Poor Cow [DVD] 
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Kitchen sink drama directed by Ken Loach. Young mother Joy (Carol White) is forced to fend for herself when her brutal and uncaring husband, Tom (John Bindon), is put in jail. Joy finds brief happiness with Tom's criminal associate Dave (Terence Stamp), who proves kind and gentle when she moves in with him, but this relationship ends when he is also jailed, and Joy is left to raise her young son alone in squalid circumstances.
"I fell in the family way when I was 18 and I got married to a right bastard". Ken Loach's debut feature tells the story of Joy, a young mother (Carol White) whose chauvinistic thug of a husband is thrown into prison. She takes up with one of his friends, lovable, kind-hearted burglar Terence Stamp, but he too ends up in jail.
It's intriguing to compare Poor Cow with Cathy Come Home, which Loach made for TV with the same actress at around the same time. Both are about mums trying to make a go of their lives in adverse circumstances. Cathy Come Home, shot in black and white, is an altogether tougher film. Poor Cow, with its Donovan music, gaudy colour photography, star names, and incongruously bawdy humour, seems lightweight by comparison. Certain sequences--Joy making love in the hay or posing half-naked for lecherous amateur photographers--must surely make Loach grimace now. There are some powerful moments--Joy desperately looking for her son who has wandered off, unattended, onto a building site, or trying to escape from her abusive husband--which anticipate such later Loach films as Ladybird, Ladybird or Raining Stones. The scenes between Joy and Stamp are played with real tenderness and humour. Don't be surprised if you think you've seen them before--some of the footage of Stamp was used in Steven Soderbergh's recent thriller, The Limey. --Geoffrey Macnab --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Poor cow runs for approx. 98 minutes and has a 15 recommended age restriction. There are no special features on this disc and no subtitles. Filmed in English.
Carol White is superb as Joy, whose first name is not as ironic as it may seem. Her life may well be a vortex of poverty, squalor and unhappiness, but White (through her acting) and Loach (through his direction) portray the character with compassion and strength as someone who is sassy and fun. This same compassion shows through in all the other characters too. There are quite a few bright moments that shine through. The scenes of Joy with her little son, Johnny, are particularly touching and very, very well-done. The location filming around Wales is visually stunning, as indeed is the opening sequence! (I will say no more about this!)
Terence Stamp is also amazing in this film, as are all of the supporting cast. Watch out for John Bindon who somehow steals the show with his brilliant-but-awful acting in his début performance as Tom Steadman!
The theme song, specially adapted and performed by Donovan, is haunting and in a way, ironic, for John Bindon's life ended early at the age of 50, as, for that matter, did Carol White's.
This film is a real rough diamond and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I am grateful to Ken Loach for having the guts and tenacity to bring to this film to life. Poor Cow documents the lives of the underdogs and is an important and interesting piece of cinema that will always have a special place in my heart.
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