The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
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I found it fucking great.
I found it on Turner Classic Movies late on a Tuesday night.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a beautiful anti-authoritarian film that's a complete opposite to Chariots of Fire, which I'd just recently bailed out of after 20-30 minutes. Instead of posh college boys with high ideals running to sweeping music in beautified cinematography, this 1962 film takes us to a reform school, its headmaster's ambition, to have one of his boys win in a cross-country race against a local private school, and Tom Courtenay's rebellious new pupil/inmate Colin Smith might be the key. For all his rebellious talk though, he might fall under the spell of the privilege heaped upon him because of his athletic ability (a form of indoctrination), but running ahead of the pack - and this is where the poetic title comes in - gives one a lot of time to think, reflect and analyze. On practice runs, flashbacks show us Smith's working class family life, and how he got sent to reform school, sequences that evoked Truffaut's 400 Blows, and ultimately, Smith stands indomitable, not buying what you're sellin' guv'nor... A massive F U to the establishment, great stuff.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #37 in IMDb's Sport Top 50
This movie ranks #38 in Time Out's The 100 Best British Films
This movie ranks #52 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #61 in BFI's Top 100 British Films
This movie ranks #299 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #490 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #996 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films