Billy Liar (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent performance by Tom Courtenay. It is one of those in which a performer occupies a role so thoroughly that it is hard to imagine anyone else (excepting maybe Peter... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michael Clark
This film followed major successes by both its director, John Schlesinger, who was coming off A kind of Loving, and Its star, Tom Courtenay, who had just established himself as a... Read morePublished 6 months ago by johnf
An old classic that was mostly very funny, if not a bit disorganized. I loved the ending.Published 20 months ago by Sandra Kramer
This might be the saddest film I've ever seen. It sometimes takes so little to turn your life around, or at least to try, a train ticket to London in this case, but even that is... Read morePublished 21 months ago by L. Monstuart
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 morePublished on April 11, 2014 by Kaleberg
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 morePublished on October 18, 2013 by Christopher Culver
I saw the stage version with Albert Finney then the movie with Tom Courtnay when it was first released. Read morePublished on October 6, 2013 by Harold R. D. Jordan
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 on December 7, 2012 by APanos1
Tom Courtnay and a stunning Julie Christie light up this comedy set in Bradford, northern England in the early 1960s. Read morePublished on May 11, 2012 by Alan A. Elsner
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