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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' (1962)


"What's the frst thing you'd do if you won 75,000?"
-"Count it !"


Tony Richardson's 1962 film starring Tom Courtenay is part of a glut of British films from the 60's that had an 'angry young man' vibe. Courtenay plays Colin Smith, who is a petty thief completely disaffected from society. Colin hates money, as it has led to his family's miserable life. He doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps who worked hard all his life and died before retirement.

We see Smith entering borstal for a crime he has committed, then Richardson uses flashbacks to tell his back story, his home life, his relationships and the events that led up to the crime he committed. The film borrows heavily from French new wave cinema and Italian neo realism, and it does so very well. There are marks of Truffaut, Goddard and de Sica all over it; with Colin's poverty stricken family being of particular focus.

Colin learns that he's quite good at long distance running, symbolistic of running away from his problems, and the finale is a brilliant scene where Colin has one final say on the system that he's found himself in. This film would have been a large inspiration for the likes of Ken Loach, and is possibly one of the very best British films of the 1960s.