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critics 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." Read critic reviews

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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Photos

Movie Info

Fleet-footed Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay) is a rebellious teenager in the poverty-stricken town of Nottingham, in northern England, who enjoys running as an escape from his harsh reality. Caught stealing cash from a bakery, Colin is sent to a reform school where the manipulative governor (Michael Redgrave) promotes sports as rehabilitation by enlisting Colin in a foot race against a prestigious rival school. What the governor doesn't realize is that Colin is not so easily disciplined.

Cast & Crew

Tom Courtenay
Colin Smith
Michael Redgrave
Reformatory Governor
Avis Bunnage
Mrs. Smith
Alec McCowen
Brown, House Master
Alan Sillitoe
Writer (Story)
John Addison
Original Music
Walter Lassally
Cinematographer
Antony Gibbs
Film Editor
Ralph W. Brinton
Production Designer
Sophie Harris
Costume Designer
Dave Tracey
Stunts
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Critic Reviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (7)

  • 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.

    August 4, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Most of the period hallmarks of the British New Wave are paraded here.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's provocative and enjoyable, but not a classic.

    March 30, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The counter-Hollywood bloody-mindedness packs a knockout punch.

    November 19, 2002 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film, with its grim Nottingham setting and working class milieu, must have seemed fresh in its day. Now, though, it looks and sounds like a relic from a bygone era.

    October 7, 2002 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

  • Feb 15, 2020
    Appropriately angry as it is one of the definitive films of the British New Wave. Tom Courtenay gives a hell of a performance, especially with his eyes.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2016
    The ending is divisive, but nonetheless this is a decent British film for fans of Ken Loach.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 07, 2011
    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 G Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2011
    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 M Super Reviewer

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