The Long Firm and a lovely bit of schmutter
The television adapatation of Jake Arnott’s The Long Firm, from 2004, is a fine piece of work – in fact the first three (of four) episodes are some of the best British television I’ve seen.
The series tells a set of stories concerning characters who are interlinked by their connection to Harry Starks – a gay “but not poofy” gangster who still adores a (now) broken Judy Garland and who is mired in his own personal and “work” problems that take in wayward lovers, corrupt Lords of the land, property deals gone bad…
The stories, as with much of Jake Arnott’s work, draw broadly from real life events and lives – the aforementioned past-her-peak Judy Garland, The Krays, Lord Boothby… but I think what it draws from mostly is the myth, glamour, corruption and stories of a London and Soho that is a character unto itself.
Ruby’s Story is a particular favourite, where Lena Headey plays a once minor film star, still all old school glamour in the face of the coming of swinging London and mini-skirt-ed upstarts. In it Ms Headey brings a swish and swirl of Diana Dors era style and a warm heart caught up in this appealing but actually very dark and hard world.
As an aside, below is the author of the original book, Mr Arnott, in a blink and you’ll miss him appearance during Ruby’s Story…
I think it would be fair to file The Long Firm alongside a set of films and television programs that have been pointers/touchstones for Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity in their representations of back-in-the-day Soho basement glamour (and grime); filed alongside suspects who are/no doubt will be familiar from around these parts The Small World Of Sammy Lee, The World Ten Times Over, Das Phantom Von Soho, Our Friends In The North etc.