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Look Back at England: The British New Wave

Sunday, September 2, 2007
5:00 p.m. Look Back in Anger
Tony Richardson (U.K., 1959)

Of all the angry young men in the sixties British cinema who ever raged against the hypocrisy, regimentation, and disappointment of working-class life, none raged quite so eloquently and articulately as Richard Burton, portraying John Osborne's antihero Jimmy Porter in the film that started it all. Crowded into a tiny Midlands flat with his taciturn wife Alison and two others, Jimmy torments all with his tirades against the Crown, the Clergy, and the Classes (upper and middle). Part of Jimmy's problem is that he is educated out of his class, yet stuck in it; another part defies sociology, the deep wounds of a man ripped too early from childhood, so, again, stuck in it. With its jazz score (including Jimmy's sarcastic trumpet riff on "Rule Britannia"), jazz-inspired cinematography by Oswald Morris, and supporting (or enabling) turns by Mary Ure as Alison ("the lady pusillanimous"), Claire Bloom, and Dame Edith Evans, this film still knocks your knickers off.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Nigel Kneale, with additional dialogue by John Osborne, based on Osborne's play. Photographed by Oswald Morris. With Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure, Dame Edith Evans. (101 mins, B&W, 35mm, From MGM)