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'The Long Good Friday'

I went to see The Long Good Friday because some reviewers have compared it with ''The Godfather'' and fawned over the performance of Bob Hoskins as a London thug with dreams of glory in gangsterland. What I found was a movie with flashes of wit and visual imagination -- all of it canceled by nastily violent outbursts, sadistic situations, and racist undertones. Such malevolence has become so commonplace in the movies that many viewers hardly seem to notice it any longer. This leads to pictures like ''The Long Good Friday'' being celebrated for minor virtues while major failings are casually minimized. Nobody , from filmmaker to ticket buyer, is served by such an attitude. Not even Bob Hoskins -- whose performance, by the way, is not quite what it's cracked up to be.

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