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This Sporting Life (1963)

Not Rated | | Drama, Sport | 22 May 1963 (France)
2:23 | Trailer

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Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live.



(based on the novel by), (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Frank Machin
... Mrs. Margaret Hammond
... Gerald Weaver
... 'Dad' Johnson
... Maurice Braithwaite
... Mrs. Anne Weaver
Anne Cunningham ... Judith
... Len Miller
... Charles Slomer
Harry Markham ... Wade
... Jeff
... Phillips, Sports writer
Katherine Parr ... Mrs. Farrer
Bernadette Benson ... Lynda Hammond
Andrew Nolan ... Ian Hammond


In Northern England in the early 1960s, Frank Machin is mean, tough and ambitious enough to become an immediate star in the rugby league team run by local employer Weaver. Machin lodges with Mrs Hammond, whose husband was killed in an accident at Weaver's, but his impulsive and angry nature stop him from being able to reach her as he would like. He becomes increasingly frustrated with his situation, and this is not helped by the more straightforward enticements of Mrs Weaver. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

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Drama | Sport


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 May 1963 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Lockender Lorbeer  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Albert Finney was the first choice to play Frank Machin, but he turned it down. See more »


In reality it would have taken years of training for Frank Machin to become a professional rugby player. See more »


Frank Machin: We don't have stars in this game, Mrs Weaver, that's soccer.
Mrs. Anne Weaver: What *do* you have?
Frank Machin: People like me.
See more »


Here In My Heart
Written by Pat Genaro, Lou Levinson and Bill Borrelli
Performed by Richard Harris
See more »

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User Reviews

A touch overlong but engaging in its naturalism and its character development
10 September 2007 | by See all my reviews

Frank Machin is an amateur rugby league player in Yorkshire. Ambitious within the sport, Frank pushes himself in front of the local scouts and soon is signed to one of the professional clubs and able to hold out for £1000 down to join. As he rises within his own world, Frank has more resources and more opportunity but a strained affair with his landlady Margaret and his inability to shake off his basic roots see him frustrated and pained with his journey.

Like many others have said in relation to this film, British cinema did have something at one point. The "Free Cinema" movement of the 1950's gave a home to a slightly more realistic form of cinema and, although I do not like all within that "movement" that I have seen, I do think that Anderson's work with that paved the way for this. At times the film is too keen to revel in the depiction of working class England but this isn't too much and perhaps, if you think of the context of the period (where such views were not the norm) then you can perhaps understand why. However the power of the film is less in its depiction of the working class work (although this is indeed of value) but more in the convincing exploration of the character of Frank.

Here is a man who has aspirations but seems unable to reconcile these goals to be "better" with the fact that he is from the working classes and doesn't fit with those above him. Likewise he needs affection, love and intimacy but his outward emotions are much cruder and he is quick to lose his temper and resort to violence as the simplest reaction. It is a well written script and it doesn't push the characters or emotions past where they would naturally go for the sake of the film; you can see this in the conclusion which is meaningful and ultimately quite downbeat. Anderson's direction is suitably gritty and natural for the material, but it was Harris that impressed me most.

His performance can be mistaken for being a bit showy and loud and some viewers have made that call. However for me this was his character's boorishness, a quality that he sinks into with ease. However where Harris really does his best work is in the moments just before this happens, or immediately afterwards where, without words, we can often see this struggle, this conflict within himself. It is hard for me to describe here in words so think how difficult it must be to do as an actor but Harris pulls it off. He is well supported by Roberts and they share some excellent scenes. Smaller roles are also well filled with natural turns from the likes of Hartnell, Lowe, Blakely and others; but the film is Harris'.

Not perfect and perhaps a little longer than it can sustain, this is an impressive film. The working class depiction does seem a bit heavy at times through modern eyes but in the emotion and development of the characters the film is hard to really question. Engaging, well written and well delivered – like others have said, where are the British classics like this now? Four Weddings? Do me a favour...

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