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BILLY LIAR, 1963
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  MOVIE POSTERBILLY LIAR, 1963
Movie Reviews

Director: John Schlesinger

Stars: Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie and Helen Fraser

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

A young man dreams of a better life where he is a famous comedy writer and leader of a fictitious country called Ambrosia.

REVIEW:

For once, I didn't see this film whilst at University. In fact, I saw this at my local cinema because the BFI were celebrating the greatest British films ever made. Not only did I get to see Lawrence Olivier in Henry V (1945) but also The Dam Busters (1955) and this marvellous film which I didn't even know existed until I saw it on the screen in front of me.

Billy (Courtenay) is a lowly paid clerk. Living at home and with not much going in his life, Billy makes up fantasies which he loses himself in. A heroic leader of the country of Ambrosia, Billy also dates several women in order to make his life more interesting. After the free spirited Liz (Christie) comes back to his hometown, Billy is inspired to move to London and seek his fortune. But will he do it?

Based on Keith Waterhouse's novel of the same name, Billy Liar is one of many ‘kitchen sink' dramas which were released in the UK during the 1950's and 1960's. Prior to this genre of film, working class people were mocked and only provided comic relief. Take a look at Brief Encounter – the lives of Beryl and the other workers in the railway tea shop are never explored and their only purpose is to make people laugh. However, with the release of such films as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning as well as Billy Liar, the concerns of the working man were brought to national attention. In 1960, the first episode of the soap Coronation Street was broadcasted which follows the lives of Manchester's working class and is still being televised.

Tom Courtenay is marvellous as Billy. Frustrated with his life, he yearns for a better job and more money as well as the perfect girl. Billy has the same concerns as any other young man – having fun, getting a good job and having plenty of sex. Billy does get engaged to Barbara (Fraser) who is a frigid character, as well as another local girl. Liz is Billy's ideal woman who wouldn't look out of place if she appeared in Carnaby Street. Christie is, as usual, brilliant in this role and it isn't surprising that it brought her to the attention of Hollywood film producers.

Never taking itself too seriously, Billy Liar remains one of the greatest British films of all time and is certainly worth checking out.

ACTORJohn Schlesinger
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORTom Courtenay
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ACTORJulie Christie
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ACTORLeonard Rossiter
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ACTORWilfred Pickles
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ACTORMona Washbourne
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ACTOREthel Griffies
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ACTORFinlay Currie
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BILLY LIAR, 1963