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on 10 May 2008
I watched Look Back in Anger last night for the first time in many years. It is a brilliant play but rather difficult to watch due to the uncomfortable scenes of verbal abuse involving Richard Burton's character and his down-trodden, upper-middle-class wife who seems to spend all her time ironing and looking beautiful but down-trodden. Apparently John Osborne wrote this play based on his own unhappy marriage to Pamela Lane and their life in a dingy flat in Derby during the fifties.

It takes a lot of effort to see beyond the contemptuous, bullying veneer of Burton's portrayal of Jimmy and it would be easy to dismiss him as nothing more than a villain. But glimpses beneath his odious exterior include his obvious devotion to his old landlady and his support of an Indian market-stall owner who is ostracised for being a foreigner. By the end of the film it becomes obvious that Jimmy is severely `damaged' psychologically but we, the viewers, are left to draw our own conclusions as to why he is selling sweets on a market stall and living in such squalid conditions when he is university educated.

To my mind Claire Bloom's character, Helena, is the real villain of the play. The scene where Jimmy launches a vitriolic tirade against Helena, calling her an `evil-minded little virgin' she slaps him and there is a suspended moment of emotion as Jimmy clutches his stinging cheek. It is probably the most obvious point in the film and made me cringe a little but somehow they manage to get away with it.

The film was made in 1959 and the play opened in 1956 so it is now well over fifty years old. In today's age of psychotherapy and anti-depressants would Jimmy be a better person (a happier person) or was he better-off being angry and frustrated i.e. himself? It certainly wouldn't have made such a marvelous play. In many respects this play has similarities to A Streetcar Named Desire where the character of Stanley Kowalski could almost be interchangeable with that of Burton's Jimmy. Both are powerful plays/films and make for disturbing, thought-provoking viewing but they are far from uplifting: Testament to an era when abortion was illegal, two double Scotches cost ten bob and Angry Young Men could sell Jelly Babies by day and play the trumpet in a jazz club at night.
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on 31 October 2009
It is rare that I find myself moved to display my fondness for a film or book through an online review, but i cannot help but feel as though some of the other reviewers (cough, the only other reviewer, cough) have been...well, silly. First of all, this is a FILM ADAPTATION of the classic John Osbourne play. A film adaptation is an adaption of a play for a film - this is why it is called a film adaptation of a play. Indeed, the original character of Jimmy Porter is 25, and perhaps Richard Burton looks a few years too old to suitably entice the viewer into this belief, but come along now! - he is a brilliant actor; a truly brilliant actor particularly in this production! Such anger! Such Fury! Such...well, Jimmy Porterism! To describe such a style of performance as 'wooden' is overly opiniative to say the least. To say the most, it is downright wrong. Please forgive me for being overly opinionative, but forgive yourself, mr. 1-star reviewer, for forgetting the subjectivity of such a matter! This film is brilliant - a well directed, beautifully shot and stunningly acted piece. Bravo! Pip Pip! Tally Ho! Oh, i'm 20 years old by the way.
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on 20 July 2007
Have long since lost the video I had of this film. Does deserve a DVD release in this country, most definitely, it does. It is British through and through, it made the Royal Court Theatre famous for putting on daring contemporary work, it made its young author famous, it certainly didn't hinder the careers of its actors, and it coined two new terms used by the media, 'Angry Young Man' and 'Kitchen Sink Drama'. And the only place you can watch this version of landmark British theatre on DVD is...America. Sounding like a familiar story, isnt it!
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I originally watched this film, purely because of my love of black and white films and the 1950s as an era. Watching it opened my eyes a lot to the significance of the film and further research shows just how important it really is.

It was borne out of the Free Cinema movement of which Tony Richardson was a prominent figure. It questions The Establishment and peoples' place, as society seemed to be becoming restless and not willing to stay in their place, having always had it drilled into them just what this place was.

Although the cast are well-spoken, it also begins to turn the tide on the characters shown in films, ie the working classes are becoming less hidden, as they had previously been, at the behest no doubt of The Establishment.

Following on from this film, I found the book In Anger by Robert Hewison to be a fascinating further insight into this world of The Establishment at this time.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2008
One of the most dramatic of the critically acclaimed kitchen sink dramas where it always seems to be raining.

This is a very dark and brooding picture dealing with an unsuitable marriage between the classes. A true classic that stars Richard Burton and the great Dame Edith Evans.

Burton is at his most good-looking here, and plays a somewhat bitter, insecure, but intelligent loser married to the downtrodden and love-sick 'Alison' (played by the beautiful Mary Ure who committed suicide in 1975) - then along comes her best friend (Claire Boom) as his second helping of 'top drawer'!

This movie is now fifty years old. I have not seen the re-make, but it won't be as good as this!

This melancholic picture also stars a young Donald Pleasence with a rare starring role for Gary Raymond
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on 6 December 2003
In this masterful movie from 1958, director Tony Richardson shows precisely why he became to be regarded as such a brilliant film director.
The film leads, Richard Burton and Claire Bloom, both supply electric performances - made especially memorable by the barely-concealed power of Burton's voice, manner and overall screen "presence"
Just a few seconds of Richard Burton on screen makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Is this the best film acting he ever did? I can't think of any other film in which he provided a better, more powerful performance.
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on 9 May 2013
This is one of Burtons best films and showed his talent off best and what was to come sadley b4 Miss Taylor and Hollywood and the lure of money got in his way of a great film career. Its very much the original kitchen sink drama and was as alarming a film of its day as Kathy Come Home and Saturday Night, Sunday Morning....A must see for any Burton fan or british films of the 60s.
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on 20 February 2012
British producer and New Wave theater and film director Tony Richardson`s feature film debut which was written by English screenwriter Nigel Kneale (1922-2006) and John Osborne (1929-1994), is an adaptation of English playwright, screenwriter and actor John Osborne`s play from 1956 and was shot at Elstree Studios and on various locations in London, England. It tells the story about Jimmy Porter who lives in a rooftop apartment near a church in England with his upper middle-class wife Alison and his friend Cliff who he works with at his sweet store at a market nearby. Jimmy and Alison has lived together and been married for two years, but their relationship is closer to an emotional though at times passionate battlefield than an encouraging and compassionate friendship. When Alison gets pregnant she looks for ways to tell it to Jimmy, but he is too busy trying to pick a fight with her and being angry. Alison is getting tired of their constant lack of communication and bickering, and when her friend Helena Charles, who is doing a play called "The forgotten heart" in the city, comes to live with them for two weeks, Jimmy`s fierce anger increases utterly.

This British production considered as the first film from the British cultural movement "kitchen sink realism" which was developed within theater, film, television, art and novels during the late 1950s and early 1960s, marked filmmaker Tony Richardson`s directorial debut in film and was produced by Canadian film and theater producer Harry Saltzman (1915-1994). With its bleak and naturalistic milieu depictions, stringent narrative structure and precise and acute directing, this dialog-driven drama from the late 1950s which examines themes such as marriage, family relations, social distinctions and love, draws an in-depth study of character about an afflicted young man from the working-class in strong opposition to the middle-class who is striving to come to terms with his constant anger while trying to hold on to his serene and reserved wife.

The poignant use of light which is emphasized by British cinematographer Oswald Morris` low-keyed black-and-white cinematography, is present in almost every scene in this romantic, atmospheric and well-paced chamber-piece which is based on author John Osborne`s autobiographical play about his unhappy marriage. This ardent character drama which contains a jazzy score by English composer Chris Barber is significantly reinforced by the empathic and invariably impassioned acting performances by Welsh actor Richard Burton (1925-1984), English actress Claire Bloom, Scottish actress Mary Ure (1933-1975) and English actor Gary Raymond. An incisively written, involving and moving love triangle which gained nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Richard Burton at the 17th Golden Globe Awards in 1960, Best British Actor Richard Burton, Best British Screenplay Nigel Kneale and Best British Film Tony Richardson (1928-1991) at the 13th BAFTA Awards in 1960.
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on 3 December 2013
Burton is spell-binding, young but already at the top of his game as the cruel and resentfull Porter. The supporting cast are very good in this Osborne classic; classic british cinema at it's very best.
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on 3 January 2012
Richard Burton at his gritty best.My wife found it too gritty and not for her but while I can understand this you cannot get away from the powerful performances by all in the film.
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