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Billy Liar (The Criterion Collection) (1963)

Tom Courtenay , Julie Christie , John Schlesinger  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie, Wilfred Pickles, Mona Washbourne, Ethel Griffies
  • Directors: John Schlesinger
  • Writers: Keith Waterhouse, Willis Hall
  • Producers: Jack Rix, Joseph Janni
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 10, 2001
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005EBSB
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,594 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Billy Liar (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Excerpts from "Northern Lights," an episode of the BBC series Hollywood U.K.: British Cinema in the Sixties, hosted by Richard Lester

Editorial Reviews

Tom Courtenay gives a flawlessly nuanced performance as Billy Fisher, the underachieving undertaker's assistant whose constant daydreams and truth-deficient stories earn him the nickname "Billy Liar." Julie Christie is the handbag-swinging charmer whose free spirit just might inspire Billy to finally move out of his parents' house. Deftly veering from gritty realism to flamboyant fantasy, Billy Liar is a dazzling and uproarious classic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kitchen Sink Comedy That Still Makes You Laugh November 25, 2001
Format:DVD
"Billy Liar" was made in 1963 three years after my birth and I can just remember Britian being like this; but it is not just a nostalgia trip. This is a beautifully executed piece of film making works from the opening, when we see a nation's homemakers brought together by the BBC's "Housewife's Choice", to the end when the battered and degected Billy walks up the hill to his parents semi-detached house at the head of his make believe army.
In between we get to witness Billy's fantastic imagination at work vividly brought to life in mock news-reel form and the chaos of his real life as his past mistakes catch up and eventually overwelm him.
The central problem Billy faces is one that most if not all young people experience at some time; the desire to do something great and become important and the feeling that they are being constrained and inhibited by the older generation's lack of vision.
It is not easy to distinguish who is responsible for what. The writers Wallis Hall and Keith Waterhouse obviously deserve a great deal of credit as they also wrote the novel and stage play but John Schlesenger's direction and the superb cast bring the film to life.
Schlesenger came from a BBC television background and the opening sequence as well as the Danny Boon character seem very authentic. Danny Boon, played by Leslie Randall, is the type of British comedian that used to and in some cases still does, present game shows on television in the UK complete with irritating catch phrases and over fimiliarity with middle aged women. Intrestingly Wilfred Pickels, who plays Billy's father, was previously best known for his radio quiz show "Have a Go" but he is now best remembered for his roll here.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CINDERELLA July 22, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
John Schlesinger's BILLY LIAR has just entered the DVD market thanks to Criterion. 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.
A DVD zone Hillary.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Entertaining, Thoughtful, Cinematic September 7, 2001
Format:DVD
I am full of admiration for Schlesinger's film. It stands in a tradition of many great British movies that managed to make something truly cinematic out of stage material (another outstanding example would be David Lean's 1945 'Brief Encounter').
The film follows a young man of 19 by the name of Billy Fisher. In the small Yorkshire town of Stradhoughton (fictional I am sure), Billy copes with the mundanity of everyday life by creating for himself an inner world of fantasy to which he retreats continually. Courtenay is superb as the perpetual liar and daydreamer, and the supporting cast is equally excellent. Denys Coop's photography. Is reminiscent of the French New Wave, particularly the opening scenes which echo the opening of Truffaut's 'Les 400 Coups,' the beautiful scenes of Julie Christie as she skips her way through the streets, and the final shots of Billy's street which have a 'cinema verite' look. The editing, especially in the fantasy sequences, brings a uniquely cinematic dimension to what could have easily been done in a more cliched style.
Schlesinger presents a very moving, and very human, fable. Towards the end, as Billy marches through the empty streets, humming the last post, following the death of his grandmother, there is a real air of pathos. Similarly, we get interesting insights into the character of Billy as, waiting to board the train to London, he clutches two cartons of milk to his chest, a touching maternal symbol. Again, there are clear echoes of the scene in Truffaut's 'Les 400 Coups' in which the young Antoine Doinel steals, having run away from home, steals a bottle of milk from a doorway.
This is not to say that the film is an incredibly sophisticated look into characters and personalities, but it touches upon some very human and profound moments.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A very sad story
This is a technically well made and extremely evocative movie that tells the sad story of a young man lacking in talent and courage. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kaleberg
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting as a time capsule of early-1960s Britain, but weakened by...
Billy Liar is a 1963 British film that captures the monumentous changes of the era: the sexual revolution and the destruction of England's old town centres in modernisation... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Christopher Culver
4.0 out of 5 stars Old memories
I saw the stage version with Albert Finney then the movie with Tom Courtnay when it was first released. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Harold R. D. Jordan
3.0 out of 5 stars That's What a Pathological Liar Is.
Viewed: 9/13
Rate: 5

9/13: Billy Liar is a good portrayal of a pathological liar. However, it's not a fun film to sit through. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Austin Somlo
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
This is the debut film for Julie Christie. The film shows a graphic depiction of England in the early sixties. All in all a very unique film.
Published 20 months ago by APanos1
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine performances in this time capsule from the sixties
Tom Courtnay and a stunning Julie Christie light up this comedy set in Bradford, northern England in the early 1960s. Read more
Published on May 11, 2012 by Alan A. Elsner
3.0 out of 5 stars He Confuses His Fantasy Life with Real Life
"Billy Liar," (1963), is generally considered a British comedy classic, as it adds some romance, some drama, and some sci-fi fantasy to its screwball beginnings. Read more
Published on December 6, 2011 by Stephanie De Pue
3.0 out of 5 stars For Julie Christie fans
Tom Courtenay stars as Billy, an unhappy clerk who still lives at home with his impatient family. To escape the drudgery of his life, Billy passes the time telling outrageous lies... Read more
Published on January 21, 2010 by Kona
4.0 out of 5 stars Picture quality
Excellent movie. Some parts were hard to make out, particularly towards the end, owing to poor picture quality.
However, at $1:97, a great bargain. Read more
Published on December 5, 2009 by Mr. John Thwaite
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it...
It's a little immature and it seems to go no where for a while, but in the end `Billy Liar' proves itself well worth the journey; that's for sure. Read more
Published on December 15, 2008 by Andrew Ellington
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