The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)




Critic Consensus: Dry and full of angst, this British New Wave classic features potent social commentary and a star making performance by Tom Courtenay as a textbook example of the "angry young man."

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Videos & Photos

Movie Info

Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay) is a rebellious teen with a huge chip on his shoulder. Too lazy to work, he drifts into petty thievery. He is unsatisfied at home and he resents the promiscuity of his mother, who spends more time on her back than she does standing up for her children. Colin's criminal activities end when he winds up being sent to Borstal, an institutional gathering place for juvenile offenders. After plenty of time running from police, Colin is chosen to represent Borstal in a cross … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Alan Sillitoe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 13, 2007


as Colin Smith

as Ruxton Towers Reform...

as Mr. Smith

as Gladys

as Audrey

as Detective

as Chief Officer

as Bosworth

as Mrs. Smith

as Ronalds

as Gunthorpe

as Lord Jaspers

as Alice Smith

as Johnny Smith

as Booking Office Clerk

as Tory Politician

as Public School Boy

as Public School Boy in...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4)

The performance of Tom Courtenay and the imaginative, if sometimes overfussy, direction of Tony Richardson, plus some standout lensing by Walter Lassally makes this a worthwhile pic.

Full Review… | August 4, 2008
Top Critic

Most of the period hallmarks of the British New Wave are paraded here.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

While this show of compassion may not sit comfortably with those who distrust social agitation and too easy sympathy, it must be said that a splendid presentation is made by Mr. Richardson.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

More allegory from the depths of the British kitchen sink.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Ultimately, Richardson's pot-shots at consumerism and class have lost some urgency, but the nihilistic, punky buzz packs an immortal wallop. Classic.

Full Review… | August 4, 2008
Total Film

In attempting to straddle dramatic realism, Richardson tried hard to avoid moralizing on the hypocrisies of adults or exaggerating the experiences of youth, but in striving for the middle ground, he also strive for mediocrity.

August 4, 2008

Audience Reviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


Another exquisite film from 1962, the year that brought you Lawrence of Arabia, To Kill a Mockingbird and King Kong vs. Godzilla. Tony Richardson knows how to make a motion picture and this is unequivocally one of his best.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


While The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a beautifully bleak story about a reform school kid and for good or ill, the choices he makes. Great direction and cinematography along with a great debut performance by Tom Courtenay are definitely the highlights of this movie, but what I really liked was the flashback-told story and buildup to a truly well-done finale. Out of all the "angry young man" movies I've seen, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was the best because it actually explained WHY its protagonist was the way he was as opposed to making you endure the behavior of a raving dipshit.

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

Ahh Mother,why oh why oh why oh why, don't they make them like they used to? Forget your Guy Richie crime capers,'Loneliness of the long distance runner' is British cinema at its best. I can't explain why I love this film (erm so why I am I here?), whenever I try to explain the plot to friends they look perplexed as to why the film should be so good. Tom Courtenay is in his element in his portrayal as the 'loveable rogue'. Has 'Jerusalem' ever been more poignantly sung as it has here? Im not urging you to go out and purchase the film, but if you have a spare 90 odd minutes and it comes on television then watch it. Ta.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner on our Movie forum!