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 »
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.
Producer and Director Tony Richardson continued to insist on selecting filming locations, which he'd begun with A Taste of Honey (1961), the first British movie shot entirely outside of a studio. According to Cinematographer Walter Lassally, location work was very difficult to sell to British movie financiers at the time. "They were afraid that a lack of sunlight would delay the shooting interminably. It was impossible to convince them that for greater realism, it was actually desirable to shoot exteriors without sun." See more »
Early in the movie, when the new boys are in the van on the way to the borstal, they are shown in handcuffs and chains; when they emerge from the van, the restraints are gone. However, one of their guards is heard referring to removing their restraints after they pass through the outer gate. 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.
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This is one of my very favorite pictures of all time. Courtenay was practically unknown at the time, but turns in a performance worthy of a Gielgud or an Olivier. I don't think anyone else could have conveyed the sense of alienation which is so typical of male youth at some point in their lives. The whole dramatic high point of the film is the contrast between an upper class school and the school to which Courtenay is relegated, just a shade above a reformatory, The concluding scenes, that could have been milked for bathos or easy tears, are stunning in dramatic effect and made totally believable by both Courtenay and Richardson. I'm not quite sure as how much the film will appeal to a female audience, but if you are male and remember what it was like to be in your teens and feeling that the world did not understand you, then don't miss this.
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