Look Back in Anger (1959)

Look Back in Anger (1959)

“What do you really want, Jimmy?”

A trumpet-playing candy stand owner (Richard Burton) living with his friend (Gary Raymond) quibbles with his newly pregnant wife (Mary Ure) when her friend (Claire Bloom) comes to stay, causing additional tensions in their cramped household.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Claire Bloom Films
  • Cross-Class Romance
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Donald Pleasence Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Marital Problems
  • Play Adaptations
  • Richard Burton Films
  • Tony Richardson Films

Tony Richardson’s big-screen feature directorial debut was this adaptation of John Osborne’s 1956 play about a troubled marriage between a working-class vendor and his upper-class wife, notable for launching the term “angry young men”. The problem is, we’re not given a reason to understand or care about Burton’s “angry young man”, Jimmy:

… who seems to think the world is fascinated by his brooding snarl and wailing trumpet. Instead, we simply see him acting in an abusive way towards his wife (is she meant to be blamed for her entire class?):

… and towards her friend (Bloom), who promptly falls in love with him herself once Ure has left (?!).

And what, exactly, is the deal with Raymond, who simply lurks around the edges of the storyline without much to do except serve as a sympathetic listening ear or comedic ally for Burton?

A subplot about an Indian vendor (S.P. Kapoor) enduring racist slander and bullying is far more interesting than anything else going on:

… but barely given any screentime, other than to showcase Donald Pleasence in an early supporting role:

Ultimately, I have very little patience for women who put up with childish, abusive, snivelling men — and since we’re forced to watch not one but two such women here, I don’t find much to appreciate about this tale.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Oswald Morris’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though I suppose it’s worth a look for its historical significance.


2 thoughts on “Look Back in Anger (1959)

  1. Skip it – mainly for reasons already stated. There’s really no reason to recommend it.

  2. Except the obvious one which is that it’s an historically significant drama in the British new wave and as one of Richardson’s most important and influential films. I’ve not seen this but I’m very aware of it’s significance and therefore ought to be seen by FFs.

    Now, off to look onto it’s availability!

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