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James Robertson Justice
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A young British clerk in a gloomy North Country undertaker's office, Billy is bombarded daily by the propaganda of the media that all things are for the asking. This transparently false doctrine, coupled with the humdrum job and his wild imagination, leads him on frequent flights to "Ambrosia," a mythical kingdom where he is crowned king, general, lover or any idealized hero the real situation of the moment makes him desire. His vacillating commitment and post-adolescent immaturity have created situations which make Ambrosia all the more attractive. He's succeeded in becoming engaged to two different girls, simultaneously, while in love with a third, Liz. He's in hot water with his employer, having spent a rather large sum of postage money on his personal frivolities. And last, but not least, his dream of becoming a highly-paid, famous scriptwriter in London seems doomed to failure. The only person in his life capable of bringing him down to earth is Liz, and she's having a difficult ... Written by
Topsy Jane can still be seen in long-shot in some sequences, notably when Billy and Liz wave to the people of Ambrosia from the balcony. See more »
[after Billy reopens the door]
You rotten. lying, crossed-eyed git. You're nothing else.
William Terrence 'Billy' Fisher:
[clearly not wanting her to come inside]
Hello, Rita. Sorry, I can't ask you in. We're havin' our chimney swept.
They'll be havin' you swept before I finish.
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A north of England funeral clerk is bored with his life and builds a world of elaborate lies to compensate for it.
A classic of the English kitchen sink period, but it will not have full impact unless you are coming to it fresh and without prejudice. As someone that was forced to read the book several times at school I find the material and the morals worn thin - especially when it was later turned in to a TV series and then a musical!
(The reason why it is so popular is that is about the limits of (English) working class life and, and if you are working class yourself, you are supposed to be able to "relate to it." Other suchlike novels (and later films) include Kes (which is better), A Taste of Honey (which is far better) and the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (which is even better still.)
Good portrait of grey working class life in the sixties (if you are at all interested) and a template for a million films and television series to come (all barbs, mini jokes and evasions over the family breakfast table). While Billy is not always likeable, the people around him seem to put up with him and give him a second, third and fourth chance. We are not really living in the world of heroes and villains.
If you live in a world of lies, you drown in a world of lies, but I knew that without seeing this film. A lot is also cribbed from the Secret Life of Walter Mittey - another film that didn't live up to the book.
Thankfully lead Tom Courtney's performance is first class, indeed I have never seem him get a bad notice in anything. Even today when he himself is the parent doing the "what time do you call this?"
(Check out "Let Him Have It" if you want to experience the above.)
While a good and watchable film with high production values, I recommend you read the Keith Waterhouse novel which paints the period between childhood and being an adult in detailed and believable colours.
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