My Films: Day 7

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, 1962

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner marked the beginning of a lifelong love affair with Tom Courtenay, who is nothing short of brilliant in this film.

It becomes clear that I have a taste for the gritty realism of British 1960s Kitchen Sink dramas and Director Tony Richardson. As for A Taste of Honey, I have no clear memory of when I first saw this film but it would certainly have been on television rather than at the cinema, so a few years after its release, I suppose.

I cannot honestly, at this stage of my life, express what it was that spoke to an impressionable young girl of perhaps 13 years of age. I simply do not recall. I just remember falling hook, line and sinker for Tom Courtenay – but can that be the sole reason for this film remaining in my head with such clarity? I doubt it. Perhaps a re-viewing would be in order. It grieves me that I cannot use the BFI Player because I live in France.

I almost met Sir Tom a few years back. He was staying with our next door neighbour, who had invited us round to sup sherry with Sir Tom and his wife. Sadly, due to illness in the family, the neighbour had to go away at short notice and the sherry-supping party never happened. My good husband got to exchange a few words with the man one morning but I only ever got to chat with his wife. Gutted? Very possibly but also somewhat relieved. I would have gushed. I would have made an ass of myself. You know the kind of thing… forgetting to let go of the hand and actually uttering “Sir Tom, I love your work.” Just imagine how dreadful that would have been! But, yes, deeply and eternally disappointed not to meet one of my theatrical heroes.

There will be more of Sir Tom in my list later.

There are uncredited performances in this film by the late great John Thaw, James Fox and Derek Fowlds. James Bolam actually gets credited.

No 61 in the BFI 100

Directed byTony Richardson
Written byAlan Sillitoe
StarringTom Courtenay
Michael Redgrave
Avis Bunnage
James Bolam
Alec McCowen
Music byJohn Addison
CinematographyWalter Lassally

Wikipedia | IMDB

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