Billy Liar


Billy Liar

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Total Count: 13


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,691
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Movie Info

Billy (Tom Courtenay) is stuck in his dead-end job as a clerk for a local funeral director. Shadrack (Leonard Rossiter) is his hard driving, humorless employer who scolds young Billy for his constant daydreaming. Billy has two women on the string who believe he will marry them. He takes comfort in an understanding girl named Liz (Julie Christie). Billy has the bad habit of being a pathological liar and reverting to an imaginary world where he dreams he is the dictator of a fictional country. He finds no comfort from his mother, an airhead, or his father, a swaggering bully. The screenplay was written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall from their successful play of the same name.


Tom Courtenay
as William Terrence 'Billy' Fisher
Wilfred Pickles
as Geoffrey Fisher
Mona Washbourne
as Alice Fisher
Rodney Bewes
as Arthur Crabtree
Helen Fraser
as Barbara
George Innes
as Eric Stamp
Godfrey Winn
as Disc Jockey
Ernest Clark
as Prison Governor
Leslie Randall
as Danny Boone
Patrick Barr
as Insp. Macdonald
Anna Wing
as Mrs. Crabtree
Elaine Stevens
as Danny's Secretary
George Ghent
as Danny's PRO
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Critic Reviews for Billy Liar

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (13)

Audience Reviews for Billy Liar

  • Feb 15, 2017
    The energy and pace grabs you, then the wonderful editing highlighting Billy's vivid imagination keep you enthralled. Great film with a great performance by Courtenay
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 26, 2012
    The Brits in the 60's did their own take on Thurber's popular Walter Mitty in this updated tale of a dreamer who is happiest in dreams. The climax, wherein our hero is offered the chance to finally live his dream, is the uncomfortable reality that known comfort might be better than unknown, and possibly uncomfortable, freedom. What makes this film interesting is how it summed up quite nicely the youthful unease felt by its generation and the forthcoming social revolution.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2011
    Billy Liar!" impressed me more than many other admirable British pictures of this era, like "Room at the Top", "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and "This Sporting Life". It managed to generate a more tangible blend of poignancy and amusement. It's not often humour of the "laugh-out-loud" nature, more of the subtle, grim kind. The reality of Britain at that time is I suspect, very well conveyed here, with the old working-class, represented by Councillor Duxbury (astutely played by the fine Finlay Currie) and Billy's family, very much at odds with what they see as an ungrateful, decadent youth. All the performances hit the intended mark, with Leonard Rossiter typically Rossiter, 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 expertly avoids sentimentalizing matters by its cunning, apposite last section. The Danny Boon character is, one suspects, all too typical of the TV light entertainer mould in reality. His reliance on cheap non-gags, smug guffaws and "audience banter" is well conveyed in just a few short scenes. It's interesting that Billy seems to aspire so much to write for him in particular... Helen Fraser's character Barbara is wonderfully quaint; a type long gone it seems. One can understand Billy's frustrations with his respectively prudish and plain (Barbara) and ignorant (Rita) girlfriends, and his anger at his family, although some sympathy is correctly reserved for them. The direction is very good by Schlesinger, emphasizing all the right things. The fine context-setting opening montage expertly draws in the viewer, and never at any stage henceforth is anyone's attention likely to wane. The film is most of all Tom Courtenay's; he gives a truly resonant performance, bringing to vivid life a character far removed from the norms of film making at the time. The fantasy sequences are finely done, and all add more deep impression of this character. His digressive tendencies, self-destructive habits, economy with the truth are well balanced by a sense of yearning and imagination. One cannot help but like and relate to the character, a creation that resoundingly rings true. His ambivalence to the class system comes across concisely, in particular. A fine film indeed, with so many of the smaller touches that many films miss. Witty, sad and a seminal film of the era, very much a crossroads in British history.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2010
    Billy Fisher's choice at the end left me thinking two things. first, that in order to find happiness one not necessarily has to leave all behind, because after all, that is just a state of mind and a excuse of society to break our individuality in pieces. And second, that Billy, being the irresponsible daydreamer that he is, is above all a coward and a cheeky conformist who wouldn't deprive himself from the pleasure and the importance he has as a refugee of his inner world, without caring much for anything else than fantasizing to escape mediocrity and boredom. So as my writing may show, I found this picture utterly personal, wildly comic but also lugubrious, sad, like a dead end... or a hard smash on the floor after a light and pleasant flight of the senses.
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer

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