THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER (Tony Richardson, 1962)

Those foolish enough to plead British director Tony Richardson’s case in film—apparently Richardson did better in theater—always consider as their heaviest piece of artillery The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, written by Alan Sillitoe from his own short story, and starring the always dreadful, thuddingly selfconscious Tom Courtenay (best actor, Mar del Plata), here in his star-making portrait of alienated, rebellious working-class youth. Colin Smith belongs in a reformatory, which is where we eventually find him after he trips on a literary echo of Jean Valjean by robbing a bakery. But how that boy can run!
     And when he does, because it is the family-thing to do (run away from things, that is) and because “the Governor” of Ruxton Towers Reformatory (Michael Redgrave, acting horribly for a change) has his interested eye on the boy (if you know what I mean), Colin flashes back to times lost so that those who champion Richardson can rave like lunatics about how he conflates, bends and otherwise plays with Time. In Richardson’s case, however, there’s no Resnaising of the bridge, no piercing meditation on time and experience, and the result of those prettily black-and-white photographed scenes of the boy running, running add only thuddingly selfconscious poetry to an already numbingly dull film. Artsy-fartsy we used to call this sort of pretentious trash.
     Colin is, of course, an “angry young man” who was born in a kitchen sink at the Princess Theater—oh, I’m getting bad movies mixed up here; his integrity supposedly arises from his ultimate refusal to cede to the Governor’s abuse of authority, a stand-in for the British class system.
     However, the Governor’s symbolical function turns out to be Richardson’s means of avoiding altogether any serious social analysis.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s