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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
Rebellious youth has always been a good subject for movie makers and Look Back in Anger for the United Kingdom became what The Wild One and The Blackboard Jungle were on this side of the Atlantic.
Though like Marlon Brando, Richard Burton should have been way too old to portray a rebellious youth, he certainly overcomes it with a bravura performance. Burton saw the play on the London stage and went to author John Osbourne and told him he wanted to do the screen version.
For the screen version the producers had the good sense to hire Osbourne to write all the additional scenes needed for a film. The play as presented on stage takes place entirely within the apartment of married couple Richard Burton and Mary Ure. He's a lower class youth who's married well beyond his station. Class and station are quite a bit more rigid in Europe than they are here. He's got a dead end job with a peddler's license in an open air market.
In generations gone by the character of Jimmy Porter would have been off for adventure in some faraway place with a strange sounding name that the United Kingdom had as a part of its empire&commonwealth. But the empire is no more and British society as a whole was adjusting to it in the post World War II years. So all Mr. Burton can do is play his raging trumpet and take out his frustrations on all around him.
Mary Ure repeated her role from both the Drury Lane and Broadway productions and she and Burton are joined by a good ensemble with Claire Bloom, Edith Evans, Gary Raymond in the main feature parts. Also look for Donald Pleasance in an early role as an officious inspector at the market, the kind of bureaucrat you love to hate.
Although the UK is still around minus the empire, Look Back In Anger is a fascinating look back to post World War II Great Britain.
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