This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
Written by David Storey
Independent Artists;Julian Wyntle/Leslie Parklyn Productions
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Frank Machin: We don’t have stars in this game, Mrs Weaver, that’s soccer.

Mrs. Anne Weaver: What *do* you have?

Frank Machin: People like me.

It’s hard to find love when you are filled with rage.

Frank Machlin (Richard Harris) works as a miner and lodges with young widow Margaret Hammond and her two small children.  He does everything in his power to ingratiate himself but Margaret is still mourning the death of her husband and keeps him at arms length.  Machlin plays rugby on the side and finally brings himself to the attention of a professional team.  He proves to be very talented at a brutal game and soon has some money and status as a result.

But money and fame mean nothing if he cannot attain the unattainable Margaret.  Finally, he wears her down to allowing intimacy but she cannot bring herself to love him.  In the meantime, Frank is spinning out of control.

Richard Harris’s work in this film is some of the best I have ever seen by an actor.  The mixture of tenderness, confusion, anxiety, and anger he portrays is perfection.  Roberts is every bit his equal.  It’s not a particularly easy movie to watch but is gripping throughout.  Highly recommended.

Richard Harris was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and Rachel Roberts was nominated for Best Actress.


2 thoughts on “This Sporting Life (1963)

  1. This is a criminally-underknown movie. As you say, Harris’s work is as good as anything he did and as good or better than anything else in the decade, and Rachel Roberts is with him step for step.

    Not an easy film, but a great one.

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