The Long Good Friday is generally acknowledged as being one of the all-time classic British gangster films.
At its heart lies a central contradiction, as anti-hero Harry Shand (played by Bob Hoskins) mourns the loss of the close-knit communities of his childhood, while at the same time is planning to profit from the redevelopment of this depressed area of London. The film also brings into sharp contrast the paradoxical notion that security can only be ensured by exercising a reign of terror.
The first casualty of the impending mayhem is Harry’s beloved metallic gold Rolls Royce (registration: HS 10). He is therefore consigned to spend the rest of the film being driven in his back-up vehicle, a rather more tasteful series 2 Jaguar XJ saloon, looking particularly sleek in its gleaming black paintwork.
The unmistakeable profile of a Princess, providing transport for corrupt police officer “Parky”, who Harry has firmly in his pocket. In the language of dramatic imagery, the fact that this car is also black speaks volumes. It makes several appearances in the film, but is always lurking in the background, while the villains’ cars seem to take centre stage.
While the camera waits for an actress to emerge from the back of an undertaker’s black Ford Granada, a far more interesting Rover SD1 slinks past almost unnoticed in the background. Incidentally, the next car to pass by is that familiar black Princess…
|What’s the damage?
Harry meets up with Parky in an open-sided dockside warehouse to survey the wreckage of his Roller, and discuss their next move. Behind them stands a police Range Rover, while just out of shot are Harry’s Jaguar and Parky’s Princess.
|“Which one’s Errol’s ‘ouse?”
Harry and his mob arrive in Brixton looking for Errol, whom they suspect of being a grass. In this scene, Harry’s appropriately-named henchman, Razors (who has ways of making people talk) confronts one of Errol’s neighbours, as the poor chap’s concerned friends observe the scene from a safe distance, gathered around a 1960s Mini.
Razors (left) and cohort Jeff depart from the hapless Errol’s place, having left him in need of casualty. And that’s exactly where Jeff (or rather, actor Derek Thompson) would end up, in the role of Charlie Fairhead in the popular BBC series of that name. And the Mini was clearly the car to have if you lived in Brixton circa 1980: here, a purple example sits parked behind the gang’s Jaguar.
Harry’s favourite pub, the Lion and Unicorn, has just been blown up, showering debris over the cars parked outside… including yet another Mini. This time it’s an archetypally Seventies Wood & Pickett version – complete with characteristic nudgebars and rear wiper – which had arrived on the scene just minutes before the blast.
|“It’s indecently abnormal!”
OK, so Harry was talking about his adversaries having the audacity to blow up his favourite pub, as he leaves the scene of the explosion with bent copper Parky. But he might just as easily have been passing comment on the decidedly quirky styling of the Allegro estate – a mere innocent bystander in this shot.
|Bangers and smash
What else but a 1960s Farina saloon would do for the serious banger racer of the time – especially if it was an upmarket variety. Not much left of this one, seen here as it is about to be put into a spin by another rampaging car. One can only wonder at how many of these old barges must have ended their days on the banger tracks over the years.
This page was contributed by Declan Berridge