The Long Firm (TV Mini-Series 2004– ) Poster

(2004– )

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Superior, classy drama
romolafan30 September 2004
BBC2's The Long Firm, starring "Our friends In the North" actor Mark Strong, was full of suspense, humour and tension. Lena Headey, Derek Jacobi and Joe Absolom provide a strong supporting cast, but it is Strong in the role of 60s Mob boss Harry Starks which steals the show. Harry is an East-End, working-class, homosexual, Jewish mobster, who is striving for acceptance in London. Based on Jake Arnott's book of the same name the dramatisation has been true to the original version and leading cast members met up with Arnott several times on set to discus their characters and the story. This is obvious because it's brilliant. Definitely worth watching. A well-acted, well-scripted, well-directed production.
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10/10
In the final analysis: Jolly good.
Oren Menache20 October 2005
Fantastic!

An authentic image of a gangster and a beautifully conveyed story. Brilliant acting; especially Mark Strong's emotional and moving character. A delicate balance of drama, thrill and violence. It's the plot that kept me watching till 3 O'clock in the morning. The four characters telling their own story in each episode is a marvelous film-noir touch. A masterpiece by novel writer, Jake Arnott, brought thrice as powerful by the conversion to visual which was done perfectly. Not a single boring moment, and not for one second does it lose it's authentic aura. A must-see series.
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Superb
Elliott Payne7 August 2004
I would like to disagree with any previous comments on The Long Firm. I think this is an outstanding drama. The BBC should invest more money into dramas of this quality instead of spending money on D.I.Y shows and 'reality' TV shows.

Mark Strong's portrayal of Harry Starks reminded me Ronnie Kray, Reggie Kray, Charlie Richardson all rolled into one. He was excellent as the 'Torture Boss'. He was menacing and unpredictable but also you sort of saw him as a anti-hero if you like.

The program has taken large chunks of dialog from the book and had extra scenes and stuff written around it. All though I originally thought the show was excellent but after reading the book the book is out of this world a solid 10/10. I would recommend this book to everyone.

I am hoping the following two books in the sequence 'He Kills Coppers' and 'True Crime' get made into series.
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Instant Classic
Theo Robertson3 August 2004
The BBC rest on their past reputation . There's little good I can say about the BBC in the 21st century as they force feed us TV dinners of quiz shows , hidden camera shows and DIY shows , recipes that leave TV critics like myself under nourished . But my compliments to whatever TV chef cooked up THE LONG FORM for our televisual delight

Mark Strong plays Harry Starks a homosexual gangster in 1960s London .

Episode 1 ) Harry and his new boyfriend travel to Nigeria to pull off a scam

Episode 2 ) Harry tries to set up a club while his new boyfriend Tommy has a sexual relationship with starlet Ruby Ryder

Episode 3 ) A rent boy is found murdered and mutilated so Harry tries to track down his killers

Episode 4 ) Newly released from prison Harry tries to start a new life in Spain with a limp wristed criminologist

That's the premise of each episode but it's impossible to describe how well they play out on screen . For much of the episode Harry is off centre and it's the supporting characters that carry the audience through the story . It also has a wonderful sense of dark humour like the bit where an obviously stoned Judy Garland tries to sing only to have the club goers pelt and boo her , or the scene where Harry is described as a deviant by a criminologist : " Deviant ? Deviant ! - Calling me a f***in' nonce ! "

This show has you laughing out loud one minute and curling your toes the next with some graphic violence because there's nothing Harry enjoys more than tying someone up in a chair and inflicting violence on them usually with a white hot object

There's little negative I can say about THE LONG FIRM . I could be pedantic and point out small errors like the episode set in 1967 has a clip from a DOCTOR WHO story from 1968 but that would be cruel . The ending is slightly disappointing but nothing is perfect and expect this show to pick up a major amount of awards at next years BAFTA's

And if the BBC can produce drama of this quality then why do we have to put up with a unfufilling TV diet of garbage ? The BBC can still make classic drama when it wants to . I guess they just don't want to
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More 60s gangsters - but these are really scary
gray43 August 2004
A fascinating four-parter, centred on London gangland boss Harry Starks, and starting in the 1960s. The episodes are uneven, and occasionally implausible, but the series is made unmissable by the looming presence of Mark Strong. He is more than a scary thug, though he is terrifying in that role. At times he is stoical, and even tender, so that you can even feel sorry for him. He is countered by Derek Jacobi as a corrupt peer, drawn into Harry's half-baked schemes, with a splendid cameo by Phil Daniels as pathetic drug-dealer.

The London and Essex settings are excellent, capturing perfectly the glamour and seediness of '60s clubland. When Harry goes further afield, to Nigeria and then Spain, it is a lot less convincing. But overall a great series, well worth looking out for.
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10/10
A bit of Harry in all of us
rangert427 March 2005
Have you ever wanted to lead a politician around by the nose and have the upper crust of society come to your place for drinks? Have you ever wanted to tell your father to sit down and be nice to the rest of the family? Have you ever wanted to control a beautiful woman of undeniable attraction? Have you ever wanted to kick the crap out of someone that did you or one of your friend's wrong? Have you ever wanted to hunt down and destroy someone that did you or a close friend a deep injustice? Then you'll know exactly what kind of person Harry Starks really is and where he fits into society. Harry is you. Harry is me. Harry is the meanest and yet the meekest member of society. Harry is truly a person of myth and legend. Harry is the person you most want to be and yet the person you fear the most. If you are his friend, then he is the best friend in the world. If you are his enemy, then you really have no friends in the world. You either have to love Harry with all your heart or hate him for the gangster he is. This is a truly wonderful, exciting TV series and I hope that you will watch it to find out if you love Harry or hate him.
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9/10
a great insight into the British underworld of the 1960's
daworldismine5 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
this brilliant four part epic is a true masterpiece and a must see for anybody who likes gangland movies and TV series, the 1960's come alive here and you never question the era your in. but the best thing about the long firm is mark strong's portrayal of harry starks he's both charming and scary and one of the best performances iv'e seen in a British gangland tale, and him bieng homosexual is another great layer to this character that mark strong makes his own, the rest of the cast are great too, but this is mark strong's show and he owns it. the story is told from four peoples points of view, all recalling an event with harry starks that changed their life for ever. the writing is brilliant the directing top notch and the cast first rate, their is undeniably some inspiration from the krays here, and obviosly bieng set in the underworld expect some violence and swearing but its all done classy, thats what i love about the long firm its better than it thinks it is, a masterpiece and a must see
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Somewhat disappointing
LewisJForce29 July 2004
I tuned in to 'The Long Firm'" with high hopes. A modern historical drama starring the excellent Mark Strong looked promising, bringing to mind memories of 'Our friends in the north' - one of the best TV dramas of the past 20 years. Having now seen the fourth and final episode, I have to say that, although it was entertaining and extremely well-made, I was more than a little disappointed.

I am loathe to criticise ambitious drama like this in the light of the soapy dreck that constitutes the vast majority of British televisual output. However, 'The Long Firm' promised more than it delivered. And its faults lay firmly with the writing.

Each episode used a different narrator to relay details of their associations with the main character, London gangster Harry Starks. The technique proved clumsy, with the voice-overs unsubtle and unenlightening. Why employ such a method if ultimately the insights are all the same? More friction needed to exist between what we saw and what we heard for it to work. Like too much modern drama, the approach didn't transcend its stylistic facility.

In the same vein, character development and the attendant psychological underpinnings (e.g. gangster as thwarted celebrity/entertainer) were clichéd and overly familiar. The final episode, in particular, was embarrassingly heavy-handed in its satire of the counter-culture and academia. In general there was too much pastiche and caricature to allow real interest. Any emotional impact generated by these people was purely down to the skill of the actors and the director. Also, I haven't read the source novel by Jake Arnott, but I am presuming that it made a more profitable and resonant use of the metaphorical title. Here, it was explained briefly in episode one and then thrown away.

Ultimately, each episode proved highly watchable but somehow unsatisfying, leaving this viewer to assume that we were building to some revelation/twist/new insight that never came, the screenwriter happy to fashion the piece into little more than a summation of period iconography/psychology.

There was much to enjoy, though. The piece was extremely well-cast, mixing a few expected-but-impressive veterans with a lot of talented but lesser-known faces. Mark Strong proved to be a commanding linchpin as Starks, bringing charisma and nuance to the role. Also notable were Lena Headey's Ruby Ryder, the excellent George Costigan, and Shaun Dingwall as Harry's biographer. The period detail and mise en scene were nicely understated and entirely convincing, and there were nice, ballsy touches like the interpolation of footage from the 'Parkinson' show. Additionally there were a few welcome surprises on the contemporaneous soundtrack, such as Janice Nicholls' novelty hit 'I'll give it five'. Or 'Oi'll give eet foive!'.

Perhaps I expected a little too much from this piece. I walked away reasonably entertained but with an air of opportunities unfulfilled.
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5/10
Good, but could have been better!
buiger15 February 2010
This series starts off very well, then slowly winds down to a relatively boring and predictable 'normality' after the first two episodes. One thing this series has going for itself is excellent acting throughout, but especially Mark Strong is utterly believable and chilling as Harry Starks. This is one of the best performances I have ever seen for a TV series, well done!

I have not read the book, but I believe more could have been extracted from it, and a longer (and better) mini series could have emerged as a result. In any case, not a bad 4-episode novel adaptation, initially very original and innovative, but just don't expect too much overall.
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6/10
A firm you'd want to be in.
so_cold1 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Based on Jake Arnott's book of the same name. The TV series of the long firm is an asset to any DVD collection. It follows the story of Harry Starks, the temperamental club owner trying to make it big in the sixties, but he's well ahead of his time. His up's and downs are shown through his friends and acquaintances. Teddy, who Harry helps out of a Jam but he wants something in return, Ruby, who's husband goes to prison, but finds solace with Harry's down-trodden, confused boyfriend Tommy. There's also Jimmy's story ,a dealer who can't get over his wife's death and helps Harry solve a mystery, and Lenny, who finds himself teaching Harry all he knows, and ends up with nothing as a result.

All the cast are terrific in their roles, especially Mark Strong as Harry starks. He can be friendly yet menacing, manipulative but careless, destructive but fragile all at the same time. There's also a scene with Harry and his father that's complete scene stealer. Each episode is unmissable.
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Good Drama
rtaylor90019 July 2004
The Long Firm is good but unfortunately it seems to be a semi documentary based on a mixture of the Krays and the Richardsons who are just old hat now. It's a pity, but just like most rubbish British films featuring the 60s such as "Scandal", "Charlie" and "The Krays" that were really terrible films. The Long Firm it is full of stuff nicked from those turkeys and suffers badly by it's obvious likeness. I haven't read the book so I won't comment on whether the author realized his main character Harry is a ridiculous stereotype.

It has all been done before but TLF does it better. The torture scenes(The Krays and Charlie), Phil Daniels popping pills and remorsing on throwing a woman out of the car(Jack the Hat in The Krays) the nightclub scenes (Scandal) it contains too many characters like Barbara Windsor, Ronnie Knight,Johnny Ray, Joe Meek, Brian Epstien like you were reading a 60s gossip column. So who is Harry Starks based on, who knows but his Mum and aunty May have been seen before just like all the other characters.

The Long Firm screenplay could have been written by anybody who has watched The Biography Channel and seen Scorsese's "Goodfellas" and the movies mentioned previously. It is very well produced and directed and all the actors are great especially Mark Strong who excels and is destined for Hollywood.

The Long Firm is far better than any of the Brit movies mentioned previously but it could have been a lot better if hadn't been so unoriginal and predictable.
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