A juvenile offender (Sir Tom Courtenay) at a tough reform school impresses its Governor (Sir Michael Redgrave) with his running ability and is encouraged to compete in an upcoming race, but faces ridicule from his peers.
Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live.
During World War I, Army Private Arthur James Hamp is accused of desertion during battle. The officer assigned to defend him at his court-martial, Captain Hargreaves, finds out there is more to the case than meets the eye.
A rebellious youth (Sir Tom Courtenay), sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's (Sir Michael Redgrave's) prize runner.
Director of Photography Walter Lassally stated: "That was the only time I worked with (Sir) Michael Redgrave, who is a lovely man. Super, he's one of those typical Englishman, you know, super polite and a very good actor, but very low-key. I think he was perfectly cast in that as the headmaster of the borstal. See more »
When the boys are doing gardening work, one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). In one subtitled version, this is transcribed as "you muppet", but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made. See more »
Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
See more »
I caught this film late at night on cable, and it is the first movie I've seen with Tom Courtenay in it, who is excellent (Either by coincidence or design, King Rat was on only a few nights later).
I'd never heard of this film before, but I was immediately transfixed by its look; something here is remarkable about the way black and white is used to further the overall feel and design of the film.
Having never been to the UK, I don't have a really good sense of how time passes there; to an American, England appears to age barely at all as seen through the cinema. But the themes here and the use of silence and the overall look of the film convey a society in the midst of change; as much as there is here that reminds one of the 1950s, there is an overwhelming 60s theme here about conformity and authority and society which is inescapable. I found myself cheering a bit at the end in the same way I cheered for Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke; here, as in that film, is the story of an individual who refused to be "broken."
I'd definitely rate this film as a key 1960s film, black and white, and yet thoroughly modern and not at all dated. A lot of care was put into this film from the performances to the camerawork, and while it is not something that would keep you on the edge of your seat, it is certainly a compelling story, compellingly told.
49 of 51 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this