Goodbye, Harold Shand

Great Britain

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‘I’m not a politician – I’m a businessman. And I’m also a Londoner.’

Harold Shand’s gravel-voiced speech on the prow of his yacht as it passes Tower Bridge is the stuff of British film legend, along with the closing speech from ‘Withnail & I’ or the opening monologue from ‘Trainspotting’ – there aren’t too many of them in our canon, sadly.

Bob Hoskins has died too young at 71, after a memorable career in movies. While I enjoyed him in films like ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’, for me his peak came in ‘The Long Good Friday’, when he played Harold Shand as something much more than a mere gangster, as the unacceptable face of Thatcher’s capitalism.

Hoskins’ swagger, his eye-flicking wariness, his outbursts of violence all felt extraordinarily real, and made this the best British gangster film of all time. Here – spoiler alert – is his closing speech in which he calls the visiting Mafia don a wanker. It’s a gem – and yes, that’s who you think it is with the gun, in his very first film.

5 comments on “Goodbye, Harold Shand”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    Hummmm… Roger Moore?

  2. Scott says:

    Daniel Craig?

  3. Rob says:

    Absolutely agree. THE best British gangster movie of all…closely followed by Get Carter and Brighton Rock…but still out there on its own with a cast with some of the next decade’s big soap opera faces – in their best roles and Bob certainly in his. Rumour a few years ago about a Ray Winstone remake/sequel as a TV series. Much as I’d like to revisit Harry’s world – can’t see anything working….

  4. Mike Cane says:

    @Dan – Pierce Brosnan.

  5. steve says:

    Terrific film, not sure that I’d agree that its the best british gangster film but certainly one I could watch any time from any point along the story. I think that Hoskins was a better actor than he was given credit for and I’m surprised that he didn’t get more and better known work. Altogether now… “There’s been an eruption!”

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