Kirsty Wark issues a ticket to the movies, and to a discussion with key cast and crew from the one of the most significant British films of the twentieth century, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. In a post-film discussion she leads an exploration of the trends in British film-making at the time, looking at the relationship between cinema and society, as well as highlighting the art and craft behind each film-maker's vision.
For some of Kirsty’s guests, this is a very personal response, because the invited audience includes the writer and actors from the movie itself. For The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, guests are Alan Sillitoe (writer), Walter Lassally (cinematographer), Julia Foster (actress), Tony Gibbs (editor) and Desmond Davies (camera operator).
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a bleak and powerful film about a rebellious social misfit who is picked to be part of his reform school's track team. The runner, played by Tom Courtenay, is a determined, defiant young man who confronts society and its institutions head on. Using ground-breaking camera techniques the film is a powerful portrayal of young people in Britain at the beginning of the sixties.
Walter Lassally (Cinematographer)
A high profile feature and documentary cinematographer, he worked closely with Tony Richardson on such features as A Taste of Honey (1961) and Tom Jones (1963). After his period with Woodfall in the early 1960s, Lassally won an Oscar for his black and white photography on Michael Cacoyannis’s Zorba the Greek (1964). He became closely connected with the Merchant Ivory company in the 1970s, working on Savages (1971) and Heat and Dust (1982). His autobiography, An Itinerant Cameraman, was published in 1987.
Julia Foster (Actress: Gladys)
After breaking into feature films with Term of Trial (1962, Peter Glenville), she went on to play in The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963, Ken Hughes), Alfie (1966, Lewis Gilbert) and Half a Sixpence (1967, George Sidney), where she starred opposite Tommy Steele. She has a string of credits for film, theatre and television.
Tony Gibbs (Editor)
In 2001 he received a Golden Eddie Lifetime Achievement Award and his credits include The Knack (1965, Dick Lester), Performance (1969, Nicholas Roeg/Donald Cammell), Rollerball (1975, Norman Jewison) and David Lynch’s Dune (1985).
Desmond Davis (Camera Operator)
He was the camera operator on Tony Richardson’s A Taste of Honey and Tom Jones, as well as for this film. The first feature he directed was The Girl with Green Eyes (1964), based on Edna O’Brien’s successful novel, starring Peter Finch and Rita Tushingham and also made for Woodfall. Subsequently he directed I Was Happy Here (1965) and Smashing Time (1967), with Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave, as well as A Nice Girl Like Me (1969). He has worked in TV since the late 1980s.
Alan Sillitoe (Writer)
Author of the Hawthornden prize-winning story on which the film was based and scriptwriter of the Woodfall film.