The original title was "The Paddy Factor", but this was changed after fears that it would give away too much of the film's plot. After suggesting "Harold's Kingdom", "Havoc", and "Citadel Of Blood", the title "The Long Good Friday" was chosen, due to its similarities to Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye", and the Easter setting.
Bob Hoskins voice was dubbed over by a Wolverhampton actor, for fear Americans wouldn't understand his London accent. After Hoskins threatened to sue Jack Gill and British Lion (the original producers before HandMade bought the rights) the dubbing was removed. He was supported by Richard Burton, Sir Alec Guinness, and Warren Beatty.
The reason Francis Monkman's score is so loud during the final scene, drowning out any noise, is because Director John Mackenzie was giving constant verbal direction to Bob Hoskins the entire time, so as to guide his acting; due to sound levels on both sides needing to sync, the producers decided to mute the whole thing and put the score over it.
In her 2008 autobiography, "In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures", Dame Helen Mirren claims that it was at her insistence that her character "Victoria" was made into a more complex character, than just the stereotypical mob moll.
The famous final scene of the film was the first scene to be shot. Director John MacKenzie, who was driving, told Bob Hoskins the story and events of the film to come and filmed Hoskins reactions. Cinematographer Phil Meheux sat between the driver and passenger seat with a one thousand foot magazine attached to the camera, and filmed continuously until it ran out. As there was no room to light Hoskins in the interior of the car, Mehuex used a fifty watt light bulb (plugged into the cigarette lighter) on the end of the cameras matte box.
The film was picked up by George Harrison's Handmade Films, Ltd. after being slated for a television release by ITC. Upon viewing his newly-purchased production for the first time, Harrison said that he'd never have approved such a violent film had "Long Good Friday" began under Handmade.
The celebrated line: "There's a lot of dignity in that, going out like a raspberry ripple", was improvised by Bob Hoskins. The original line by Barrie Keeffe was "going out like a choc ice", but everyone agreed Hoskins' version was better.
Dame Helen Mirren's uncle George Dawson was a London gangster. She recalled that quite a few East End gangsters were extras in the scene where Harold rallies his troops. "I'd be all, 'Did you ever hear of my Uncle George?' 'What, George Dawson?', they'd say. 'Yeah! He went to jail you know."
Writer Barrie Keeffe drew on his experiences as a cub reporter for London's Stratford Express paper in the 1960s, when the Kray twins ruled the East End. He met a few criminals who ended up in small roles in the film.
Lew Grade was the original producer of the film, and it was to be an ITC film production (which he owned), but he pulled the plug when he realized the film's plot involved the I.R.A. The film was later picked up by George Harrison as Producer, and eventually released as a HandMade film production (which Harrison owned).
A version made for American audiences begins with the screen showing a glossary of Cockney and London mobster terms, along with their definitions, that are employed throughout the film. It has been suggested that this inspired Quentin Tarantino to begin Pulp Fiction with a written definition of "pulp fiction".
A sequel to this movie was announced in 1983. The opening scene was to be the final scene in this movie, with Harold Shand's abduction by the I.R.A. hitmen in the limousine, and is then rescued from his captors. The project came to nothing.
Two scenes in the film come directly from Barrie Keeffe's life: a widow lifting her veil and spitting in his face, and the story of a man being nailed to the warehouse floor. "I interviewed that man in the hospital," Keeffe remembers now, "and said 'What exactly happened?' He said, "Don't you understand English, son? It was a Do It Yourself accident went wrong!'"
Barrie Keeffe's first draft of the script was written in just three days, with the final version including contributions from Bob Hoskins, John MacKenzie, and Producer Barry Hanson. Living in a Greenwich flat at the time, Keeffe could see the derelict Docklands from his window, and his ideas entwined following a chance meeting with an Irish Republican in a pub. Gangsters against terrorism soon became a going concern.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Even though it appears that Pierce Brosnan and Bob Hoskins share a car near the end of the movie, neither actor was present when the other was captured in close-up (they each worked on a separate night), so Brosnan and Hoskins never did get to work with one another throughout the shoot.
In the scene where Harold Shand and Razors enter the town hall building to confront Councillor Harris, an additional scene was filmed when both characters enter Harris' office. In the deleted scene, Razors pins Harris against the wall, brandishing a previously concealed shotgun while Harold looks on. This deleted scene is included in the published script, but the filmed footage has never been included in any authorized released version of the film, and is believed lost. In the foreword to the published script, screenwriter Barrie Keeffe bitterly regrets this scene being deleted by the producers for length reasons, as he claimed it was his favorite scene of the entire movie.