull and… and, well, another pitbull. Any of youÂ remember the scene in The Terminator when Ah-nold is lookingÂ for Reese and Sara in the parking garage and he scans back and forth,Â left and right, like a great white shark? Guess what Hoskins was doingÂ as he was making his way out of the airport? Checking every single cuntÂ out to see who wanted some.
While the rest of the cast was pretty great (especiallyÂ Mirren), please allow to just linger on Harold for a second. I mean,Â how can you not obsess over a character who says stuff like, ” I’llÂ have his carcass dripping blood by midnight?” Actually, Harold is a bitÂ more witty than that, a bit more eloquent. My favorite line of his,Â uttered with more disdain than most actors could conjure up in aÂ lifetime, was, “The Mafia? I’ve shit ’em.” I probably oughts to tellÂ you a bit about the plot of the film so as you have some point ofÂ reference. Harold runs London. Just simply runs the fucking place. Â Everybody is in his pocket and on the take. Especially it seems, theÂ police. He has some grand scheme to turn a bunch of abandoned docksÂ into a giant real estate development. To carry out his master plan, heÂ gathers not only London’s wealthiest denizens, but also a guy from theÂ New Jersey mob. However, trouble is a brewing, and on Good Friday, hisÂ Mum’s Rolls Royce gets blown up, killing the chauffer, his best friendÂ gets stabbed to death by Pierce Bronsnan (one of his very first roles),Â and a bomb is discovered at his casino. To further fuck up his scheme,Â as Harold is attempting to impress the Jersey mobster by taking him toÂ one of the former’s pubs (which he of course owns) it gets blowned up as they pull up.
The gest of the film involves Harold trying to figure out who isÂ throwing salt in his game, and why. He really is perplexed as theÂ following exchange of dialogue with his right hand man, “Razors,”illustrates:
Harold: Who’s having a go at me? Can you think of anyone who might have an old score to settle or something?
Razors: Who’s big enough to take you on?
Harold: Well, there were a few.
Razors: Like who?
Harold: Yeah, they’re all dead.
And try as he might, Harold just can’t figure it out. So he calls aÂ meeting of his goons (who he calls “The Corporation”) and instructsÂ them to round up all the gangsters in town not directly working forÂ him. This plan culminates in one of the most brutal shows of force everÂ captured on film. Harold’s men deliver the “suspects” to a slaughterÂ house in a refrigerated truck; bound gagged and hanging upside down onÂ meat hooks. One inside Harold simply tongue-lashes the helpless men andÂ I was positive we were about to get treated to a BritishÂ Valentines Day Massacre when the crooked police inspector shows up andÂ informs Harold that it is the IRA (or as Harold calls them, “theÂ pig-eyed Irish”) that is blowing his shit up all over town. You reallyÂ gots to see this movie, man.
Rarely do films inspire new RuthlessÂ (those things in the upper left corner of every page–hit refresh toÂ cycle through them/drive up our hits), but Harold not only deservesÂ one, but I might have to remove a few as they are so below par, inÂ comparison. HereÂs a small list of some of the more hyper-agro shitÂ Harold pulls. While bracing a “grass” (Brit-gangsta speak for anÂ informant/stool pigeon), Harold hands Razors a machete and the trulyÂ menacing henchman (P.H. Moriarty) begins slashing at the naked dude whoÂ can do little more than scream and keep both hands over his dick. OhÂ yeah! Before the knife fighting, Harold finds the grass in bed with aÂ woman. As Razors and another sidekick (Jeff, played by Derek Thompson)Â drag the naked man into the kitchen, Harold is brooding around the roomÂ and finds a heroin needle bedside. He starts commenting on how it usedÂ to be such a nice neighborhood. Then he looks at the needle and says,Â “Filth. Here have some more!” He then flings it at the naked doped outÂ chick like a dart. Fuck! I almost forgot that just before they get toÂ the grass’s house, they stop and ask a mechanic working under a carÂ which house it is. The mechanic says he does not know, so Razors kicksÂ the jack holding the car up out from under it. The mechanic manages toÂ roll out and he screams that Harold almost killed him, to which HaroldÂ answers, “I don’t like looking up a man’s nostril when talking to him.” Â Harold breaks a scotch bottle over a man’s head and then stabs him withÂ it in the neck. Repeatedly. And finally, there is the end of the film. Â I won’t explain why or how, but suffice to say, the entire last sceneÂ is just a close up of Harold; his face contorting and convulsing withÂ inspired anger and rage and it is oh so beautiful.
Special Ruthless Ratings:
- How’d you like them Cockney accents. This is one of the few movies made in the English language that would benefit
from subtitles. Apparently, for it’s American theatrical release, itÂ had ’em. Luckily, I’ve been to London enough to catch about 85% of whatÂ was being said.
- More about that soundtrack: It was just really great. I loveÂ music that was obviously thought of to be cutting edge at the time that
sounds shockingly dated now a days. Again, Fusion/Jazz/Rock/New Wave. Â Very 1980.
- You mentioned Helen Mirren briefly: Yeah, fuck, I shouldÂ have said more above. She almost steals the film from Hoskins, evenÂ though she has a quarter of the scenes he does. And she looked lovely,Â too. I agreed when Jeff told her, “I want to lick every inch of you.”
- Can you talk about the cars: Yeah, so like this is my newÂ fetish. Production designers in films often fuck up cars. The clothesÂ might be right or whatever, but the cars that the characters drive areÂ fucked. Sideways was the first film I saw where I noticed this, only Sideways got it right. A beat up old Saab convertible was the perfect car for Miles to drive, perfect. Likewise, in The Long Good Friday, a Rolls Phantom, a Jag XJ and a bright red Mercedes convertible with matching hub caps are absolutely spot on.
- Anything else: This movie kicks ass. Go rent it.