The Long Good Friday (Umbrella Ent) (1980)
Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Trailer-US and UK
|Year Of Production||1980|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (67:25)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||John Mackenzie|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It is the end of the 1970s and Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) is the boss of the London "corporation", a loose arrangement of London's organised crime firms that fell out of gang wars a decade earlier. With the police in their pocket, in so much as they are left to enforce justice amongst themselves, everything has run smoothly and, as far as the public are concerned, safely for as long as the corporation has run the scene. That all changes one long Good Friday.
On the eve of the Easter holiday, Harold arrives back home to London following a series of meetings with mafia types in New York. In what is set to be the biggest deal of his life, Harold is laying the foundations to open a major casino backed by mafia money as well as his own. Two of the Americans have come back with him to finalise the deal, but a series of brazen bomb attacks on Shand's properties and people mean that Harold has to leave them in the capable hands of his socialite partner Victoria (Helen Mirren) while he sorts it all out. As Victoria struggles with the yanks and a conniving alcoholic city councillor come property developer, Harold turns over the London underworld trying to figure out who has it in for him and his deal of a lifetime.
The Long Good Friday is considered by many to be the pinnacle of British gangster flicks and it is easy to see why. Rather than simply being a cocksure exercise in style, as is the case with many of the the Guy Ritchie-era gangster flicks, The Long Good Friday presents a rich set of fleshed-out characters rolling around a stylish action extravaganza. Harold Shand, in particular, is a brilliant character; a cool, collected tough-guy exuding bravado when he is in front of the gang, but a weary, uncertain chap with a fiery temper behind closed doors.
There are a huge number of familiar faces in small parts. Then unknown Pierce Brosnan appears in a few key scenes as a mysterious assassin. P. H. Moriarty and Alan Ford, who are best recognised as Guy Ritchie's go-to bad guys, are prominent members of Shand's crew. A pre-teen Dexter Fletcher even appears briefly as a shifty young extortionist.
The story is brilliantly plotted and unfolds at a gripping pace. The action scenes are great, good old fashioned live explosions and nothing elaborate. The ending is particularly memorable, arguably one of the most memorable scenes in British film. Above all else, the film has aged particularly well thanks in part to its willingness to incorporate themes that were virtually taboo at the time (particularly that of a gay associate of Shand's) and to do so without sensationalising them. The Long Good Friday is a genuine classic.
The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, slightly fuller than the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and if 16x9 enhanced.
The video looks good considering the film's age, but is far from flawless. The video is clear and largely free of film artefacts, but the image is little soft and the colours look slightly faded. There is a good level of detail in darker scenes, but these scenes brighter than they should be and many of the blacks look like very dark greys.
Aliasing is noticeable in some of the big pans across the London skyline. Edge enhancement is a little too noticeable in a couple of scenes. As negative as this sounds thus far, by and large the video looks good. It is really only a handful of scenes that let it down at all. The image is free of significant macro blocking artefacts.
This is a RSDL disc with the layer break occurring at 67:25, which was not noticeable on my equipment.
The film features a single English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track. Unfortunately, it is a prime example of how not to convert a 2.0 track to surround sound.
The dialogue is very much planted front and centre and is particularly soft in comparison to the other elements of the soundtrack. The dialogue itself is relatively discernable, though a little muddy, but is frequently overpowered by the music and effects.
There is a noticeable background hiss present throughout the whole feature, as well as the occasional mild crackle. The hiss gets particularly noticeable whenever the music ramps up. Quit a shame when you consider that Francis Monkman's brilliant prog-rock come orchestral score is a highlight of the film.
The surround speaker usage is horrible. The signal to the surrounds more or less just echoes the front speakers and is FAR TOO LOUD. The subwoofer barely gets a bump in the mix and adds nothing distinct to the mix.
|Surround Channel Use|
The director and star provide ten minutes of introductory story behind the film and proceed to answer a swag of questions about the film, recorded preceding the first screening of a restored print some years ago. This is great feature well and truly makes up for the lack of "making of" material as it candidly covers the notoriously rocky road that the film had to release, as well as the controversy surrounding the heavily edited US version (which Bob Hoskins prevented being released through a court injunction) as well as anecdotes about the evolution of the film during production.
The dramatically different US (exciting) and UK (dry, bland) theatrical trailers are present. The two make for intriguing comparison as they each paint the film very differently, though each is fairly accurate in their portrayal of the film.
The Region 1 Criterion edition is a dud and should generally be avoided. It features only the two trailers found on this Region 4 edition in the way of extras, a mono soundtrack an a non-anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer.
The UK edition, which is formatted Region 0, is the pick of the bunch across all regions. Whilst it misses the two trailers found on this Region 4 edition it does feature the same interview found on this edition as well as various film notes, a commentary track with director John Mackenzie, a booklet, photo gallery and a preferable 2.0 stereo soundtrack.
Call it the benchmark for British gangster films, as well as Bob Hoskins' defining role. This classic holds up remarkably well today.
The video presentation is decent, but shows the film's age somewhat. The audio is an abomination - a fine example of how not to do a 5.1 remaster.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|