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This Sporting Life (DVD) [1963]

4.4 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel, William Hartnell, Colin Blakely
  • Directors: Lindsay Anderson
  • Writers: David Storey
  • Producers: Julian Wintle, Karel Reisz, Leslie Parkyn
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: ITV DVD
  • DVD Release Date: 31 Jan. 2000
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004D34L
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 96,357 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Yorkshire miner turned rugby player Frank Machin (Richard Harris) has a number of women chasing after him, but only has eyes for his widowed landlady, Mrs Hammond (Rachel Roberts). However, she remains resolutely unresponsive to his advances. Meanwhile, Frank's rebelliousness at the club is tolerated as long as he is successful on the pitch, but as he comes to appreciate the emptiness of his existence his frustration begins to mount.

From Amazon.co.uk

Prolific British filmmaker Lindsay Anderson weaves this small, evocative tale of young life at the crossroads in early 1960s Northern England. A rough, sullen young man (Richard Harris) working in the local coal mines begins to make a name for himself as a star rugby player, but even as he begins to fall in love he cannot escape the harsh realities of the bleak life around him. The rugby sequences in the film are striking, but no more so than the depiction of downtrodden people living in the shadow of industry and corruption that too often crushes their spirit. Harris in one of his first roles, is remarkably effective as an unlikeable but sympathetic figure trying against hope to savour the small joys life has to offer, and the film also features the debut of renowned actress Glenda Jackson. One of a series of working-class, character-driven British imports, This Sporting Life is one of the best on the field. --Robert Lane

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Don't believe any of the stupid and insulting reviews of this film left here by people who are obviously out of sympathy with what it is trying to achieve. This represents the high-point of British film-making: a film about British people made FOR British people - in stark contrast to the junk we tend to produce today, sending ourselves up for the jollification of American onanists. Harris was never as impressive as this again and Rachel Roberts gives a heart-breaking performance as his landlady/love interest (sort of). The supporting cast is impeccable and as for the ending....absolutely devastating. No sense of it being rushed at all - absolutely perfect and right.

Be warned, though: this film is sugar and anaesthetic-free, largely unleavened by humour (and none the worse for that, I'd say). Anyone interested in BRITISH film-making (as opposed to 'films made in Britain') needs to see this film.
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Format: DVD
This Sporting Life is directed by Lindsay Anderson and written by David Storey. It stars Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel, William Hartnell, Colin Blakely, Vanda Godsell and Anne Cunningham. Music is by Roberto Gerhard and cinematography by Denys Coop.

Frank Machin (Harris) gets the opportunity to utilise his brute strength and angry nature out on the Rugby League field. It looks a match made in sporting heaven as Machin quickly establishes himself as a star in waiting, but off the field he is less successful at life's challenges...

You taking the jam out of someone's sandwich without asking for it?

Pigeon holed as Brit Kitchen Sink Drama or Brit New Wave, This Sporting Life is regardless a very unique and powerful film. It was director Anderson's first full length feature and also Harris' break out performance. What transpires over the course of the two hour plus running time, is a tale of mud, blood and emotionally fractured characters. Set to a grim back drop of a damp Yorkshire city, with coal mines and factories the means of employment, the streets are paved with stone and the terraced houses charred by the soot of the chimney smoke.

Just a big ape on the football field.

This back drop marries up perfectly with Machin's life, where even out on the pitch he comes to understand that he's in a vortex of unfulfillment. There are some bright spots dripped into proceedings, hope dangled like a golden carrot, especially with one beautiful sequence as Frank plays with Margaret's (Roberts) kids, but bleakness is never far away, the story demands that. Margaret is his landlady and object of his brutish desire, she's one of life's warriors but struggling to keep up the good fight.
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Format: DVD
Having been a Rugby League player himself David Storey, author of both the original novel and the screenplay, knew what he was writing about. But the sporting background, characterised by the often brutal nature of the Rugby League game, is properly subsumed by a story of two people - the miner/player Frank Machin (Richard Harris) and the still young widow Margaret Hammond (Rachel Roberts) with whom he lodges - whose relationship is fatally flawed by the inherently violent nature of the former and the inherently repressed nature of the latter. The setting of a grim Northern town rings true, the match scenes, filmed in Wakefield, are vividly staged, the performances of the principals are outstanding and the rawness and passion of the story climaxes in a genuine - and heartbreaking - tragedy. This has some claim to be the finest of the North of England-based New Wave British films of the period.
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Format: DVD
Uncompromising, claustrophobic, grubby, pitiless, deadly - this film succeeds in describing the essence of the industrial North before the winds of social change emanating from Swinging London really started to make themselves felt. It is almostly certainly cinema's most 'honest' portrayal of the British working-class milieu in the early-'sixties. For this reason alone it is well worth seeing, but it also features fine acting performances, not only from the two leads, but also from a surprisingly strong supporting cast, which includes a number of household names from the era.
One word of caution concerning this particular presentation: whether due to the original mono soundtrack or the DVD manufacturers/distributors, the audio is poor throughout the film and dialogue occasionally difficult to follow. Subtitles are however provided.
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Format: DVD
This terrific film is probably the grimmest of the 'kitchen sink' dramas from this era, and it was probably the last. The public grew a bit weary of them I think. But it's wonderful, brilliantly acted and written, and still potent. I think it's a bit patronising to say the film shows the shallow Americans 'what we were all about' because they had their own great films from around this time that reflected their culture. They couldn't have made this great film, and the Brit's couldn't have made their classics. Apples and oranges. The print is stunning. The only minor distraction is Richard Harris's oddly heavy makeup. But it's a great film, and he's great in it, as is the entire cast. And yes, it is a sugar free zone, big time.
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