Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Defiant One

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1961) - Richardson
Colin (Tom Courtenay) is a bitter young man from a poor household. His dad is dead and his mom is blowing dad's insurance money while his body's still warm. He is sent to a reform school for stealing 75 quid from a bakery. The governor of the institution (Michael Redgrave) takes a shine on him because of his running ability. He unwittingly becomes enemy of many people in there but he doesn't want to play anyone's game. As the film builds up to its climax where he and the lads go up against privileged public school running team, we get to know more about Colin. It's his stare that pierces one's heart.

Richardson's British class observation is very acute. At one point, Colin retorts when asked about getting a job, "It's not that I don't like work. It's just that I don't like the idea of slaving me guts out so the bosses can get all the profits. Seems all wrong to me."

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is the ultimate F U to the system movie and I really loved it. Glad finally got to see the greatness of Courtenay. Compare to Malcolm McDowell's all-knowing cynicism, his anger and loneliness seem genuine and all the more innocent. Gotta seek out more of his performances.

The film also features twitty (even back then) James Fox as the nemesis runner at the end.

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