The Long Good Friday on Blu-ray
by Jef Burnham
Available on Blu-ray August 24, 2010 from Image Entertainment.
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In the late-1970s, George Harrison (yes, the Beatle) co-founded HandMade Films in order to help his pals, the Monty Python troupe, complete their picture Life of Brian when their original funding fell through. Harrison’s company would subsequently produce some of the most iconic films to come out of the UK in the 1980s. Now, Image Entertainment is bringing to Blu-ray for the first time in the U.S. four titles from this golden era of HandMade Films, including Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday, and Withnail and I, all of which I’ll be reviewing individually.*
As soon as Francis Monkman’s awesome late-70s score kicks in at the opening of The Long Good Friday, you know you’re in for a cool flick. And it delivers. Bob Hoskins stars as Harold Shand, head of “The Corporation,” a crime syndicate that controls London by simple virtue of Harold’s out-muscling all rival gangs. Looking to take The Corporation global and turn the London docks into a stage for the upcoming Olympics, Harold calls on the American mafia, flying them into London on the long, Good Friday in question. Unfortunately, this meeting takes place on the very day an unnamed force begins a bloody dismantling of Harold’s operation. With 24 hours to settle the score, Harold tears through the London underworld, struggling to contain his rage as he searches of a solution to this intense, gangster mystery.
The film also stars Helen Mirren as Harold’s wife and dedicated right-hand partner, Victoria, who Mirren imbues with a palpable strength and sophistication. Plus, you’ll notice a brief appearance by a VERY young Pierce Brosnan as 1st Irishman.
This release is certainly not the worst-looking of the four HandMade films being put out by Image, but it is not without problems. The image from the transfer, though crisp, with vibrant colors and a subtle grain, suffers from more than a fair amount of specks, scratches and other peculiar blemishes. On the other hand, the audio is terrific, really accentuating that Monkman score; and these are, as I mentioned in my other reviews, budget titles priced for pre-order at just over $12 on Amazon. So, in spite of these visual hiccups, I have to admit that The Long Good Friday on Blu-ray is a seriously solid purchase.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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