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Billy Liar - 50th Anniversary Edition  [Blu-ray]
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Tom Courtenay delivers a star-making turn as William Terrence Fisher (‘Billy Liar’) in one of the most memorable and universally acclaimed films of the 60s.
Running from an unsympathetic working-class family, a pair of demanding fiancées and an insecure job at an undertakers, Billy escapes, Walter Mitty-like, into a world of fantasy where he can realize his dream ambitions. As work and family pressures build to new intolerable levels, Liz (an early, charismatic turn from Julie Christie), enters his drab life and offers Billy the one real chance he’ll ever get to leave the past behind.
Scripted by Keith Waterhouse from his own novel, and sensitively directed by John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy), Billy Liar is one of the few comedies of the British ‘New Wave’, marrying visual and verbal wit with a rather poignant rumination on the futility of dreams.
• Remembering Billy Liar with Tom Courtenay and Helen Fraser
• Interview with Richard Ayoade
• A look through the Keith Waterhouse Archive with British Library Curator Zoe Wilcox
• Interview with Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley
• Stills Gallery
The late John Schlesinger's Billy Liar benefits from a wonderful 50th birthday present here, as it makes its Blu-ray debut. The movie, which stars Tom Courtenay in the lead role, is based on the novel by Keith Waterhouse. Waterhouse also wrote the screenplay to the film, which follows the title character as his imagination helps build him an escape from his otherwise drab day to day life. The marriage of fantasy and reality proves a tricky one too, and it's to the credit of Schlesinger that the film blends together as well as it does. Not for nothing is Billy Liar regarded as one of the best British films of all time.
This new Blu-ray edition now only benefits from a quality restoration of the film, but it's also boasting some impressive extra features. For instance, Tom Courtenay and Helen Fraser are brought together to look back at the movie in one added feature, whilst huge fan of the movie, Richard Ayoada, is interviewed about it too. There's some compelling archive material that's also been brought together for the release, and it's easy to lose yourself in it. It's a substantive collection, for a genuine 1960s British classic. And the film, crucially, holds up a treat. --Jon Foster
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Top Customer Reviews
Tom Courtenay is William Fisher, a young man with problems. He doesn't like his job as a funeral furnishings employee, he still lives at his parents's home and spends a lot of time lying to his two girlfriends. In order to quit for a while his everyday life, he has created an imaginary world - Ambrosia - that has got some resemblance with the South or Central America bananas republics of the sixties. He is the leader of this country and people adore him. In short, he is an escapist.
BILLY LIAR has been shot partly on location, partly in studio and I often had the feeling to watch two different movies on the screen. Like Billy. The destructions of buildings shown throughout the movie add to the strange impression that a world is collapsing. When Billy meets Liz, played by a terrific Julie Christie, he has the opportunity of his life to give some reality to his dreams because Liz is so real. Let's admire how John Schlesinger, in a french New Wave style, films her strolling in the streets. A great moment of cinema.
Comedy, social study or metaphor on the Cinema, BILLY LIAR can easily be seen at different levels and is, in my opinion, a valuable addition to your library....
Once again, the British lose out to the 'that'll do' mentality and get a very shoddy product. Billy Liar is the best film ever made, and deserves better.
In the days before franking machines, the stamp tin was the personal perquisite (perk) of the junior clerk of the office.
When Billy tries to hand in his notice at the Undertakers where he works, he is told that it will not be accepted until "the stamp book balances".
The piles of unposted Christmas calendards hidden in Billy's bedroom always bring back guilty memories for me!
Also, this movie caused me to fall in love with a young and impossibly beautiful Julie Christie.
A great piece of 1960's Northern life.
Buy and enjoy
Tom Courtnay plays Billy Fisher who has an insecure job at an undertakers and spends a lot of his time living in a fantasy world called "Ambrosia" where he lives out his ideals, hopes and ambitions. Ridiculed by his old fashioned father (Wilfrid Pickles) when Billy explains that he has a chance of being a scriptwriter in London, and nagged by his mother (Mona Washbourne) he longs to escape from this world of drudgery. As he sinks deeper and deeper into his fantasties (some of the scenes here are hilarious; especially when he imagines himself machine gunning down his nagging parents) he feels that his life is becoming even more intolerable. Then one day, he meets . . . .
Thats the story so far, watch the rest, for when Julie Christie in one of her early film roles, arrives on the scene, she offers Billy an opportunity to get on with his life anew.
Even after all these years, I still find this film wonderfully refreshing and quite funny in parts. Adapted from his own novel and play by Keith Waterhouse with Wilis Hall as his co-writer, the script has stood up well. It is a very human, warm and witty story which eventually tranferred well to the small screen and on the stage as a musical. It also brought together two screen actors who became legends of the British screen; Tom Courtnay and Julie Christie. (Both were reunited in David Lean's Dr Zhivago released in 1965).
On the disc, the only extra is a trailer. Picture and sound are good, making this a worthwhile purchase.
This is a great film. The characters are brilliant and the cast play their parts to a tee. The storyline is poignant, witty and insightful and makes you feel a little uncomfortable as, I'm sure, there is a varying degree of Tom Courtenays's character in all of us.
It's difficult to comment much more on the film without giving the plot away but I very much recommend it to anyone both as a very enjoyable story but also as a thoughtful look at a person's mentality and how they deal with their situation, their hopes and their fears in giving up their current lot and breaking free.
And Julie Christie is simply georgeous!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I saw this on TV many years ago, and I have this version (2006). My version is black and white- which I expected, but no subtitles! Shame! Read morePublished 15 days ago by Greg Chapman
Brilliant film & superb acting by Tom Courtenay. Fascinating film as well as the story as it is set in a lost era. Recommended.Published 5 months ago by Manda (Oxon, UK)
Wasn't impressed with this dvd, very silly,not a good comedy at all.Published 7 months ago by anne maddock