April 1, 2021
Prophetic, frenetic and shockingly brutal, the film became a British classic. For its 40th anniversary, Mirren and other cast members relive their roles in the menacing gangland masterpiece
It has been 40 years since the release of The Long Good Friday, a gangster film still revered as one of the best British movies of all time. Shot in London in the late 1970s and starring the late Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, it told the story of an underworld boss trying desperately to stop the IRA from dismantling his empire.
The backdrop for the film was the London Docklands, then mostly undeveloped. With corrupt city planners in his pocket, Hoskins’ character – the pugnacious, barrel-chested Harold Shand – attempts to woo the New York mafia into a partnership to transform the area, selling the idea to them with a speech during a trip up the Thames on his yacht. “Our country is not an island any more,” he snarls. “We’re a leading European state. And I believe this is the decade in which London will become Europe’s capital … no other city in the world has got, right at its centre, such an opportunity for profitable progress.”