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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) More at IMDbPro »

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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner -- "Running has always been a big thing in our family. Especially from the police."


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Alan Sillitoe (screenplay)
Alan Sillitoe (short story)
View company contact information for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
8 October 1962 (USA) See more »
A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Angry young man refuses to sell out See more (51 total) »


  (in credits order)

Michael Redgrave ... Ruxton Towers Reformatory Governor

Tom Courtenay ... Colin Smith
Avis Bunnage ... Mrs. Smith

Alec McCowen ... Brown

James Bolam ... Mike
Joe Robinson ... Roach
Dervis Ward ... Detective
Topsy Jane ... Audrey
Julia Foster ... Gladys
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ray Austin ... Craig (uncredited)
John Brooking ... Green (uncredited)
John Bull ... Ronalds (uncredited)
James Cairncross ... Mr. Jones (uncredited)
Dallas Cavell ... Lord Jaspers (uncredited)
Peter Duguid ... Doctor (uncredited)

Charles Dyer ... Bit part (uncredited)
Raymond Dyer ... Gordon (uncredited)

Frank Finlay ... Booking Office Clerk (uncredited)

Edward Fox ... Extra (uncredited)

James Fox ... Willy Gunthorpe - Ranley School Runner (uncredited)
Brian Hammond ... Johnny Smith (uncredited)
William Ash Hammond ... Johnny Smith (uncredited)
Peter Kriss ... Scott (uncredited)
Peter Madden ... Mr. Smith (uncredited)
Philip Martin ... Stacy (uncredited)
Arthur Mullard ... Chief Borstal Officer (uncredited)
Anita Oliver ... Alice Smith (uncredited)
Christopher Parker ... Bill Smith (uncredited)
Robert Percival ... Tory Politician (uncredited)
Doug Robinson ... Prison Warder (uncredited)
Anthony Sagar ... Fenton (uncredited)

John Thaw ... Bosworth (uncredited)
Chris Williams ... Public School Boy (uncredited)

Directed by
Tony Richardson 
Writing credits
Alan Sillitoe (screenplay)

Alan Sillitoe (short story)

Produced by
Michael Holden .... associate producer
Tony Richardson .... producer
Original Music by
John Addison 
Cinematography by
Walter Lassally (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Antony Gibbs 
Production Design by
Ralph W. Brinton  (as Ralph Brinton)
Art Direction by
Ted Marshall 
Costume Design by
Sophie Devine  (as Motley)
Makeup Department
Jimmy Evans .... makeup artist
Bobbie Smith .... hair stylist (as Bobby Smith)
Production Management
Leigh Aman .... production supervisor
Robert Sterne .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Basil Rayburn .... assistant director
John Danischewsky .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Andrew Mollo .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Thomas Erley .... property supervisor (uncredited)
Josie MacAvin .... set dresser (uncredited)
Terry Parr .... prop buyer (uncredited)
Sound Department
Norman Bolland .... sound recordist
Don Challis .... sound editor
Stephen Dalby .... sound director
Tom Buchanan .... boom operator (uncredited)
Karen Heward .... assistant dubbing editor (uncredited)
Derrick Leather .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
Dave Tracey .... stunts (uncredited)
Robin Webb .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Desmond Davis .... camera operator
Fred Anderson .... electrician chargehand (uncredited)
Frank Boston .... camera grip (uncredited)
Aubrey Dewar .... still photographer (uncredited)
Manny Wynn .... focus puller (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Brenda Dabbs .... wardrobe
Editorial Department
Brian Smedley-Aston .... assistant editor
Pamela Milner-Gardner .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
John Addison .... conductor
John Addison .... music arranger
Other crew
Rita Davison .... continuity
Alan Kaplan .... production executive
Patrick Boyle .... production assistant (uncredited)
Jane Moscrop .... production secretary (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
104 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Finland:S | Hong Kong:IIA | Sweden:15 | UK:X (original rating) | UK:12 (re-rating) (2002) | UK:15 (video rating) (1990)

Did You Know?

Tony Richardson's loose filming technique didn't always sit well with Tom Courtenay, even though the result seemed to be a perfect match of acting and directing styles. On the commentary accompanying the British DVD release, the now veteran actor says rather favorably that it sometimes felt like they were shooting a documentary, but in 1962 he noted his surprise, upon first seeing the film, at "just how sloppy and modern it looked" and how he learned on this production that "one of the skills in acting is to take from the director what he can give you that helps, and don't take any notice of what he does or doesn't do that upsets your performance."See more »
Miscellaneous: When the boys are doing gardening work one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). This is incorrectly recorded in the subtitles as "you muppet" but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made.See more »
[first lines]
Colin Smith:Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Under the Double EagleSee more »


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Angry young man refuses to sell out, 28 February 2009
Author: George Wright from Canada

Tom Courtenay is brilliant in this film. In this role, he is smart and more than a match for the police and his mother's insolent boyfriend. And he is not lacking in social skills. The music is brooding and jazzy, depending on the mood. The black/white film captures the prevailing mood particularly the rain, mud and fog. At another time, we see Colin and his girlfriend walking on the beach. A touching scene, we get the feeling that this was his real moment of happiness.

In this movie, directed by Tony Richardson, Tom Courtenay plays Colin Smith, the angry young man role – a staple of British cinema in the 1960's. Tom Courtenay went on to make a number of first-rate films and receive a number of awards, not least of which was a knighthood from the Queen.

The film deals with a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who clearly feels the pain and resentment that his life brings. The father dies leaving behind a young family, probably as a result of working conditions, harassment, burnout, and the other ailments of the industrial economy that sapped the lifeblood of working class males. Colin, the eldest son of the family is in a reform school by day where the boys are treated with about as much respect (lack of respect) as their fathers received in society.

Upon her husband's death, his mother collects 500 pounds from the firm where he was employed and her face shows the hurt and bitterness; it took his death to give them some material reward. She proceeds to spend the money on television, clothing, and a new bed (to be shared with the new boyfriend). Material possessions and pleasures are the carrots that are dangled in front of working class people. The eldest son Colin, Tom Courtenay, shows his contempt by burning the pound note his mother gives to him. He is so filled with anger and despair that nothing motivates him anymore. In one touching moment in the film, the young man knowing his father is about to die, goes into his room and places the blankets over him. It is almost as if he understands what his life was like and was now about to be set free. Just my take on this short scene.

As for the boy, the preferential treatment he starts to receive at school is offered in exchange for his expected victory in an athletic competition, long-distance running. A lean, fit youth, he excels in track and other sports. This catches the attention of the headmaster Ruxton Towers, performed by Michael Redgrave, who desires nothing more than to impress the Board of Governors with the school's prowess, particularly against a rival school in an upcoming event. Michael Redgrave is superb in a less than attractive role as the arrogant headmaster who feels his main responsibility is to keep the boys in check through humiliation and authoritarian rule, except when it is in his interest to use them for his own purposes.

The atmosphere is bleak and it is an irony to watch the boys sing the hymn Jerusalem at the tops of their voices with images of dark Satanic mills as Christians take up the fight to build a new Jerusalem in England. This song of social democracy gives some indication of the political stripes of the directors who made these angry young man movies. One thinks that their view of the working class, while sincere, had more than a little dislike for their lifestyle. Perhaps they pitied them.

The black and white photography is as stark as the movie itself. Avis Bunnage is Mrs. Smith and William Ash Hammond, the terminally ill father. James Bolam, who has a filmography that goes back to the early 60's is Colin's best friend. James Fox is the runner for the other school in the final challenge that pits him against our anti-hero Colin. Alec McCowen plays the role of a colleague of Ruxton Towers. A young John Thaw had a role in this movie as one of the reform school lads. He later went on to be Inspector Morse in the Morse television series. Julia Foster is the girlfriend, who later acted in Alfie.

A great cast for a film from the archives of Britain's best.

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