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United Kingdom 1963
Directed by
John Schlesinger
98 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Billy Liar

Scripts which have been adapted from plays are usually pretty reliable fare as the dross has been winnowed well before the camera rolls. In this case the play and the script, both by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, were based on the former’s novel about a young man who escapes the drabness of his routine existence as an undertaker’s assistant in the industrial North of England in a fantasy life with himself as hero. Billy's propensity for fabrication gets him into all manner of trouble, notably with the women who he strings along, but the film is less of a Walter Mitty-ish comedy than a portrait of a shiftless young man who desires much but is unwilling to do the hard yards to realize his ambitions.  

With a well-written script, a fine cast including Tom Courtenay and. newcomer Julie Christie in the leads and  John Schlesinger, who had directed another key film of the period, A Kind Of Loving, the previous year , at the helm, this is quality 1960s English “kitchen sink” cinema.





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