Mona Lisa (1986): Starring Bob Hoskins

Premiering in competition at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, Neil Jordan’s “Mona Lisa” boasted a strong performance from Brit actor Bob Hoskins as George, a recently released from prison convict, who had taken a fall for his nasty boss, Mortwell (Michael Caine, who made five films that year), for which he had served 7 years in jail.

Upon release, George is assigned by Mortwell to a new job, escorting (and protecting) Simone (Cathy Tyson, British model and niece of actress Cycley Tyson), a gorgeous black call girl to her various assignations, some of which prove dangerous. Lo and behold, like a fairy tale from hell, the frog George falls for the princess Simone, not realizing some secrets from her past, including her sexual orientation and emotional involvement.

A major part of the story concerns Simone’s search for her true love, Cathy (Kate Hardie), a teenage prostituite who had once worked for the same pimp. This subplot inevitably led critics to compare the film with Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (De Niro rescuing Jodie Foster from Harvey Keitel and a life of prostitution) and Paul Schrader’s “Hardcore,” wit George C Scott as the concerned father of a young whore.

 
Oscar Nominations: 1
 
Actor: Bob Hoskins
 
Oscar Awards: None
 
Oscar Context:
 
In 1986, the winner of the Best Actor Oscar was Paul Newman for Scorsese’s “The Color of Money,” in a contest that included Dexter Gordon in “‘Round Midnight,” William Hurt in “Children of a Lesser God,” and James Woods in Oliver Stone’s political drama, “Salvador.”
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