The Long Good Friday John Mackenzie

The Long Good Friday John Mackenzie
Britain’s greatest gangster film gets the deluxe treatment on a budget release. A superb director’s commentary, a smart retrospective featurette, the screenplay by Barrie Keefe, plus clever extras such as the Cockney slang gallery are packed on a DVD that rivals any deluxe double-dipper at half the price. In a rare reversal, Anchor Bay’s version trumps the expensive yet bare bones Criterion release. The Long Good Friday is the Godfather of UK cinema. Its influence has been felt on that side of ocean but has been limited to a devout cult following on these shores. Keefe’s script is a Shakespearean tragedy about London kingpin Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins’ breakout role) who tries to graduate from gangster to legit businessman with a huge deal with a New York financier over Easter weekend. However, his empire suddenly implodes: bombs explode around him, his lieutenants are murdered one by one and no one knows why. Harold depends on strong wife Victoria (Helen Mirren’s breakout role as well) and left-hand man Jeff (Derek Thompson) to find the culprits before the New York money backs out. Even corrupt cops and politicians can’t help Harold, who eventually discovers that he has a Judas in his ranks. The 50-minute "Bloody Business” retrospective interviews the key creators nearly 30 years after the film’s 1979 release. It focuses on those whose careers the film launched: Hoskins and Mirren but also future Bond Pierce Brosnan, Paul Barber (The Full Monty) and a young Dexter Fletcher (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). "Bloody Business” minimises the back-slapping that trivialises most retrospectives and offers true morsels of information: the original title was changed for giving away the film’s secret, Mirren fought to elevate her role from airhead moll to sophisticated wife, and the opening sequence was drastically pared down. The Long Good Friday qualifies as one of the smartest DVD purchases in a long, good time. (Anchor Bay)