Long Good Friday
by Donald Melanson
18 , 2006
| British gangster films have a long history, but the
most recent entries in the genre like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking
Barrels and Layer
Cake owe perhaps their largest debt to John Mackenzie's
brilliant film The Long Good Friday. And judging by the
"special explosive edition" packaging on it's latest DVD release,
Anchor Bay seems to be aiming this disc squarely at fans of those
The Long Good Friday was previously released as part of
the Criterion Collection, which should tell you something about
how highly it's regarded, but that release was non-anamorphic
and had no extra features beyond a pair of trailers. Anchor Bay
manages the rare feat of one-upping Criterion, offering not just
a great new anamorphic transfer, but a ton of extras as well.
But first a bit on the film itself.
Bob Hoskins stars as mob boss Harold Shand, a breakthrough performance
for him and one of the best of his career. Shand has proudly brokered
ten years of peace in London but suddenly someone seems to be
targeting him, murdering some of his close associates and barely
missing him at one occasion. Shand then sets out on a rampage
to find out who's got it in for him, no matter how powerful they
The supporting performances are also excellent all around --
especially Helen Mirren as Shand's girlfriend Victoria, and Eddie
Constantine (of Alphaville) as an American mafia boss.
Coming at the very end of the 1970s, The Long Good Friday
set the standard for some of the great crime films of the next
decade -- in particular one of my favourites, William Friedkin's
To Live and Die in L.A. And, of course, Brian De Palma's
Anchor Bay packs this new DVD to the brim, with a commentary
by Mackenzie and a nearly hour-long documentary on the film featuring
interviews with most of the key participants. The disc also includes
the film's U.S. and U.K. trailers, a poster and stills gallery,
a brief cockney slang dictionary, and the complete screenplay
in PDF format.
Donald Melanson is the
editor-in-chief of Mindjack and a freelance writer and journalist.
In addition to Mindjack, his work has appeared in The
Globe & Mail, Engadget,
and MovieMaker Magazine,
among other publications.