Sunday, 18 October 2015

Review: The Long Good Friday

I can't believe I haven't seen…

The Long Good Friday Poster

The Long Good Friday (1980)
Cert: 18 / 115 mins / Dir. John Mackenzie / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

And the award for the most jarringly intrusive incidental music goes to… Francis Monkman, for his work in repeatedly attempting the audible derailment of The Long Good Friday. The film's first act is fairly light on dialogue, so thankfully not too much of it is lost as Monkman's synths go full-belt to drown out shootings, stabbings and an exploding car. And in all fairness, it's not necessarily his music per se, but this film has one of the worst audio mixes I've heard in a long old time.

But from the fantastic archival value seeing of Paddington station when you could still drive cars in there, and London Docklands when it was still docks, all the way through to Bob Hoskins' rousing capitalist address sailing down the Thames, framed with Tower Bridge receding behind him, this is a truly iconic film. John Mackenzie's seminal British gangster flick is one of those movies I finally see that almost switches on a light, highlighting the previously unrealised (to me) influence on several of my other favourite flicks. In this case, the result was me thinking "Oh, so that's where Guy Ritchie got all his ideas from" (notwithstanding the number of Long Good Friday's cast he'd go on to purloin over the years). From a narrative point of view, I can also see the impression this has left on the Grand Theft Auto series. Again, not complaining one jot.

Mackenzie's assembled one hell of a cast to translate Barrie Keeffe's screenplay, with a swathe of character actors from the time, all of whom play things relatively downcast - with the exception of Hoskins, who ensures that not a single piece of scenery is left un-chewed by the time the credits roll (the beautifully drawn-out final scene being a case in point).

Fairly ordinary in a cinematic sense, but utterly magnificent in a historical/influential one, tLGF loses a point for its a few of its sensibilities being seemingly lifted from a Jim Davidson set.
But it gains a point back because one of these features in it:

Will patrons kindly refrain from blowing up half of London, even if it IS due to be rebuilt over the next ten years…

Have you really never seen this before?
Really, never.
It was always the sort of film that my Grandad had on the TV, late on a Saturday night. And while I could probably have got away with watching it when I was round there, I wasn't really that interested in my childhood. He had a thing for unflinchingly grim 70s and 80s thrillers, of which this is a defining example

So are you glad you've finally have?
Fuck, yeah.

And would you recommend it, now?
For a night in with a few beers, yes.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The film Harry Fielder as a policeman (albeit uncredited); the actor who also played a Death Star Trooper in the original Star Wars (albeit uncredited).
There's also Ralph Morse, who appears in the church congregation in The Long Good Friday (albeit uncredited). He appeared in The Empire Strikes Back as a Stormtrooper, Imperial Comms Officer and a Rebel soldier (albeit uncredited).

But if it's actual household-named, facial-recognition, evidence you're after, Paul Freeman appears here, and he played Belloq in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, opposite Harrison 'Solo' Ford. It's just not as cool as Harry and Ralph, somehow…

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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