Goodbye, Harold Shand
‘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.