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Two Left Feet

Some Mothers do have 'em take one.
Crawford has enjoyed a rather more varied career than is sometime realised by British viewers used to his ultra-popular role in the sit-com 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em'. This early outing about a daft as a brush youth's search for sex has similarites with the above but a drier and slightly black line creates an amusing little film that looks at British teen-life just before the Beatles. Some good names crop up here and there but it is Crawford who holds our attention.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Looking on with a lot of anger.
The rise of the 'angry young man' in British cinema took an interesting twist in this gritty drama. Set initially in Nottingham, Smith and his mate played by a very young James Bolam are nicked for petty theft. Sent to a borstal his athletic prowess is seized on by the Head to be mobilised in the name of the institution. Michael Redgrave's superb creation combines the stiff Britishness with a surpressed and unfulfillable desire to reform and change. This opposition creates a man at odds with his position. On the one hands he trusts and on the other he is petty and weak. Courtney's runner defines the struggle of the period between the decaying class system and the consumer led rise of the working class. His desire to run his own race, to lose because he won't win to justify Redgrave's ideology portrays that essentially English state of mind that it is better to fail than to succeed as long as you have chosen to fail. A wonderful film.

Life for Ruth

Well made debate about religious ethics
Filmed in Durham, 'Life for Ruth' is a surprisingly effective story about a man who puts his daughters life in the hands of God and ignores the advice of surgeons. Ruth dies and a court case ensues in which the tension of the situation is brought to a head. Well acted by Michael Craig and especially Patrick MacGoohan as a journalist who comes to see both sides of the argument. This is one of those typically British films with dignity that makes use of unusual locations.

This Sporting Life

A bleak and truthful portrait of Yorkshire in the early sixties
Richard Harris and Lindsay Anderson spent sometime in the West Yorkshire coalfield prior to the filming of This Sporting Life. To call the film gritty and realistic is a truism measured up by the nature of the stark narrative. Harris is profoundly convincing as the miner turned Rugby League player who pursues the arctic charms of his widowed landlady played with sublime restraint by the late Rachel Roberts. For those of us familiar with the Northern man, Wakefield and with Rugby league the stories verisimilitude is almost painful. Watch particularly Harris's trial match (during which the actor broke his leg), his 'singing debut' in the nightclub and the interlude at Kirkstall Abbey. Note too the participation of Wakefield Trinity stars Ken Rollin and Neil Fox, men who were local legends in the 1960's.

The Leather Boys

Watch the last few minutes
An interesting kitchen sink film that alludes too, rather than tackling homosexuality. Worth watching for the location shots and the fine performance of Dudley Sutton. The final quarter of an hour is really quite poignant and there is an excellent final scene.

The Angry Silence

Britain in the days of Black and White television
Filmed in Ipswich, this screenplay, challenging in its time, gives a clear portrayal of British Industrial relations during the time 'We never had it so good.' Alfred Burke's agent provocateur with his sinister telephone calls does just enough to suggest that the cold war was blowing through British engineering. Attenborough's innocent at the power lathe is nicely offset by the underrated Michael Craig as his friend and lodger forced to go along with the Union's decision to send the strikebreaker to Coventry. Good location shooting and the knowledge that things were not so very different in reality makes this a handy movie from several perspectives. Viewed with 'I'm Alright Jack' you can gain a fair impression of Britain in the days of Black and White Television

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