Jimmy Porter is a loud, obnoxious man, rude and verbally abusive to his wife, Alison. Alison comes from an upper class family that Jimmy abhors and he berates Alison for being too reserved and unfeeling. Jimmy is college educated but works with a partner, Cliff Lewis, as a street vendor operating a candy stall. Cliff lives with Jimmy and Alison and is close friends with both. When Jimmy pushes Alison while she is at the ironing board she is burned. Alison visits her doctor where it is revealed that she is pregnant. She asks him if it is too late to do something about it but the doctor immediately tells her never to mention such an idea. When Jimmy leaves for work, Alison confides to Cliff that she is pregnant. She is frightened of Jimmy's reaction to this news, and has not told him. Jimmy is visited by his childhood nanny, Mrs. Tanner, whom Jimmy loves and calls "Mom." Alison tries to tell Jimmy of the pregnancy but is frustrated when Jimmy insults her for being cool towards Mrs. ... Written by
This low-budget, rather short, black-and-white film reminds me of why I fell in love with movies in the first place, a love which of late has become as taxed and attenuated as that between Allison and James Porter, the protagonists of this movie. Can you believe it? It used to shown on TV, on commercial TV, no less. How things have changed. Not even PBS would have the guts to show it now.
The subject matter is dated, a slice of a culture long dead, based in the class antagonism of post-war Britain. Young people seeing it today probably wouldn't understand the source of the Angry Young Man's anger no one talks about "alienation" any more. Indeed, the young take for granted all the cultural and social changes that anger wrought, for example, punk music, cultural diversity, recreational drugs, social mobility, etc.
Richard Burton concentrates in his one exquisitely shrill soul that big bang, the explosion that gave birth to, as just a few small examples, John Lennon and Billy Bragg's "working-class hero," Sid Vicious, and, across the pond, "Easy Rider." This movie is an historical document, electrified by the energy, the frustration, the impotent rage, the nascent source of it all, of the social upheaval that would sweep over all Western countries in a few short years.
The writing (John Osborne), directing (Tony Richardson), and acting are excellent, of a caliber, intelligence and wit rarely, if ever, seen today, coming directly from the British stage, then in its renaissance.
The feel and look of the film -- its rough edits, gritty urban landscapes, the damaged faces of the extras, the coffin-like claustrophobia of the working-class loft in which at least half of the film takes place, its odd camera angles and, above all, its unadorned matter-of-factness however, have not aged a bit. In fact, by comparison to the tepid fare in art houses today, this little movie jumps off the screen, a real live wire.
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