This Sporting Life (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes

This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

This Sporting Life Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Adapted by David Storey from his own novel, This Sporting Life stars Richard Harris as Frank, an athletic coal miner who aspires to the greener pastures of professional rugby. Soon establishing himself as one of the most brutal and arrogant players in the business, Frank begins to amass a fortune. He also falls in love with his landlady, Mrs. Hammond (Rachel Roberts), who initially resists his advances. When she finally gives in, their relationship hinges on sex alone, as Frank practically begs Mrs. Hammond to give of herself emotionally and she remains incapable. At the wedding ceremony for one of Frank's teammates, Mrs. Hammond unexpectedly lashes out at her swaggering lover. They split up, but Frank, who until now has equated happiness with wealth, is unable to get over the permanent loss. In the end, with nothing else left, all of Frank's self-worth becomes contingent on his rugby performances, though Frank and the other players are exploited to such a degree that this also proves disastrous. Widely regarded as one of the finest British feature films ever produced, the gritty and bleak This Sporting Life not only marked former documentary filmmaker Lindsay Anderson's first feature, but became one of the harbingers of the "Angry Young Man" school of filmmaking. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: David Storey
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 22, 2008


Richard Harris
as Frank Machin
Rachel Roberts
as Mrs. Hammond
Alan Badel
as Weaver
Colin Blakely
as Maurice Braithwaite
Vanda Godsell
as Mrs. Weaver
Jack Watson
as Len Miller
Katherine Parr
as Mrs. Farrer
Anthony Woodruff
as Head Waiter
John Gill
as Cameron
Tom Clegg
as Gower
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for This Sporting Life

Critic Reviews for This Sporting Life

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (5)

The film is raw and confident, but it's a little shallow, too.

Full Review… | June 5, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Lindsay Anderson, making his debut as a feature director, brings the keen, observant eye of a documentary man to many vivid episodes without sacrificing the story line.

Full Review… | January 22, 2008
Top Critic

A reminder that something really was stirring in those days of the British New Wave before it frittered itself away.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's impossible not to appreciate the remarkable performances (both Harris and Roberts were nominated for Oscars) or the realistic rugby scenes that earned Harris a broken leg.

Full Review… | June 27, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Probably the best crafted of the British 'kitchen sink' movies.

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

Anderson's visual sense is remarkably strong for a film that relies for much of its length on a highly complex and intriguing flashback narrative.

Full Review… | June 15, 2015
Monthly Film Bulletin

Audience Reviews for This Sporting Life


Richard Harris gives a very 'Brando-esque' performance in this UK classic. Simply fantastic from start to finish.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

"This Sporting Life" is one of the most famous of the British "kitchen sink" dramas of the 1950s and 1960s ("kitchen sink" films were very gritty, social realist films which were very popular in Britain at one time).

Frank Machin (Richard Harris) is a brutal, young miner in a city in northern England. Hoping for fame and fortune, he becomes a successful Rugby League football player. He uses his fame and fortune, along with physical violence, to try to force his widowed landlady (Rachel Roberts) to fall for him.

Photographed in bleak black-and-white, the film's scenes of emotional and physical domestic violence are still shocking today. Also notable are the violent, stylishly-shot rugby matches.

The cast are brilliant without exception, especially Richard Harris who manages to invest even his totally unsympathetic character with some degree of humanity.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


The British Raging Bull.

Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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