The Long Good Friday is the best British gangster film ever made. The film, directed in 1979 by John MacKenzie almost wasn't seen in its original form when financiers ITC opted to re-edit the film to tone down its violence and remove a key element of the story involving the IRA. Luckily, the film was rescued by Handmade films who put the film out intact to great success.
At the centre of this film is Bob Hoskins playing the London crime lord Harold Shand who's got a serious vendetta on his hands, as he stands on the cusp of legitimizing his business empire with the acquisition of large sections of London dockland. Fans of Guy Richie will eat this up with its wide-boy Cockney slang and violence. The film includes a rather shocking throat slashing by broken bottle, and in perhaps a nod to the title of the film, one character is found nailed to the floor, crucifixion style. The film must be something of a Richie favorite - he would actually cast two members of the film - Alan Ford and P.H. Moriarty (in Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels).
For Hoskins who by 1979 was something of a veteran TV actor, The Long Good Friday was his major breakout role, and from his first scene in the film (memorably to the great theme music) owns the movie. Hoskins invests Harold Shand with great pathos as he walks the line between a proud Thatcherite entrepreneur to vicious mob boss; the latter best illustrated by a dazzling sequence in an abattoir as Shand gathers together all the prominent London hoods and reminds them in no uncertain terms of who's the boss. Also, look out for the justifiably famous climax of the film, a long wordless shot of Shand as he realizes that he now is on the wrong side of the meet hook.
My copy of the Anchor Bay R2 DVD features a rather soft transfer of the film, but carries an audio commentary by John MacKenzie. The DVD was later re-issued with largely the same transfer and commentary but with a 50-min feature on the making of the film. It was part of the Criterion collection in the US but has since been re-issed by Anchor Bay.