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Look Back in Anger
Look Back in Anger
Actors: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure, Edith Evans, Gary Raymond
Director: Tony Richardson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2001     1hr 38min

OscarĀ(r) nominee* Richard Burton delivers a passionate performance, and Mary Ure, ClaireBloom, Gary Raymond and Edith Evans give exciting stand-out portrayals (Los Angeles Times)in this powerful and engrossing motion...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure, Edith Evans, Gary Raymond
Director: Tony Richardson
Creators: Oswald Morris, Richard Best, Gordon Scott, Harry Saltzman, John Osborne, Nigel Kneale
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Classics
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/11/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1959
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1959
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

From a real Osborne fan
Gary W. McClintock | Clive, IA USA | 04/28/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)

"First, one of the other reviews for this film seems to be stating that Burton played Jimmy Porter on stage. This is not true. Osborne's autobiography describes Burton as needing a serious career boost after his previous toga films had gotten him nowhere (though, still, Osborne then says it was Burton's name that got the film financed). Burton took on the film for very little money (and, yes, he is too old for the part.) Mary Ure is the only actor from the stage production. (And at this late date it seems a great loss Alan Bates didn't reprise Cliff in the film.) My thanks to the reviewer who mentioned Pauline Kael's review. It certainly makes me reconsider how much power the film had in its time. But still everyone seems to be missing the point of the story. It isn't a conventional triangle. The play greatly upset the establishment in its day because it is an violent assault on class and cultural issues of the time. Jimmy is not a working-class hero. Kenneth Tynan described him as part of the "non-U intelligensia" but this is wrong. The film mentions, though perhaps doesn't make clear, that Jimmy has been to college, a very mediocre college. His working a sweets barrel is part of his rejection of the social order. But it is his marriage that is the central class conflict, as his wife, Alison, is from a very good family, father an old soldier returned from India, brother at Sandhurst, surely some day an MP. Her family instantly rejected Jimmy, and Jimmy resents Alison's inability to decisively choose sides, hates her for even writing letters to her mother. Alison believes Jimmy decided to marry her only after her parents rejected him. In the scheme of the play it is Cliff who is working class, Alison who is ruling class, and Jimmy in-between raging at the world. His rage, his need for a dust-up, is his response to a collapsing England, an England determined to be static, dead. The movie begins in a jazz club, which was wrongheaded, since the central image of a stiffling Sunday morning reading the papers (with no church attendance) is so important to the play. Jimmy wants to eat more and shout more and love more than the world around him affords him. A previous reviewer states Osborne gives us some pop psychology to explain Jimmy ? Jimmy, when a boy, watches his father die ? but one thing Osborne should never be accused of is being faddish. The point is that Jimmy's father died upon returning from fighting in Spain, dying for a cause, while his mother didn't care. It explains Jimmy's sense that there is no cause to fight for. Also it has left Jimmy a deep belief in honoring the dead, and this, in turn, causes him to feel Alison betrays him when she fails to appear at the funeral for Ma Tanner, his surrogate mother, the woman who bought him the sweets stall. (Spoiler warning). This take on death is what makes the ending meaningful when Alison miscarriages. It is why Jimmy cannot just be a bastard who dismisses his wife.Or maybe it's all just Osborne's attack on his first wife in a very autobiographical play (his attacks on second wife Mary Ure in his autobiography can be equally savage). On whole I find the film a disappointment. Burton's unconvincing performance cannot be saved by good work by Mary Ure and Claire Bloom. Worse, the film eliminates many of the most biting and relevant rages from Jimmy in the play, perhaps the best parts of the play. Nigel Kneale, who wrote some great science fiction, should never have been allowed to rewrite Osborne. The whole teddy bear/toy squirrel metaphor from the play makes no sense whatsoever in the film. I do like the scenes with Edith Evans, which Osborne at least in part wrote especially for the film, the character not ever actually appearing on stage in the play (Evans, priding herself on being Cockney, bought her own wardrobe for the role in second-hand shops). In some ways I prefer the filmed version of the play done years later by Lindsay Anderson with Malcom McDowell (though he too was too old for Jimmy). Oh, and reviewers please note, you won't find the phrase "angry young man" in the play. It was never a phrase Osborne liked. It was invented by the promotions man at the Royal Court Theater."
Raging Burton
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 12/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"On the surface "Look Back in Anger" is a very bleak picture which I wouldn't think I would admire. I was not a big fan of "The Entertainer", another adaptation of a downbeat play by John Osborne. Osborne and director Tony Richardson should be thankful for the calibre of the performances of the principle actors here that have made this a worthwhile enterprise. For starters, Richard Burton as Jimmy Porter, angry open-market candy salesmen, is a revelation. It's not just in the sililoquies that he rails against his station in life that are akin to Shakespeare. Burton's eyes show all the rage and self-hatred. Mary Ure as Porter's long-suffering wife, Allison, quietly demonstrates the pain of loving someone who is incapable of love. Claire Bloom is excellent as Allison's no-nonsense friend Helena who despite her better judgement falls prey to the indescribable spell that Jimmy casts on women who should know better. Gary Raymond as Cliff, Jimmy's best friend, does commendable work here as well. Also noteworthy is Donald Pleasance as Hurst, the overbearing market inspector. This film could very well be a relic of the angry young man period of British film but holds up because of the quality of the acting."
A Great (sorry, Mr. Burton) Classic
Anna | Germany | 08/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Richard Burton - who started a legendary career (first on stage, later on screen) with playing Jimmy Porter - would probably have hated the description "classic". But it can't be helped: This movie adaptation of a theatre hit of the London Westend IS a classic by now. And that is mainly due to his wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime performance as Jimmy.
When John Osborne tried to put into words - and he indeed succeeded! as the great theatre critic Kenneth Tynan so rightly pointed out - the deep frustration, sadness and sometimes furious rebellion of the young generation of the 50s (not so far away from the frustration and rebellion of the young generation of today, mind you!), he was incredibly lucky to find a hitherto unknown, rebelliously minded young Welsh actor to play the lead! Burton's tremendously energetic performance became a legend in no time, - and it was and is great to see that he managed to transfer most of that energy into the film version.
It is also great that the wonderfully subtle performance of Mary Ure lost nothing of its riveting intensity in the film, and how convincingly she succeeded in playing up to her partner! Miss Ure (who in my eyes until today is only being matched by Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and Kate Blanchett) was an actress of great beauty and tremendous talent. Above all, she radiated humaneness and vulnerability, but also great inner strength, in her parts.
Claire Bloom does not quite match the leading performances, but is also very good as the intervening guest who at first hates, and later is fascinated by the husband of her best friend.
It seems unlikely that this superb film version of a great play - after all, it does not seem accidental that Osborne's "angry young man" (Jimmy Porter) has long since become a figure of speech - will impress 'cool' young people as Peter Shelley from Australia who talks about "dull Ure" and finds it appropriate to refer to a wonderful supporting performance of the great Dame Edith Evans as "mention is made of Edith Evans in a nice turn". However, there is hope that a timelessly brilliant production as this will always and everywhere find its admirers - be they 19 or 90!"
He who will be angry for anything will be angry for nothing
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 03/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

John Osborne's play, upon which this movie is based, ushered in a whole slew of "angry young men" plays - all about young Bristishers who spit vitriol at post-War England and all it stood for. Richard Burton has the role of the angry Jimmy Porter, a university-educated man who would rather sell candy in an open market, play jazz trumpet at night, and, most of all, abuse his wife. His performance is stunning (it got him noticed here in the States), but he is just so full of anger at seemingly everything that it's hard to focus sympathy on him. With Britain losing its powerful place in the world after all the sacrifices made during two world wars, such frustrated indignation might appear justifiable, but so much of it seems like raging against the wind: it doesn't seem connected to the humanness of the emotion - it's too detached. The movie, like the play, has some great dialogue, however, and it's very well photographed."