The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) -Tony Richardson

The angry young British man films continues with the iconic The Loneliness of the Longd Distance Runner, a title from the What Else to Watch list of DK Canada’s The Movie Book following its recommendation of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay) is a young offender, busted for robbing a bakery, ends up in a strict reformatory school overseen by the Governor (Micheal Redgrave). He begins to get noticed for his endurance as a runner, to the point where he is encouraged to compete in an upcoming race, but this would cost any alliances, and friendships with his peers.

On his runs, he ruminates on his past, and the events that have led him up to his incarceration, and debating whether he is going to take part in the race or not.

Alan Stilltoe, who penned Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, wrote the script for this film based on one of his short stories.

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While Colin is more sympathetic in nature than Finney’s character in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, as someone I know often says, ‘it’s a choice.’ So it’s hard to feel completely for the character because while there are some around him that are tying to help, he ignores them, because of course he knows best.

On the flipside, Courtenay is quite good in his role, making Coin a believable and recognizable character.

The film balances the flashbacks and the through line of the story very well, as Colin wrestles with his past as well as the possibilities of his future. I do like how the story unfolds, as well as how it is shot, there is some light humor that weaves through it, which in turn serves to make it feel like a more realistic story.

The film’s climax plays out brilliantly as his past and present mesh in one last race to the finish line, a moment that will define him and his place in his world.

Despite not being able to relate to Courtenay’s character – though his performance is brilliant -, the film itself proved to be very solidly made and entertaining. I like how it is crafted, performed and how the story plays out.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner ends up being a very good film that looks at a troubled young man, and his desire to find his own place in society. This film and others like it continue to entertain and illuminateĀ  in the exceptional The Movie Book from DK Books. So pick one up today and find some classic cinema to watch tonight.

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