7.5/10
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Billy Liar (1963)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 16 December 1963 (USA)
A lazy, irresponsible young clerk in provincial Northern England lives in his own fantasy world and makes emotionally immature decisions as he alienates friends and family.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Nominated for 6 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Wilfred Pickles ...
Mona Washbourne ...
...
Grandma Florence
...
Duxbury
Gwendolyn Watts ...
Rita
Helen Fraser ...
Barbara
...
Liz
...
...
Arthur Crabtree
George Innes ...
Stamp
Leslie Randall ...
Danny Boon
...
Insp. MacDonald
Ernest Clark ...
Prison Governor
Godfrey Winn ...
Disc Jockey
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Storyline

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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

one guy... three girls... one ring!

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 December 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A hazudós Billy  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$10,785 (USA) (17 November 2000)

Gross:

$35,609 (USA) (1 December 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Albert Finney originated the title role of "Billy Liar" before it was taken over by Courtney. See more »

Quotes

Emanuel Shadrack: So that's your ambition, is it? Scriptwriting?
William Terrence 'Billy' Fisher: Oh, yes, it always has been.
Emanuel Shadrack: Do you get a salary each week then, or do you get paid by the joke?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Song of the Clyde
(uncredited)
Lyrics by R.Y. Bell
Music by Ian Gourlay
Performed by Kenneth McKellar
See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderful British classic
11 December 2002 | by See all my reviews

Effective slice of life comedy/drama tells the story of scared, optimistic Billy (Tom Courtenay) who lives in a fantasy world where he's always a hero. Funny and charming, the film also packs a slight emotional punch that is somewhat similar to The Last Picture Show. Based on a stage play, the story of Billy Liar has since been revamped as a musical yet it's this 1963 version that works best.

Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie (Liz) leapfrogged to stardom with their performances but every actor is beautifully cast: Mona Washbourne, Wilfred Pickles, and Ethel Griffies are the character types who give Billy's family heartbreaking nuances while Helen Fraser and Gwendolyn Watts bring a refreshingly sympathetic humanity to his polar opposite fiancees.

Liz's entrance, Billy's fantasies, a dance hall sequence, a quiet hospital exchange between Billy and his mother, and the final choice are classic scenes that have been constructed with genius by John Schlesinger (Darling, Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday). The Criterion Collection's DVD treatment of Billy Liar is a standout and shouldn't be missed. It's a great film.


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