Q: Is it true they overdubbed Bob Hoskins' voice in "The Long Good Friday"? It sounds like his voice to me.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

It's not true, actually, but it almost was.

This may seem incredible, since it's now revered as a gangster film classic, but the producers of "The Long Good Friday" (1980) were pretty sure it would be a failure and were trying to cut their losses before it was even released.

They were afraid that star Bob Hoskins' thick, London accent would be unintelligible to other audiences, so they planned to bring in an actor with a slightly more proper accent to overdub his parts.

Hoskins was furious and sued the company to stop it. He drummed up support from some famous acting friends to back his case: Alec Guinness, Richard Burton and Warren Beatty all went on record insisting on the actor's right to keep his voice in the film.

Ironically, this legal fight might have been the thing that got the film released. Even before the suit, the production company, ITC, had doubts about the film. Hoskins' suit brought the attention of another company, Handmade Films (co-owned by former Beatle George Harrison), which bought the rights from ITC and released the film, with Hoskins' voice intact.

Hoskins' voice wasn't the only thing threatening the film's success -- it was also nearly sunk by politics. The film's plot involved Irish republican terrorists, but the real-world Irish Republican Army was intensifying its bombing activities around the time the film was being finished. ITC felt these real-world events would hurt the box office, so they wanted to "dump" it on TV instead of in the cinemas.

Fortunately, Handmade had no such concerns and gave the film a wide release. The film was, of course, a huge hit. It was received ecstatically by critics, too -- including American ones, who supposedly shouldn't have been able to understand the dialogue.


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