This Sporting Life 1963

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.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 21

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,895

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Movie Info

Yorkshire coal miner Frank Machin (Richard Harris) picks a fight in a club and subsequently finds himself being recruited for a rugby team. He's an unpolished player, but his aggressiveness, brutality and indifference to the rules of fair play impress the team owners. Suddenly a rising star, Frank despairs that his success on the playing field isn't equaled in his personal life. He loves a widowed, emotionally challenged landlady (Rachel Roberts) who's too damaged to return his feelings.

Cast & Crew

Richard Harris
Frank Machin
Rachel Roberts
Mrs. Margaret Hammond
Alan Badel
Gerald Weaver

Critic Reviews for This Sporting Life

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (1)

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

    June 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.

    June 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.

    June 5, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • I'm tempted to see it as one of the strongest films of that period, every frame of which pulsates with drama, class confusion and erotic force.

    June 5, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    June 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.

    January 22, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic

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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