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This Sporting Life [1963] [DVD]

Richard Harris , Lindsay Anderson    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: 9.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Richard Harris
  • Directors: Lindsay Anderson
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Network
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Nov 2008
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000RJEIS4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,199 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best British Film Ever Made 30 Jan 2010
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Tragedy 10 Aug 2010
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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This Sporting Life 25 Nov 2004
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This Sporting Life" improves with time. 22 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"This Sporting Life" remains a cornerstone of British cinema. Lindsay Anderson's remarkable understanding of the original source material echoes with the political turmoil of the early sixties at the same time as it reminds us that the British New Wave was its own voice. Contrary to critics of the period who denounced this film as derivative of nouvelle vague filmmaking, Anderson and his remarkable team shot the world of class and culture as none had done before. The ragged use of black and white, coupled with a lack of slickness that only compunds the reality of the piece, places us squarely in the squalid and often gritty world of men's locker rooms, desperately lonely rowhouses and heartless luxury. Richard Harris creates a character achingly out of reach of his own emotions and thoughts and Rachel Roberts succeeds as the widow who, sadly, knows nothing but emptiness and tragedy. Both of these actors do the finest work of their careers and they are supported by a quietly powerful ensemble that helps to explain why this period in British filmmaking continues to resonate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
a little bit dated but still worth watching especially to recognise the sights of Wakefield at that time and the housing conditions.
Published 3 months ago by josephine lynch
5.0 out of 5 stars the sporting life
allways liked richard harris,thought the film was very good,heard it on the radio audio version,decided 2 buy the dvd,glad i did
Published 5 months ago by christine hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Bone crunching reality
Sport at its basic core, all spit,sweat and broken teeth. A working class grasp of social politics, raw brutal and unforgiving.
Published 6 months ago by D. P. Ibison
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The service for this was amazing, it arrived in three days, in great condition. I got this for my Dad for Christmas and he absolutely adores it! Would definitely recommend it! :)
Published 15 months ago by Abbey Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars Harris Does Brando
It is remarkable to think that master (albeit sporadic) film-maker Lindsay Anderson's 1963 film This Sporting Life was actually his feature debut. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Keith M
5.0 out of 5 stars Showed Hollywood what we could do....
To my mind, and to many others, This Sporting Life is the essential, character-driven British exponent of that 1960's realism, 'kitchen sink' drama. Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2012 by Tim Kidner
4.0 out of 5 stars Scorching Sport-Centered Drama That's Still Angry After All These...
"This Sporting Life." (1963). A true black and white British classic, a scorching sport-centred drama, helmed by prolific director Lindsay Anderson (O Lucky Man Special Edition... Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2011 by Stephanie De Pue
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Unrequited Love
When I first saw this great film, a good few years ago, I was haunted by Richard Harris's Frank Machin, registering his struggle both off and on the rugby field while somehow... Read more
Published on 24 May 2011
3.0 out of 5 stars This sporting life
A difficult fi;m to watch in some ways but strong, and Oscar nominated, performances from its two leads and an extraordinary, vivid depiction of life in an industrial, northern... Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2011 by Stuart Suckling
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch It
for a powerful emotional experience.This film is depressing and negative and not at all easy to watch-but it is one of the great British films,the chemistry between Richard Harris... Read more
Published on 13 Nov 2010 by Mw Puleston
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