|Angry Young Cinema: The
Original British New Wave
Discuss this series with other film fans on:
Some screenings in this
series will take place at the Aero Theatre May
11 & 24.
Post-war European cinema in the 1950s and early
1960s - especially movies hailing from England, France and Italy - had some
universal things in common contrary to their obviously different stylistic and cultural
approaches. Much like the impact of WWII on American cinema (seen most dramatically in
downbeat film noir, the Method Acting revolution and later in 1960s New Hollywood),
there was a fresh quest for emotional truth, social relevance, realistic human behavior
and down-to-earth stories about individualistic, working class people. Italy really got
there first in the late 1940s by way of the neo-realist movement, with both the UK
and France erupting simultaneously in the late 1950s with their own respective New
Waves. In England, "Angry Young Cinema," "Kitchen Sink Cinema," and
"Free Cinema" were some of the descriptive titles for this startling explosion
of tell-it-like-it-is movies, virtually all filmed in high contrast, ashen black-and-white
and often adapted from theatrical (John Osborne, Harold Pinter, et.al.) or literary (Alan
Silitoe, David Storey, et.al) source material. Three monumental filmmakers Tony
Richardson, Karel Reisz and Lindsay Anderson - took the lead, first when they
co-founded the groundbreaking film journal, Sequence, and subsequently when their
directing careers in film shorts and plays mushroomed into full-blown dramatic features.
Tony Richardson launched the notable initial foray in 1958 with LOOK BACK IN ANGER
with Reisz following in 1960 with SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING and Anderson in
1963 with THIS SPORTING LIFE. There were also directors like Jack Clayton,
originally known for more traditional fare, who took advantage of the new climate of
freedom with trailblazers like ROOM AT THE TOP (1959). And we havent even
mentioned other great directors like John Schlesinger (BILLY LIAR, DARLING).
The films became famous for their acting, too, with thespians like Richard Burton,
Richard Harris, Julie Christie, Tom Courtenay, Rita Tushingham, Anne Bancroft, Peter
Finch, Laurence Harvey, Dirk Bogarde, Mary Ure turning out what remain, to this day,
arguably their most accomplished, mesmerizing performances. Please join us for this look
back at some of the best films from the era, as well as the final double feature (Lindsay
and Michael Winners ILL NEVER FORGET
WHATS IS NAME) representing Angry Young Cinema transformed into an even
more revolutionary, stream-of-consciousness organism.
Friday, May 19 7:30 PM
THIS SPORTING LIFE,1963, Sony
Repertory, 129 min. Director Lindsay Andersons astonishing debut feature
remains one of the most perfectly realized examples of the then-hitting-its-peak
Angry Young Cinema. Richard Harris gives his greatest performance as a defiant,
uncomplicated rugby star on his way to the pinnacle of the game. However, the sports
brutality, the behind-the-scenes politics, as well as Harris uncompromising honesty
slowly sour things. Even worse, his tragically-mismatched love affair with embittered
widow, Rachel Roberts, seems headed for an even harsher end. The films
desolate climax is guaranteed to coax moist eyes from even the most hardened viewer.
Harris won Best Actor at Cannes, and he and Roberts were both nominated for Oscars.
Produced by Karel Reisz. "
lucid, realistic stuff as tough and genuine as the
rough rugby star on whom it is centered."- A.H. Weiler, New York Times
>> Also playing at The Aero, May 24.
THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES,
1964, Sony Repertory, 91 min. Desmond Davis had been the cameraman on three of
director, Tony Richardsons most esteemed efforts (TASTE OF HONEY, LONG DISTANCE
RUNNER and TOM JONES), and Richardson served as the executive producer on this,
Davis directorial debut. Quiet Rita Tushingham and gabby Lynn Redgrave,
two young friends working in Dublin, encounter worldly, middle-aged writer, Peter Finch,
and Tushingham is immediately smitten. Age difference, religion, Tushinghams parents
and Finchs secretiveness soon take their toll on the couple in this
bittersweet love story. Script by Edna OBrien from her novel, The Lonely Girl.
Winner of the Golden Globe for Best English Language Foreign Film.
Saturday, May 20 7:30 PM
Julie Christie/John Schlesinger Double
DARLING, 1965, Avco-Embassy & Stuart
Lisell Films, 128 min. Dir. John Schlesinger. Julie Christie sets off
fireworks in her Academy Award-winning performance as a common girl in swinging London who
achieves supermodel stardom while breaking the hearts of intellectual writer,
Dirk Bogarde and decadent cad, Laurence Harvey. Finally, Christie seems
destined for a fairy tale ending when she weds Italian nobility - but sometimes fairy
tales arent all theyre cracked up to be. The costume design and Frederic
Raphaels incisive script also won Oscars. "
a slashing social satire
and also a devastating spoof of the synthetic, stomach-turning output of the
television-advertising ageit is loaded with startling expositions and lacerating
wit."-- Bosley Crowther, New York Times
BILLY LIAR, 1963, Rialto Pictures, 98
min. John Schlesinger (MIDNIGHT COWBOY) had already directed two other films, but
this biting comedy-drama raised his visibility as a force to be reckoned with. Tom
Courtenay is wonderful as the frustrated, imaginative young man prone to flights of
fancy. Which also leads him to lie about nearly everything, whether he feels he needs to
or not, something that gets him in hot water with his stern father and his two very
different girlfriends, not to mention his undertaker bosses. His fast wit make his
ambitions as scriptwriter for a TV host seem almost plausible. But when finally confronted
with an opportunity to leave home and go to London with free-spirit friend, Julie
Christie (in her stunning feature film debut), were left to wonder whether
Billys Walter-Mitty-ish dreams are models for the future or an escape from reality.
>> Also playing at The Aero, May 11.
Wednesday, May 24 7:30 PM
PHAEDRA, 1962, Sony Repertory, 115 min. Director Jules
Dassins dazzling update of the Greek tragedy by Euripedes focuses on Greek
shipbuilding tycoon Raf Vallones marriage to the fiery Melina Mercouri
and what happens when Vallones grown son, played by Anthony Perkins, enters
the already volatile mix. Perkins and Mercouri begin a torrid affair that will potentially
leave the family empire in ruins. Jacques Natteaus starkly gorgeous black-and-white
cinematography is a marvel to behold, enhancing the already mesmerizing, at times
delirious, dramatic pyrotechinics on display. Discussion and
booksigning following with Charles Winecoff, author of Anthony Perkins: Split Image
(and senior writer on "E! True Hollywood Story").
Thursday, May 25 - 7:30 pm
2 by Tony Richardson
LOOK BACK IN ANGER, 1958, Sony
Repertory, 99 min. Director Tony Richardson, with the aid of screenwriter Nigel
Kneale, adapts John Osbornes scorched-earth play and sows the seeds of what many
consider the first exponent of Britains then-new Angry Young Cinema. Richard
Burton is a volatile force of nature, a frustrated musician living in near-poverty
with his upper-middle class wife, Mary Ure. His pent-up rage, sometimes taken out
on his delicate spouse, causes untold anguish and leads to an affair with Ures
sensual friend, Claire Bloom. Will Burton come to his senses before driving away
the one person most devoted to him? Burton, Bloom and especially sensitive Ure are
breathtakingly good, wringing every bit of truth and pathos from a superb drama.
LONELINESS OF THE
LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER 1962, Warner Bros., 103 min. As he did in ANGER, director Tony
Richardson once more perfectly captures the ashen, grey atmosphere of working class
England, a kingdom of crushed dreams. Tom Courtenay is the oldest son of his large,
nearly impoverished family. When his father dies, he is pushed over the brink into a
hopeless rat race of trying to live up to his new role as breadwinner. Caught after
robbing a bakery, hes sent to a reform school run by tradional, yet fair governor, Michael
Redgrave. Recognized as a potential long distance runner during soccer,
Courtenays soon offered the opportunity to compete, something that could lead to a
or not. NOT ON DVD!
Friday, May 26 - 7:30 pm
2 by Jack Clayton:
THE PUMPKIN EATER, 1964, Sony
Repertory, 110 min. Director Jack Clayton is now best-remembered for THE INNOCENTS,
his interpretation of Henry James classic ghost story, Turn Of The Screw. However,
he was also responsible for two of the best, most acclaimed films of the British New Wave.
Anne Bancroft is luminously beautiful as a depressed, intelligent upper middle
class housewife who cant seem to stop having children, something that is driving her
screenwriter husband (Peter Finch) round the bend. Harold Pinters
acid-tongued script, along with director Clayton, paints one of the most brilliantly
poignant portraits ever of what its like to be married. Bancroft received the Best
Actress award from Cannes and the Golden Globes, as well as an Oscar nomination for
her portrayal (yes, it equals if not surpasses her turn as Mrs. Robinson in THE
GRADUATE!). With James Mason, Sir Cedric Hardwicke. NOT ON DVD!
ROOM AT THE TOP, 1959, 118 min.
Along with LOOK BACK IN ANGER, director Jack Claytons unflinching profile of
lower class Laurence Harveys climb to the top of his prospective
father-in-laws company really started the ball rolling on a frank, new realism in
British cinema. Like many of the other films in this series, we get to see the humanity,
vulnerability and fear behind even the most unprincipled behavior, lending a dimension to
motion pictures that has had a lasting impact. Harveys inner struggle, whether to go
through with his marriage to his bosss sweet, young daughter, Heather Sears, or
remain loyal to his devoted, middle-aged mistress, Simone Signoret, is
heartwrenching. Enormously controversial in England when originally released due to
its frank treatment of sex and adultery. Signoret won Best Actress at the Oscars as
well as at Cannes, and Neil Paterson won Best Screenplay Oscar.
Saturday, May 27 - 7:30 pm
Albert Finney/Karel Reisz Double Feature:
SATURDAY NIGHT &
SUNDAY MORNING, 1960, Sony Repertory, 90 min. Karel Reisz had already
directed the acclaimed documentary WE ARE THE LAMBETH BOYS, when this smoldering tale of a
smart-mouthed rake in a Northern England factory town became his breakthrough debut
feature. It likewise cast a spotlight on Albert Finney in his first leading role as
Arthur, a human fireball burning a swath through the female population, including married
Brenda (Rachel Roberts) and easygoing Doreen (Shirley Anne Field). Whether
his career of seduction proves his downfall or ultimate salvation, the audience must
decide. Like many other "kitchen sink" dramas, this is an unflinchingly honest
depiction of the plight of women in the working class world.
>> Also playing at The Aero, May 24.
NIGHT MUST FALL, 1964, MGM (Warner
Bros.), 105 min. Its Angry Young Man as budding psychopath, with Albert Finney
as a charming, working class serial killer. Director Karel Reisz adapts Emlyn
Williams famous play, and, contrary to some opinions, this underrated version is far
superior to the first 1937 film. Finney (who also produced) is riveting as the canny
sociopath who is irresistable to women, of any age. Things come to a head when hes
employed as a companion by his girlfriends boss, the affluent Mrs. Bramson (a great
Mona Washbourne). Chilling and disturbing, from the opening scenes of Finney running naked
through the forest with an axe to the nervewracking climax. Atmospherically photographed
in stunning black-and-white by Freddie Francis. NOT ON DVD!
Sunday, May 28 - 6:30 pm
A TASTE OF HONEY, 1961, 100 min. Rita
Tushingham is marvelous as Jo, a poor, unwed mother still in her teens, pregnant by
Black sailor, Jimmy (Paul Danquah), and left in the lurch. She decides to leave her mother
(Dora Bryan) and home, moving in with young, gay Geoffrey (Murray Melvin). Tony
Richardson directs from Shelagh Delaneys script (adapted from her play),
delivering an uncompromising, perceptive film about the hopes and disappointments of
youth, especially those on the lower end of the economic ladder. Tushingham and Melvin won
Best Actress and Actor respectively at Cannes. NOT ON DVD!
THE L-SHAPED ROOM, 1963, Sony
Repertory, 125 min. Dir. Bryan Forbes. Leslie Caron was nominated for an
Oscar and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in this drama about Jane, an independent,
young French woman who becomes pregnant and has to wait out her term in a seedy
boardinghouse. Brock Peters, Tom Bell, Cicely Courtneidge are some of the tenants
who share their experiences with her. "One of the films pleasures lies in
discovering each character as Jane comes to know them
we meet real people who we come
to care for, gradually discovering traits that could later be tossed into easy baskets:
lesbian, struggling writer, prostitute, jazz musician. Themes of abortion, sexuality, race
filmmakers today rarely confront all of them in a single film, yet they are
treated here with a frank charm." - Jayson Elliot, Permission Magazine NOT ON DVD!
Wednesaday, May 31 7:30 PM
1968, Paramount, 111 min. Dir. Lindsay
Anderson. More than any other film of the era, IF... perfectly represents the
international spirit of youthful rebellion in the late sixties, metamorphosing the angry
young working men from earlier films like LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER and
Andersons own THIS SPORTING LIFE into revolutionary iconoclasts, establishing a
balance between broader, pop culture movies like WILD IN THE STREETS and Jean-Luc Godard's
apocalyptic WEEKEND. Boarding school student, Travis (Malcolm McDowell) is one of
the great screen outsiders, a poetic, rebel individualist and sensitive wild man. Director
Anderson imbues him with an emotional honesty and intellectual depth rarely seen in films
about youth. NOT ON DVD!
NEVER FORGET WHATS IS NAME, 1967, Universal, 99 min. Dir. Michael
Winner. One of the great lost films of the sixties. Commercials director Oliver
Reed just can't stomach his job's hypocrisy any longer he appropriately smashes
his desk to bits with an axe in the opening moments! so he tries to break away from
Machiavellian boss Orson Welles and rediscover his true roots working for a
"small literary journal." Unfortunately for him, its the middle of
Swinging 60s London, and hes pursued/distracted by girlfriends, mistresses and
soon-to-be ex-wives, while struggling to figure out just what he wants from life. Lured
back to mercenary marketing by Welles, Reed delivers an ultimate finger-in-the-eye to
crass advertizing with a subversive anti-commercial satirizing the industrys
bad-faith venality. Co-starring Wendy Craig, Marianne Faithfull and Carol White.