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
The film's backers insisted that a name actor be cast in the lead, over the unknown Kenneth Haigh who had been so successful in the stage version. Richard Burton agreed to take on the part at a much lower fee than his usual Hollywood salary. See more »
To watch "Look Back In Anger" so many decades after its brief era of relevancy is to encounter a head-scratchingly pointless film and wonder what all of the yelling was about. This dank and claustrophobic look at one of Britain's army of post-war "Angry Young Men" might be a tad more bearable were Richard Burton asked to take it down a notch. Burton's endless bellowing (second only to Peter O'Toole's bray-as-acting style) is ill served by it never being made quite clear just what this guy is so miffed at all the time.
Surrounded by characters that either incomprehensibly find him a lovable lad (Gary Raymond, Edith Evans) or serve as doormats (Mary Ure, Claire Bloom), Burton's character is given free rein to act like a colicky brat for most of the film without ever giving us much of a clue as to the root of his dissatisfaction. Brief references to Britain's class system, racial injustice, loss of loved ones and any number of social ills feel insufficient as explanations to the source of Burton's unpleasant personality. After 40 minutes or so of being subjected to one narcissistically histrionic rage after another, one just wishes he'd shut up and realize that he isn't the only one suffering he's just the only one who seems hell-bent on making sure others are as miserable as he is.
That being said,the entire film is not devoid of certain pleasures (the photography is appropriately dingy, Claire Bloom is always a delight and Gary Raymond, so good in "Suddenly Last Summer," was a real surprise here with a more sizable role) but it's near unbearable being subjected to a film about a man feeling sorry for himself non-stop. It struck me as being sophomoric in theory and tedious in execution.
If this film reminds me on anything, it's of an episode of "The Flintstones" where Fred is cast with wife Wilma in a kitchen-sink domestic drama about an abusive, lout of a husband and his meek wife. The show's title: "The Frogmouth," a perfect subtitle for this mess- Richard Burton in "Look Back in Anger aka The Frogmouth."
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