Tony Richardson's first film is this adaptation of John Osborne's landmark play, as Britain's two leading Angry Young Men fired the opening salvo in the war on the false values of their post-World War II society. To a theater audience accustomed to the whodunits of J.B. Priestley, the period verse drama of Christopher Fry, and the drawing room comedy of NoŽl Coward, the scathing epigrams of Osborne's Jimmy Porter burned like napalm. Richard Burton stars as the disenchanted Jimmy, a university graduate from a working-class background, currently running a candy stall on the street by day and playing jazz at night. He shares a flat with wife Alison (Mary Ure) and, while there, spends much of his time venting his spleen against the British class system, conventional society, the couple's poverty, his wife's upper-crust family, and, most of all, his wife and himself, among a wide array of targets. Kenneth Tynan described the couple as "two attractive young animals engaged in competitive martyrdom," a succinct summary. After a particularly intense session, Alison's actress friend Helena (Claire Bloom) suggests that she leave Jimmy, and she does. Burton gives arguably his best performance on film, backed by a powerhouse supporting cast that includes Edith Evans and Donald Pleasence. Richardson is brilliant in his film debut, keeping the camera close enough to tell which barbs are really landing in these wounded characters.
In LOOK BACK IN ANGER, a university graduate rebels against the middle-class values he has been taught all his life to accept. Burton excels in the film's "angry young man" central role.
Campus Life |
Character Study |
Shot at Shepperton Studios in the U.K.
Director Tony Richardson didn't want a star of Richard Burton's magnitude in the lead role, believing it would throw off the balance of the play.
Richardson credited cameraman Oswald Morris and art director Peter Glazier with having taught him how to use the medium to best advantage.
At the time this film was made, playwright John Osborne was married to actress Mary Ure. They were later divorced, and she eventually married actor-playwright Robert Shaw.
The film was originally rated BBFC X (no one under 16 could see it in Britain) by the British Board of Film Censors.