Monday, November 11, 2013
Tuesday's Forgotten Movies
Richard Harris plays Frank Machin, a man who speaks with his fists all too often in this 1963 film by director, Lindsay Anderson. It takes place in northern England in all its grimy glory where Harris is recruited for a rugby team, a sport he seems perfectly suited to.
Rachel Roberts is the widow with two kids he becomes strangely infatuated with despite almost no encouragement from her. If you saw this film today, you would wonder if his interest was more in her kids, but not in 1963.
Harris is a bit too reminiscent of Brando in STREETCAR and Burton in LOOK BACK IN ANGER but he dominates the screen in his own right. Albert Finney was meant to play the part as he had starred with Roberts in SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING a few years earlier. But scheduling problems brought Harris on board.
Oddly, we see very little rugby. Perhaps it is not the most cinematic sport. Rachel Roberts does not garner much sympathy either. Did she ever? I wonder if another actress might have played her role very differently.
Where this film succeeded best for us was showing us northern England: the look of it, what people did for fun, how frugally most people lived there. It was beautifully put together.
We saw this film at the MOMA in New York. What a great program of films they have!
Has rugby ever figured into a crime fiction novel?