Paul Hardcastle’s “Just for Money” video paired Laurence Olivier & Bob Hoskins for the first and last time

By on July 12, 2016

In Night Flight’s “Take Off to Crime” — now streaming on our Night Flight Plus channel — you’ll see Paul Hardcastle’s “Just for Money,” the followup to his politically-charged hit single “19.”

Where “19” punctuated its beats with samples from archived news reports, “Just for Money” raised the stakes by featuring original performances from two of England’s greatest actors: Laurence Olivier and Bob Hoskins.

It would be the only time the performers appeared in the same project.

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Paul Hardcastle had previously released music under the names Direct Drive and First Light, and done remix singles for Third World and Ian Dury & the Blockheads. He had a minor U.S. hit in early 1985 with the instrumental “Rain Forest,” which repurposed the beat from “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force under tinkly synthesizer melodies: the song reached #57 on the Billboard Top 100 and went all the way to #5 on the R&B chart and #2 on the Dance Music chart.

However, no one was more surprised that Hardcastle himself when the stuttered-sample-heavy “19,” inspired after watching the ABC TV documentary Vietnam Requiem, became a worldwide hit. The video used the then-popular technique of “video scratching.”

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In an interview with Joe Evans for the website Ransom Note, he described the process this way:

“I was approached by Simon Fuller who was the junior A&R man at Chrysalis at the time…[he] was there with the whole A&R team including someone called Ken Grumbaum who was head of promotion. Only Ken and Simon got ’19,’ the rest of the A&R team were like as if Radio 1 is going to play this!. They didn’t see it. Did I see it myself? After what they said, maybe not. Simon said I reckon there might be something here, so why don’t I leave Chrysalis and become your manager. I didn’t really know what a manager did at the time, but in the end I thought lets do it. Five weeks later, we had thirteen number bloody ones!”

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For his followup, Hardcastle, with Simon Fuller’s brother Kim, came up with the concept for “Just for Money.” It was a song that, while having a musical chorus, would use spoken dialogue to tell a crime story.

They were partly inspired by the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, but mostly by the 1963 UK “Great Train Robbery,” where a 15-man gang robbed a Royal Mail train of 2.6 million pounds, equivalent to $62 million today.

Bob Hoskins, then best known for his breakout performance in The Long Good Friday, voiced the charming criminal luring Hardcastle’s protagonist into the big heist. And there was lots of surprise when it was announced one of the most acclaimed actors of all time, Laurence Olivier, would portray the narrator of this mini-saga.

Both of them appeared on camera in the promotional music video, lip-syncing their lines, though never sharing a scene together.

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Production photo courtesy of The Electricity Club

No specifics were given as to how Hardcastle had secured Olivier for his project, only that he reached him through a series of friends. But it was probably not difficult to recruit the beloved star. Suffering from multiple health problems for decades until his death, Olivier sought to work as much as possible in order to pay his medical bills and provide an inheritance for his family.

Thus, while he won an Emmy in 1983 portraying King Lear for Granada Television, he was also frequently appearing in less prestigious projects; before “Just for Money,” he played Rudolf Hess in the action film Wild Geese II.

He earlier told film critic Rex Reed, when both were cast in the infamous war melodrama Inchon, “Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I’ve earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I’ve got left.”

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Production photo courtesy of The Electricity Club

Hoskins, whose career was on the rise in comparison to Olivier’s period of twilight, was himself not at his best when the video was made. He was concurrently filming what would be his BAFTA-winning and Academy Award-nominated performance in Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, and production had run behind schedule, making him late for Hardcastle’s shoot.

Journalist Martin Townsend, who was on set to interview Hoskins, recalled, “[We were] in a disused gas-works on the Thames at Limehouse, East London, an area as yet untouched by the developers. It was late in the year and cold, and the gas-works, gutted and filthy with dust and dirt, was on a bleak and blowy stretch of the river…[Hoskins arrived] really tired and bad-tempered… too worn out to have his picture taken or talk to me.”

Hoskins’ mood dramatically improved over the course of shooting, and the scheduled interview took place, wherein he expressed to Townsend how much he enjoyed working in the company of great actors and musicians, telling him, “It means everything to me. That’s why I’ve done this for Paul tonight.”

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Music video director Matt Forrest and Bob Hoskins on the “Just for Money” set at Greenwich Gas Works, London; photo courtesy of Snapper Films

Despite the star power Hardcastle enlisted, “Just for Money” only reached #19 on the UK Pop chart, and failed to chart in America. The disappointing return sparked a major life change on the part of Hardcastle’s manager Simon Fuller.

Chrysalis founder Chris Wright details in his book One Way or Another, “The single simply didn’t have the special buzz of ‘19’ but Simon didn’t see things that way. He was so incensed at its lack of success that he picked up his toys in the form of Paul Hardcastle, resigned from Chrysalis and set up a company to manage Paul, calling it 19 Management…The rest is history. Simon went on to manage Annie Lennox, be the Svengali behind the Spice Girls, and make David Beckham the most famous footballer of his generation. He then launched ‘Pop Idol’ and ‘American Idol’ and is now one of the most successful and richest people in the history of the industry.”

Enjoy “Just for Money,” along with Tony Powers’ “This is a Heist” and Steve Purcell directing Prince protégées Madhouse in “10” (not available on any other video site), as part of Night Flight’s “Take Off to Crime,” right now on Night Flight Plus.

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About Marc Edward Heuck

Marc Edward Heuck is a writer and cultural historian best known as the Movie Geek from Comedy Central's "Beat the Geeks." He was an associate producer and researcher for Robert Rodriguez' "The Director's Chair" interview series on the El Rey network. He created the eclectic blog The Projector Has Been Drinking, and his screening series Cinema Tremens revived many rarely-exhibited films, featuring interviews with their creators and champions. He has recorded more than ten DVD commentary tracks, and has been a memorable guest on many podcasts. He cites discovering "Ladies and Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains" on "Night Flight" as one of the significant milestones of his cultural evolution.