The Long Good Friday: A Prophecy

The Long Good Friday: A Prophecy

The London of Harold Shand has long since departed. The Docklands have been replaced by luxury apartments and the City of London trumped the factories and warehouses of the East End. The city now has an international flare that has replaced the working class London that the film depicts. The criminal world of London depicted in The Long Good Friday is now as likely to be dominated by numerous nationalities from every corner of the globe.

Shand, a native of Stepney, rules the London underworld with an iron fist with a support cast of Razors, Jeff and Victoria. But he wants to leave his criminal past behind and go into the legitimate business world. He's invited a potential investor, Charlie, an American Mafiosi, to London to finance the development of London's docks. But an unforeseen battle is being planned under Shand's very nose. One of his closest friends, Colin, has travelled to Belfast to deliver funds to the IRA leadership on behalf of corrupt Councillor Harris. The money is short and three top IRA men are later arrested. When Colin is murdered at a London swimming pool, and the taxi driver that takes Colin to Belfast is found dead, and Shand's driver, Eric, is blown up outside the Church that Harold's mother is attending, Shand's world is altered in a way that even an ambitious gangster like him hadn't anticipated.

Shand begins the hunt for the perpetrators assuming they are jealous rival gangs. He turns to corrupt police officer, Parky, to find those responsible and Parky gives him the name of his top grass, Errol the Ponse from Brixton. Shand and Razors pay Errol a visit and, even after he's badly cut up by Razors, has nothing to tell Harold about who's behind the attacks on his Firm. As Harold continues to hunt the criminal underworld a bomb goes off in one of his pubs and an unexploded bomb is found at his casino in Mayfair. After the bomb explodes at the pub Harold gets his first inkling that there is Irish involvement in his troubles. The pub manager informs Harold that some 'hard looking Paddy's' had been into the pub looking for protection money and the camera stops on a nervous looking Jeff.

Harold uncovers the truth behind the war on his empire after Razors mentions to him about the day that Jeff was spat on during a funeral precession. Shand visits the widow of the murdered taxi driver who tells Harold that Jeff had hired her husband to drive Colin to Belfast. Harold confronts Jeff on his yacht and Jeff tells Shand the entire story. That he and Harris had been working with the IRA and that Colin had stolen five thousand pounds of the money meant for the IRA. After three of their top men are arrested the IRA have assumed that Shand has grassed them up and are out for revenge. Shand is disgusted at Jeff's betrayal and murders Jeff on his yacht.

Shand now goes to meet Councillor Harris who arranges a meeting with Harold's tormentors at a car race event. Shand takes sixty grand with him to 'end all this agro'. Whilst the IRA men are counting the cash a gunmen bursts in and shoots two IRA men and Councillor Harris dead with a shotgun. Shand, thinking his problems are over, arrives at the Savoy Hotel to carry on his business deal with Charlie but discovers that Charlie thinks London is a 'bad night in Vietnam' and is booked on the next flight back to New York. Shand, in a defiant mood, tells Charlie and his lawyer that they're pair of wankers and leaves the hotel. Calling Razors over Shand gets in his car that speeds off and Shand is met by two IRA men in his car one of whom is holding a pistol at Shand with Razors dead in the other car and Victoria being held captive. The film finishes with the camera staring in at Shand whose bitter acceptance of the fate that awaits him is visible in his face.

The Long Good Friday has gone down in British cinema history as the definitive gangster film. The criminal world represented by Shand, the political world represented by the IRA, the mid-level police and government corruption represented by Harris and Parky. The character of Victoria was a breakthrough. Not just a bimbo wife but a sophisticated business advisor to Harold. The film was almost a prophecy of the new world that was being created by entrepreneurs and the rise of free markets. Capitalism fighting its way through the world created at the end of the Second World War. This clash of values and ideologies is what makes The Long Good Friday the most intriguing crime film ever made. London has very much gone in Shand's direction.