Friday, February 24, 2023 - 6:00pm
Friday, February 24 - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,1962, 104 minutes, directed by Tony Richardson starring Tom Courtenay and Michael Redgrave
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner caused quite a stir when it was released in 1962. Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay) is idling in a reform school after having robbed a bakery. Encouraged by the school governor, he trains as a marathoner. He sees the sport as his ticket out of the reformatory, but struggles with the authorities he despises. The film was damned and praised simultaneously on its release. Its gritty look, hand held camera, minimal lighting, and intentional lack of polish received mixed reviews, but its ideology was even more noteworthy. The film's disrespect for social institutions caused an uproar among some circles. Today it holds a place in the British Film Institute's Top 100 British films of all time.
(Image used with permission of Warner Bros.)
CinemaLit February 2023: The British New Wave
As the Mostly British Film Festival plays the Vogue Theatre this month in San Francisco, CinemaLit is screening four great films of the British New Wave: Look Back in Anger (1959), The Entertainer (1960), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). From 1959 to 1963, British cinema came forth with a series of startlingly raw films portraying the struggles of the laboring classes in the Midlands and Northern England. Spare, diamond-hard, and deeply felt, these "kitchen sink dramas" were made on small budgets and directed by mavericks just beginning their careers, including Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, John Schlesinger, and Bryan Forbes. The films hold up brilliantly sixty years later; their harsh judgments of wealth and social class haven't aged a day. Revel, too, in the powerhouse acting of four actors at the peak of their powers: Richard Burton (Look Back in Anger), Laurence Olivier (The Entertainer), Albert Finney (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), and Tom Courtenay (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner). Combined, they embody the dispossessed and embittered forgotten men of austere postwar England as envisioned by John Osborne, Alan Sillitoe, Shelagh Delaney, and other screenwriters, novelists, and playwrights of the era.
Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.
“I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."
“Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”
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