The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner details
|Formats:||12 DVD, Blu-ray|
|Starring:||James Bolam, Michael Redgrave, Joe Robinson, Julia Foster, John Thaw, Alec McCowen, Tom Courtenay|
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
|Run time:||1 hour 40 minutes|
|Rental release:||23 Mar 2009|
Most helpful review
In a class of its ownBy MKGE from LONDON , 13 Jun 2004
[Highly rated reviewer]Set in the 1960s Nottingham, an edgy 17-year-old boy, Smith, is sent to Borstal after robbing a bakery.
He lives in a small bungalow with his working class family and is being pushed over the edge by the prejudices and twisted morals of his parents. His fathers animosity towards the medical profession sends him to an early grave and his mothers lust for money means she only takes joy in spending her dead husbands insurance policy, and invites another man into the house straight away.
Although Smith is aimless, he is a gifted fast and talented runner, which the prison governor tries to exploit to fulfil his own frustrated ambition. The governor pitches Smiths talent against a private school star hoping to prove the credibility of the Borstal school system and achieve his own personal glory.
This hard-hitting classic of the 60s perfectly illustrates how difficult it is to break through class barriers.
With an intense performance by Tom Courtenay as Smith and gritty direction by Tony Richardson, the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner has survived the test of time and reflects social issues still present today.
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Proper British Cinema!By jackip from cumbria , 20 Oct 2005This was an excellent film. As someone who has a completely unfounded 'phobia' of black and white films, I approached this with some caution. Brilliantly filmed, minimalist in its dialogue, and utterly encapsulating working class Britain in the 50s and 60s (I imagine). Fascinating to see so many of our now established film/tv stars making their early debuts (John Thaw, Redgrave himself, James Bolam). Don't hesitate to give this a go. The ending is wonderful - so not Hollywood.
Worth a run-through.By a customer from London , 18 Aug 2005An interesting, thoughtful film, atmospherically shot and with an excellent performance from Tom Courtney as the eponymous borstal-boy with a talent for long-distance running, and the supporting cast. Certainly much more subtle in its treatment of post-war class-tension issues than the original censors thought (though it's perhaps easier to see that now at one step removed from the historical context). All the same, it has dated ( in the same way films like the 1960s 'If...' has) and looks as little adolescent now: I found it difficult to identify with or even much sympathise with the inarticulate protagonist (though perhaps that's my problem not the film's). It might have been because I did feel that the poetry of being a long distance runner, on which the story surely ought to hang, didn't survive the adaptation and expansion of the original short story particularly well: I wasn't altogether clear what running did mean to the young man, if anything. Still, an ought-to-see.
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Borstal in 1950sBy oldzany from Henley-on-thames , 01 Aug 2005Whatever other merits this film has, it's an interesting insight into life in a Borstal in the 1950s.
Had Alan Sillitoe or the producer had first-hand experience or did they simply employ a good researcher? Not only was it Tom Courtenay's first film but there were other actors also in their early 20s who would go far, mainly James Bolam and Julia Foster.
Altogether I found it a watchable film but the ending is somehow unsatisfying.
Bleak in B&WBy KenS (83 reviews) from London , 14 Feb 2005This is a great film with a tremendous central performance from Tom Courtney. The rest of the cast is good, as you always expect and usually get from serious British movies.
It is a great story set in a totally convincing evocaction of Britain in that dreadful post war austerity.
Running away; an anti-road movieBy Steph2576 from SHEFFIELD , 27 Jan 2005A bitter, brooding doom infuses British cinema in the sixties, reflecting an enduring frustration with what had gone before, and what then ensued. The Second World War crushed the idea of fundamental change, such as was imagined in the thirties in relation to Spain, for example and replaced it with Cold War paranoia.
Tom Courtney, as the long distance runner, yearns to transcend the grim, anomic institution that is Borstal. His loneliness is the isolation of any thinking soul faced with similarly dour circumstances, and his solution typically individual for the period. In running he escapes into his own imagination, but no further. Real freedom is not on the cards, only limited, local victories: how thoroughly British!
In running for himself, and not in the service of others, he retains his integrity. We acknowledge his honour as well as his ability. But the terrible truth remains, that his is a pyrrhic victory, whose reward is only an increased inwardness. Excellently played and shot, this movie captures perfectly the dilemma of the generation who wanted more, but didnt know how to get it.