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This Sporting Life | 1963 | Frank Windsor, Richard Harris


This Sporting Life | 1963 | Frank Windsor, Richard Harris

It’s about rugby league, beer, grit and tough lads, but it’s also a profound commment on relationships loaded with symbolism and rich in emotion.
Liondsay Anderson’s adaptation of Storey’s novel of rugby, beer and crippled lives is usually held up as a prime example of the kitchen-sink school of filmmaking. But it’s a very different proposition from Saturday Night And Sunday Morning.
There are moments of high symbolism and Brechtian overdetermination which take the movie into very different territory – a scene involving a spider and a hospital bed is a particularly startling deviation from naturalism.
Richard Harris is the young rugby ace who dreams of a life lived for the joy of the game. Roberts is the middle-aged landlady with whom he pursues a frosty romance. But it’s Hartnell who gives the film’s greatest performance, as the tumbledown old man who encourages Harris’s game with a barely concealed erotic fervour. He’s one of cinema’s most unusual corrupting influences. More than anything it has to say about the prison of working-class life, Anderson’s movie is a battle between an old man and a widower for a man’s affections. Riveting.

Frank Windsor as Dentist
Richard Harris as Frank Machin
Rachel Roberts as Mrs. Margaret Hammond
Alan Badel as Gerald Weaver
William Hartnell as ‘Dad’ Johnson
Colin Blakely as Maurice Braithwaite
Vanda Godsell as Mrs Anne Weaver
Anne Cunningham as Judith
Jack Watson as Len Miller
Arthur Lowe as Charles Slomer
Harry Markham as Wade
George Sewell as Jeff
Leonard Rossiter as Phillips, Sports Writer
Katherine Parr as Mrs Farrer
Bernadette Benson as Lynda Hammond
Andrew Nolan as Ian Hammond
Peter Duguid as Doctor
Wallas Eaton as Waiter
Anthony Woodruff as Tom, Head Waiter
Michael Logan as Riley
Murray Evans as Hooker
Tom Clegg as Gower
Ken Traill as Trainer
John Gill as Cameron
Edward Fox as Restaurant Barman (uncredited)
Glenda Jackson as Singer at Party (uncredited)
Roy Lansford as Man in Pub (Uncredited)
Bryan Mosley as Man in Bar (uncredited)
Anton Rodgers as Restaurant Customer (uncredited)
Director: Lindsay Anderson
Script: David Storey
UK | 134 minutes | 1963

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