The British gangster film is a genre that has taken on a world of its own. Grey-tinged gritty streets, fast-paced cheeky dialogue and crime-ridden organisations thriving under the buzzing metropolis of London, have all shaped the ethos of gangland thrillers. Unlike their grandiose American counterparts, Brits tend to strive for realism; an exposé of a very real underworld, rather than a flashy Italian-American operation that centres on family values. Realism doesn’t mean doom and gloom, though. Behind the grittiness is acerbic British wit as dry as London’s finest gins – it’s not all geezers and cockney rhyming slang, you know.
As the genre continues to evolve, most recently with the upcoming release of nail-biting thriller Tango One available on digital download from 5th March and DVD from 19th March, we’re taking a look at the best British gangster films, past and present, which have influenced the genre and made it into what we know and love today:
The Long Good Friday (1980)
Where better to start? The Long Good Friday is a quintessential British crime classic. From the second you hear the emphatic synth soundtrack opening the film and see Bob Hoskins at his rip-roaring best; you know you’re in for a treat. Hoskins plays Harold Shand, a successful cockney mobster with a yacht, penthouse and an intelligent mistress (Helen Mirren).
When a series of bombs go off at a vital turning point for his empire, Shand is convinced that there must be a traitor among his ranks and he will find out – through any means necessary. The film that paved the way for others like it, The Long Good Friday is one of the most influential thrillers to have graced British cinema.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.