This Sporting Life


This Sporting Life

Critics Consensus

Appropriately hard-hitting on narrative as well as physical levels, The Sporting Life remains a British "kitchen sink" classic that's beautiful to look at and leaves a lingering mark.



Total Count: 20


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,892
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Movie Info

Adapted by David Storey from his own novel, this drama stars Richard Harris as 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, Harris begins amassing a fortune.


Critic Reviews for This Sporting Life

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (1)

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

    Jun 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • I can't think of a sport movie that is better photographed. The black and white cinematography is gorgeously stark, the perfect medium for this bleakly unforgiving tale.

    Jun 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • This Sporting Life shrewdly anticipates modern Britain: a dour, yet thrilling and exhilarating film.

    Jun 5, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 22, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

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

    Feb 9, 2006

    Tom Milne

    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.

    Jun 27, 2002 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for This Sporting Life

  • May 06, 2014
    The brutality of Harris brings to mind Brando in Streetcar. He is all brute force and aggression who uses rugby sometimes unsuccessfully as the conduit through which negative emotions go, It is when another outlet is needed that the film becomes stark.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2011
    "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 M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 14, 2010
    One of the original angry young man films is extremely well acted by the leads but is a rather dispiriting experience to sit through.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Feb 04, 2009
    Richard Harris gives a very 'Brando-esque' performance in this UK classic. Simply fantastic from start to finish.
    Randy T Super Reviewer

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