Reviewed byTom May (email@example.com)Vote: 9/10/10
"Billy Liar!" impressed me more than many other admirable British picturesof this era, like "Room at the Top", "The Loneliness of the Long DistanceRunner" and "This Sporting Life". It managed to generate a more tangibleblend of poignancy and amusement. It's not often humour of the"laugh-out-loud" nature, more of the subtle, grim kind. The reality ofBritain at that time is I suspect, very well conveyed here, with the oldworking-class, represented by Councillor Duxbury (astutely played by thefine Finlay Currie) and Billy's family, very much at odds with what they seeas an ungrateful, decadent youth. All the performances hit the intended mark, with Leonard Rossiter typicallyRossiter, almost as a younger Rigsby, without so much noticeable seediness.Julie Christie is as good as the role allows, an odd role, very much the"dream girl" of Billy and I dare say a good few others. The film expertlyavoids sentimentalizing matters by its cunning, apposite last section. TheDanny Boon character is, one suspects, all too typical of the TV lightentertainer mould in reality. His reliance on cheap non-gags, smug guffawsand "audience banter" is well conveyed in just a few short scenes. It'sinteresting that Billy seems to aspire so much to write for him inparticular...Helen Fraser's character Barbara is wonderfully quaint; a type long gone itseems. One can understand Billy's frustrations with his respectively prudishand plain (Barbara) and ignorant (Rita) girlfriends, and his anger at hisfamily, although some sympathy is correctly reserved forthem.The direction is very good by Schlesinger, emphasizing all the right things.The fine context-setting opening montage expertly draws in the viewer, andnever at any stage henceforth is anyone's attention likely towane.The film is most of all Tom Courtenay's; he gives a truly resonantperformance, bringing to vivid life a character far removed from the normsof film making at the time. The fantasy sequences are finely done, and alladd more deep impression of this character. His digressive tendencies,self-destructive habits, economy with the truth are well balanced by a senseof yearning and imagination. One cannot help but like and relate to thecharacter, a creation that resoundingly rings true. His ambivalence to theclass system comes across concisely, in particular.A fine film indeed, with so many of the smaller touches that many filmsmiss. Witty, sad and a seminal film of the era, very much a crossroads inBritish history.Rating:- **** 1/2/*****
Reviewed byfunangVote: 9/10/10
Most novels may not necessary translate well to the stage, let alone totheBig screen. 'Billy Liar' has achieved all that.I have just recently discovered this 'hidden' gem from among the throngsofDVD shelves. The reason I 'picked it up' was due largely to thedirector'sname, John Schlesinger. Having seen his catapult to American fame'MidnightCowboy', I reckon why not check out his earlier British work. Boy was Iastonished!
First of all, the script. The adapted screenplay by the original writersKeith Waterhouse and Willis Hall is wickedly witty and performative fortheatre dramatics, yet it crosses perfectly to the realms of cinema. Thecut-aways to the lavishly staged dream sequences are so effective, so incontrast to the stark realism that we get from most of the on-locationfilming (from the DVD bonus features, the two writers actually take youon apresent day 'tour' of a couple of the 'real'locations, juxtaposed withsnippets of the film sequences at exactly the same spots).
Also commendable is the black and white cinematography by veteranBristishlensman Denys Coop. Done in Cinemascope, the depth of Hinchcliffe Avenuecanonly be fully realised in the widescreen format, so avoid there-formattedtv release at all costs!
And I must say the most amazing thing about the film is still theperformance. Schlesinger rarely fails to bring out the best from hisactors,and this seminal work is no exception. All the supporting cast, from 'MrShadrack ', Billy's family and girlfriends played very well to be the'plastic reality' that's driving Billy insane. Hence, he seekssolance,affirmation and escape in his fantasies and lies, but ultimatelyweknow which track he ends back on.
Tom Courtenay is simply 'Billy Liar'. Somehow, he bears an uncannyresemblance to Ewen Macgregor, or perhaps that's just me. It wasmentionedthat Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, who have both played the titlecharacter on stage, were considered for the the film role at the sametime.I can't help but only wonder how it would've turned out if Finney got thepart instead...
Last but not least, who can resist Julie Christie, aka Liz. She isBilly'sobject of desire cum temptation cum salvation, very much in contrast toBilly's inhabited world... simply beautiful. The intro sequence of Liz asshe walks along the streets of Bradford is another highlight of the film,undescribable with words. You gotta see it for ya self~
What else can I say about 'Billy Liar'. I guess everyone was once a'BillyLiar', or still has a Billy Liar in him or herself. Well, at least I cansayit for me self. Perhaps on a finer day, I WILL CATCH thee TRAIN to'London'.......
I give it 9/10 :-)
Reviewed byHans Veldman (firstname.lastname@example.org)Vote: 8/10/10
I was a teenager when the film was made, and immediately recognized thepictures of cities in the 60's, the cars, streets, buildings, the interiorof the houses. Even so the way people looked and talked. Beautiful. Ineverread the book but it seemed to me that Billies dreams were put on screen abit overdone but therefore also very funny. Like small boys cànexaggerate,but Billy was not a small boy anymore, and therefore really a sad guy. Hisfamily had had it with him, quarrelling all the time, his boss andcolleagues saw through him and everywhere his time was running out. Thathehad 2-3 girlfriends was a miracle. His lying promises did the trick. Timefor a change, one would say ! The climax was the end of course. All of asudden Liz got on his right side with messages of love and persuaded himonto the train to London. She was enthusiastic and dedicated to get withhimout of her dull-after-war-life and gloomy city. The message of the movieis:grab your chances now or don't. In the 60's that was a coming up andeveryday question for many of the young people (and still is !) andtherefore very actual (then and now). I liked the movie and how the actorscreated their characters. Tom Courtenay did it with very much conviction.Asplendid, for that time spirited, and very good looking Julie Christie asLiz the new-age young girl, with no ties or limitations (responsibility ?)whatsoever to withhold her from doing what she wanted to. We saw more ofthese girls in Holland soon after 1963. See the movie: you won't regret itI'm sure. Hans Veldman.
A young British clerk in a gloomy North Country undertaker's office, Billy is bombarded daily by the propaganda of the media that all things are for the asking. This transparently false doctrine, coupled with the humdrum job and his wild imagination, leads him on frequent flights to "Ambrosia," a mythical kingdom where he is crowned king, general, lover or any idealized hero the real situation of the moment makes him desire. His vacillating commitment and post-adolescent immaturity have created situations which make Ambrosia all the more attractive. He's succeeded in becoming engaged to two different girls, simultaneously, while in love with a third, Liz. He's in hot water with his employer, having spent a rather large sum of postage money on his personal frivolities. And last, but not least, his dream of becoming a highly-paid, famous scriptwriter in London seems doomed to failure. The only person in his life capable of bringing him down to earth is Liz, and she's having a difficult ...