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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner + Saturday Night and Sunday Morning + This Sporting Life (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Redgrave, Tom Courtenay, Avis Bunnage, Alec McCowen, James Bolam
  • Directors: Tony Richardson
  • Writers: Alan Sillitoe
  • Producers: Tony Richardson, Michael Holden
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000JYW5E6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,975 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

A young rebel is chosen to represent his reform school in a track race.Running Time: 104 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA UPC: 085391116868 Manufacturer No: 111686

Customer Reviews

Tom Courtenay as Colin in the lead role is excellent.
"Belgo Geordie"
For me "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" remains the pinnacle of this movement.
Shaun Anderson
And yet we also want him to win the race and move into a more privileged life.
Linda Linguvic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 25, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this British film when it first came out in 1962 and never forgot it. I even remember an argument I had with my aunt about its controversial theme - that of an alienated angry young man who defiantly refuses to conform to the system. Shot in black and white, the video stars Tom Courtenay as a working class Nottingham youth who is sent to a reformatory because of a robbery. Michael Redgrave is cast as the warden, referred to as the "governor" as this is a British film. It is a modern reformatory, and plans are being made to for it to compete in sports with a private school. The long distance run is considered the biggest prize and Courtenay is granted special privileges as he stands out as someone who could actually win. He's allowed to take long runs outside of the reformatory gates each day, and the cinematography here is outstanding. During these runs, Courtenay experiences flashbacks of his life and we see a picture of its grimness. We see his anger at the system and admire him for belief in his ideals. And yet we also want him to win the race and move into a more privileged life. Finally the day of the run arrives. And young Courtenay makes his decision. It is startling and yet something we can understand. No wonder it's haunted me all these years.
Now, watching the video all these years later, I found it a little slow for my taste, especially since I already knew the ending. And, also, as with many British films on video, I sometimes wish there were subtitles. But this is a film that makes me think. I think about choices I've made in my own life. I think about how they turned out. And I think about the message of the film - still fresh after all this time. Recommended.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By nick minorsky on August 21, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This British film is a stark masterful portrayal of a young working class man, and the urban world he is trapped inside. The black and white photography lends a honest depiction of his tough bare existence. Colin watches his foolish widowed mother fritter away her meagre inheritance, and he seems to be as incarcerated in this world, as in the reform school he ends up in, after a bungled robbery. His stolen cash, stashed away in a drain pipe at the front door, floats out during a rainy day at the very feet of a detective making inquiries at his house. So it goes for Colin, a man trapped at every turn. His life gets a lift when he joins the cross country team at the reform school. The scenes of him running freely through the woods during meets are poetry on film. Colin lashes out against his fate and lot with one bold pause at the end. His expression as he stands there is priceless. This film's images will last with the viewer for a life time. This is great art.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Sanchez VINE VOICE on June 4, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This was the story later used in the American film with Burt Reynolds, The Longest Yard. British actor, Tom Courtenay, in his first major film role plays the downcast, but likeable youth from the seedy side of town.
Courtenay's character is saturated with events in his life for which he has no control. He lives in poverty, his father dies, his mother's waiting in the wings-boyfriend is a jerk, and he has no job skills or future. He is ultimately placed in a youth detention facility where he finds, to his warden's joy, that he has athletic ability. He is ambivalent about this skill, but he can obtain privileges and possible early freedom if only he wins the running trophy for the warden.
The Burt Reynolds film, centered on his character developing an interest in his fellow prisoners to decide on how to respond to the warden's promised rewards and punishments. The British version focuses almost completely on the character's internal conflict. Ultimately, his decision is based on how he could best gain an aspect of control in his life. His decision is based not for his peers, and not for the authorities, but for his own sense of self. Aspects of the youth prison may seem funny by today's standard, but the story remains fresh and interesting. I highly recommend it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Analogue on January 3, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Tony Richardon's grim evocation of the experience of one bottom feeder at the low base of Britain's crumbling class pyramid features editing as harsh - and cinematically effective, especially in the film's well-placed flahsbacks - as this story of hard-bitten young Colin Smith (grittily portrayed by Tom Courtenay). For a petty theft Smith is sentenced to borstal (reform school) where his speed in the long distance run elevates him, in the eyes of his inmate brethren, to become the "guvnor's blue-eyed boy", because the warden's goal is to win the special long distance running cup in the borstal's trial athletic competition against an upper-class public school. Smith finds himself trapped between the guvnor's self-serving, manipulative solicitude and the class-based peer pressure of his borstal mates. Courtenay plays out Smith's repsonse to his dilemma with breathless, bristling, teeth-clenched defiance that the film, grippingly, doesn't reveal until its withering dénouement.
Avis Bunnage lends a biting performance as Smith's mother: a woman hardened by her straitened life circumstance as the working class widow of a resentful factory worker, struggling on welfare to raise her children in a grimy, shabbily built, claustrophobic low-income dwelling. Alec McCowen, as the borstal's pyschologist, deftly adds depth to the story as a well-meaning advocate of fresh approaches to rehabilitating inmates, whose efforts are trumped by the warden's timeworn methods. As the warden Michael Redgrave communicates all that's right - and wrong - about the upper reaches of the class pyramid.
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