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Poor Cow (1967)

Approved | | Drama | 31 January 1968 (USA)
A young woman lives a life filled with bad choices, she has a child with an abusive thief at a young age who quickly ends up in prison. One day, her son goes missing and she briefly comes to grips with what is most important to her.


Ken Loach (as Kenneth Loach)


Nell Dunn (screenplay), Ken Loach (screenplay) (as Kenneth Loach) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Carol White ... Joy
John Bindon ... Tom
Queenie Watts Queenie Watts ... Aunt Emm
Kate Williams Kate Williams ... Beryl
Laurie Asprey Laurie Asprey
James Beckett James Beckett ... Tom's mate
Ray Barron Ray Barron ... Customer in Pub
Hilda Barry Hilda Barry ... Customer in Pub
Ken Campbell Ken Campbell ... Mr. Jacks (as Kenneth Campbell)
Ronald Clarke Ronald Clarke ... (as Ron Clarke)
Ellis Dale Ellis Dale ... Solicitor
Gladys Dawson Gladys Dawson ... Bet
Terry Duggan Terry Duggan ... 2nd Prisoner
Winnie Holman Winnie Holman ... Woman in Park
Rose Hiller Rose Hiller ... Customer in Hairdresser's


A young woman lives a life filled with bad choices. She marries and has a child with an abusive thief at a young age who quickly ends up in prison. Left alone she takes up with his mate (another thief) who seems to give her some happiness but who also ends up in the nick. She then takes up with a series of seedy types who offer nothing but momentary pleasure. Her son goes missing and she briefly comes to grips with what is most important to her. Written by Fred Cabral <ftcabral@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When two arms close around her...She knows she's home. Two arms will do. Any two arms will do. See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Director Ken Loach briefed his actors separately, often with conflicting information. For example, in the improvised scene where Joy throws stew over Dave, Terence Stamp was not expecting it, so Carol White's reaction was genuine. See more »


The apostrophe is missing from the caption "At Aunt Emms.". See more »


Joy: Yeah, don't forget to get me some nice sovereigns, gold ones.
Dave: Oh, I'll try love. You know, not always made to order.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The BBFC website states that the original version had some sex references that were cut before its release in the 1960s. http://www.bbfc.co.uk/education-resources/student-guide/bbfc-history/1960s See more »


Featured in Hollywood U.K.: Making It in London (1993) See more »


Poor Love
Music and Lyrics by Donovan
See more »

User Reviews

Loach's slice-of-life debut
10 September 2016 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

As mentioned elsewhere, I've been getting into the 'kitchen sink' dramas of Britain in the 1960s. Previously I've watched a handful of the early black and white ones, but POOR COW, the first film from long-time director Ken Loach, offered in a new wave of all-colour pictures that eventually heralded the way for the miserable likes of EASTENDERS and other soaps that came later. POOR COW is a product of its era and it shows, and that's what makes it interesting.

The film is in essence the story of a young mother and her kid and their attempts to get by in a cruel and often harsh world. Carol White achieves level of naturalness in her performance that you don't often see, which means that she's utterly convincing. The male characters are presented as brutes, philanderers, or simply bland, cold men who don't care about the impact they make on people's lives. There's plenty of talent in the supporting cast, a lot of faces who would go on to become familiar on TV and in film, which makes this a fun watch despite the gruelling subject matter.

The thing I found about POOR COW is that it kept me watching. I was always interested in finding out the outcome of the story, although any viewer will immediately realise that it's not going to be a happy ending. I was interested to note that the interlude in which White gets involved with a group of dodgy glamour photographers seemed to inspire a whole sub-genre of films directed by the likes of Norman J. Warren and Pete Walker. Apparently many of the scenes in the film were ad-libbed, which accounts for the slice-of-life realism of the piece.

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Release Date:

31 January 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Poor Cow See more »

Filming Locations:

Wales, UK See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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