June 13, 1986 [Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday]

I've seen Bob Hoskins play two types of gangsters, and he pretty much covers all the kinds the movies need. A few years back in The Long Good Friday he was the Kingpin--although still a bit of a blockhead, confident that his holdings--and his chin-thrust bearing--would carry the day. He was this close to being in an American gangster picture--but his New York mafia would-be partners saw in England what Michael Corleone saw in Havana: the unmitigated zeal of revolutionaries, willing to do anything but lose--and they hurried back to the Five Boroughs, leaving Bob's top-o-the-world bully-boy on his own, flummoxed by the IRA so willing to adjust the profit motive to suit larger, more explosive ideals.

As affable, lonely George in Mona Lisa, he still hasn't quite caught up with the conversation--but here at least he's ready to roll with the punches--even though Michael Caine knows how to hit, hard. George thinks he's in love--not the worst assumption, given the high-class charms of the call girl he drives around. But she has lived her own life, and it doesn't include his. As he stands there with his flowers--almost pathetic, just on the verge--he gets a whole lot smarter than his Long Good Friday counterpart and wakes up--or at least settles in--and decides his loneliness is his own after all, not something any slender lady--no matter how much she may need rescuing--has given him, or can take away. I admire the barrel-chested little bull and the way he turns aside just enough to go home.


  1. It's a long while since I've seen this film. You've awoken good memories of it. Perhaps it's worth another watch.

  2. Mona Lisa? It has its weaknesses, but Hoskins and Caine are solid--Hoskins especially good--and I do love the end for some reason.

    In some ways, The Long Good Friday is a "better" film--but both give you Hoskins in top form, charismatic and unpredictable. Not to get too literary, but he'd make a good Mr. Bloom for a movie version of Joyce's Ulysees: attuned to his appetites, vulgar but somehow also sensitive, always peering closely at the things around him, his nostrils open for a whiff of something tasty. As long as Bob can handle the Irish lilt.


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