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The Long Good Friday (1979)

The Long Good Friday, considered one of the best British gangster flicks, takes the classic story of hubristic downfall and sets it in late-seventies London. Bob Hoskins plays Harold Shand, a gangland kingpin trying to “go legit” by investing in some shorefront property which will one day host the Olympics. After a trip across the Atlantic to meet with his American gangster counterparts, he brings them back to East London where he hopes to convince them to invest with him in the shorefront property.

That’s when things go wrong: his henchmen start dying and his local haunts get blown up, raising doubt in the Americans about the security of their potential investment. Harold Shand, in an interesting twist, turns from gangster to detective, and ruthlessly investigates all his known associates. Some unforgettable ultra-violence ensues, as he hangs his suspects on meat hooks, stabs his right-hand man in the throat with a broken Scotch bottle, and eventually discovers that it’s all been a misunderstanding. But it’s too late, and he’s in over his head, against the law and against none other than the IRA. Drunk on power and a thirst for revenge, Harold Shand’s arrogance finally proves to be his Achilles heel.

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