While not as well-known as some other gangster movies over the years, The Long Good Friday is still my favourite. Bob Hoskins plays a British gangster who starts out at the top of his world, about to close a deal with an American crime group. Unfortunately for him, someone in his group has pissed of the IRA, causing them to systematically target his own organization.
While Helen Mirren as his wife is also excellent, this is definitely Hoskins’ movie. He doesn't appear until nine minutes in but then he completely takes over the movie. As Strand he tries to find out exactly what happened to make his group (and thus himself) a target for the IRA, while trying to salvage his relationships with the Americans, who understandably become less interested in closing the deal as people start dying. Strand himself is not above using brutal methods to try to find out what’s happening. But what makes his character so fascinating is his force of will. While he’s definitely shaken by the IRA deciding to destroy his group and everyone in it, he remains a force to be reckoned with, never breaking down. No matter how bad things get he remains a proud man.
Also featuring Pierce Brosnan in what is reportedly his first role, though the Internet Movie Database indicates he had quite a few roles in his inaugural year. His role in the movie is small but pivotal, and certainly his role as Remington Steele and from there James Bond likely stemmed from his cold assassin character here.
Again though, it’s because of Bob Hoskins as Harry Strand that you might find yourself revisiting the Long Good Friday again and again, and likely certain scenes in particular, such as his final scene in the movie. Well that and one other aspect: it has what is probably one of the ten catchiest theme tunes of all time. No review would be complete without mentioning Francis Monkman’s compelling theme tune.