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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 7 February 2003
... A superb widescreen copy, english subtitles, a commentary by John Schlesinger and Julie Christie (not very interesting), a theatrical trailer and a 15 minutes excerpt from a BBC serie about british cinema (very interesting) are offered as bonus features.
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....
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on 20 January 2002
Go to and order the American version instead. Sharper, widescreen print, plus commentaries from Schlesinger/Courtney/Christie, original trailers, and a clip of the 1993 Northern Lights documentary (Waterhouse and Hall revisiting locations etc). None of which are on this UK disc.
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.
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on 4 October 2007
As a 18 year old when I first saw this,it convinced me that I was not nuts and that other people had their own fantasy worlds just like Billy's "Ambrosia".
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
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VINE VOICEon 3 February 2010
Released in 1962 just as the long period of Austerity was coming to an end in Britain, this fine comedy epitomises the era in which it is set, notably the drab working class sector when young men and women were leaving school and were expected to drift into factories, shops, stores or wherever work was available.

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.
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on 10 May 2006
A great deal is said that Billy Liar is set 'Up North' and 'in the swinging sixties' which is true and all the better for it but the story it tells is just as relevant to anywhere and anytime and is, as such, timeless and placeless.

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!

Excellent entertainment.
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on 28 December 2000
'Billy Liar' isn't just about life 'oop north! It always was and always has been far less simplistic than those other gritty genres . It's whole being revolves around life's limits and how much you're prepared to trap yourself and be trapped by your own personal circumstances.It alternately lifts and drops you on waves of ambient humour and self-pity. I defy you to watch this and not want to lift yourself above the ordinary humdrum of life and, perhaps, leave something a little more remarkable behind than a crumpled up memo reminding yourself to one day do something amazing!
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on 10 June 2011
Filmed 1962 mainly Leeds & Bradford. Nearly half a century, 49 years ago. Partly depends on your age and the film's relevance to you.

All Civic Buildings black from industrial soot, Leeds Town Hall, most of Bradford and West Yorks. Sandblasting was 1970's 80's. 1950's Semis had electricity and coal fires. Gas, colour tele, and Northern Ireland all to come.

Now knocking down the new stuff that was (then - circa 1960) going up.

Billy's house 37 Hinchliffe Ave, Baildon (adjoining Midland Road:- the hill down from his house)and the local semis looked fairly new, then.

Scene-spotters delight. The final scene Billy misses the train, leaves Liz. Assumed the night shot of him walking home up the road of semis was Midland Road (with his imagined army).

Final scene actually was shot from roughly No 21 Spennithorne Avenue, Lawnswood, Leeds 16, looking roughly S/E downhill. Took us 2 years to track and verify that.

Billy walks up alone from junction Spennithorne Drive. The unique iron gates of No16 are centre-shot, by the (now moved) street light. Still there 49 years on. Billy marches, but then edits him back to Midland Road Baildon, and home.
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on 2 February 2004
A surreal comedy set during England’s swinging sixties. Tom Courtney is unbelievably funny as a working class boy unable to leave the safety of his family home and venture out on his own. He creates a fantastic world he retreats to when his daily encounters and unconventional actions get out of hand. Not even Julie Christie can drag him out into reality.
One of the most entertaining films in cinema history, Billy Liar is a universal character that has surely set the bases for many slacker characters in film since then.
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on 20 June 2015
Brilliant old black and white film. One of the classics from the early 60s. The extras on the DVD where Tom C and his leading lady are interviewed and talk about the making of the film is very good and entertaining.
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on 5 December 2012
I could never work out whether I loved this film because of my nostalgia for old Bradford, or because it was a classic kitchen-sink comedy. After seeing it on sparkling DVD all these years later it is because of lashes of both. Bradford in those days had real character, and it was great seeing the legendary Locarno Mecca in all its glory on a Saturday night. As for the film- it sums up the post-war older generation superbly- slightly bigoted, and contemptous of modern ideas with Wilfred Pickles epitomising it superbly. A young Julie Christie represented the coming swinging sixties,with it's half-baked pretentions but glorious optimism. This is a superb social commentary of the early sixties with its brave new world. Those who lived through it will recognise some character in this film. As good as Tom Courtenay was it was the supporting actors/actresses that grabbed me.
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