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.
In a French village, Manou is an Italian logger, virile, with a broad laugh. He can't say no to women's sexual invitations, and jealous villagers blame him for recent fires and a flood. He ... See full summary »
Jimmy Porter is a loud, obnoxious man, rude and verbally abusive to his wife, Alison. Alison comes from an upper class family that Jimmy abhors and he berates Alison for being too reserved and unfeeling. Jimmy is college educated but works with a partner, Cliff Lewis, as a street vendor operating a candy stall. Cliff lives with Jimmy and Alison and is close friends with both. When Jimmy pushes Alison while she is at the ironing board she is burned. Alison visits her doctor where it is revealed that she is pregnant. She asks him if it is too late to do something about it but the doctor immediately tells her never to mention such an idea. When Jimmy leaves for work, Alison confides to Cliff that she is pregnant. She is frightened of Jimmy's reaction to this news, and has not told him. Jimmy is visited by his childhood nanny, Mrs. Tanner, whom Jimmy loves and calls "Mom." Alison tries to tell Jimmy of the pregnancy but is frustrated when Jimmy insults her for being cool towards Mrs. ...Written by
Before George and Martha there were Jimmy and Alison, the vituperate couple at the heart of Osborne's legendary play and I suppose you could say the British Kitchen Sink movement started here. The difference, of course, being that while the Arthur Seatons and Colin Smiths of this world were unequivocally working-class kicking against the system and the intelligentsia, Jimmy and Alison were the intelligentsia playing at being working-class. And therein lies the rub; unlike later 'kitchen sink' movies "Look Back in Anger" isn't so much looking back as mired in the past, an uneasy amalgam of the kind of British films that were coming out in the late fifties and the kind of ground-breaking British cinema that would come to prevail in the early sixties.
There is no denying it is extremely well played. Burton is loudly splendiferous as Jimmy yet he seems strangely miscast at the same time. Perhaps it's that booming, melodious voice; this is a Jimmy that is more Shakespeare than Osborne, (note how Olivier completely subsumed his Shakespearean tendencies to become the definitive Osborne hero in "The Entertainer"). By the time Burton got around to playing George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" you could say he had grown into the part.
Better cast are Mary Ure as Alison and Claire Bloom as Helena. Their performances feel new and edgy, a move away from the traditional kind of performances that British actresses had been giving up to then while Gary Raymond is an admirable Cliff and a miscast Edith Evans does what she can with Ma Tanner. Tony Richardson opens it out from the Porter's depressing flat to give a more 'cinematic' feel yet it still feels stagey and not in a good way. It's a refreshingly 'grown-up' movie but you may still wonder what all the fuss was about when the original play first opened.
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