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Look Back at England: The British New Wave

Sunday, September 9, 2007
5:00 p.m. A Taste of Honey
Tony Richardson (U.K., 1961)

A Taste of Honey gave sixties Britain one of its most unexpected and delightful stars: Rita Tushingham, a nineteen-year-old Liverpudlian of wide-eyed spirit and wide-mouthed sarcasm. Tushingham plays Jo, a working-class teenager living in open hostility with her wildly vulgar, careless mother (Dora Bryan). After her brief romance with a black sailor leads to predictable complications, Jo strikes out on her own, and finds a new sort of family with a gay design student: he darns her socks, decorates her shabby apartment, and offers himself as a father to her child. Adapted from Shelagh Delaney's successful play, A Taste of Honey imparts a documentary flavor to a basically literary brand of realism. Its take on then-taboo topics like interracial romance, unwed pregnancy, and homosexuality has lost the shock of the new, but it remains vivid in its portrayal of the gray smokestack landscapes of Lancashire, the backstreets of Salford, the funfair at Blackpool.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Shelagh Delaney, Richardson, from the play by Delaney. Photographed by Walter Lassally. With Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens, Murray Melvin. (100 mins, B&W, 35mm, From MGM)