British New Wave

British New Wave

15 Episodes

Of the myriad cinematic revolutions that swept the globe in the 1950s and ’60s, the British New Wave stood out for the raw immediacy and intense realism with which it rendered working-class lives and experiences. Emerging alongside the “angry young men” of England’s literary scene, filmmakers like Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, and Lindsay Anderson broke new ground by giving voice to the frustrations and disillusionment felt by average Britons in tough, hard-hitting touchstones of what came to be known as “kitchen-sink realism,” including LOOK BACK IN ANGER, SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING, and THIS SPORTING LIFE. Throughout the 1960s, directors such as John Schlesinger (BILLY LIAR, DARLING) and Richard Lester (THE KNACK . . . AND HOW TO GET IT) would continue to push the boundaries of the movement, taking it into increasingly expressionistic, fanciful, and experimental territory that reflected the liberated spirit of swinging-sixties London.

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British New Wave
  • Introducing British New Wave

    Episode 1

    The following interview with critic Alicia Malone was recorded in 2022.

  • British New Wave Teaser

    Episode 2

  • Room at the Top

    Episode 3

    Directed by Jack Clayton • 1959 • United Kingdom

    An ambitious young accountant schemes to wed a wealthy factory owner's daughter, despite falling in love with a married older woman.

  • Look Back in Anger

    Episode 4

    Directed by Tony Richardson • 1959 • United Kingdom
    Starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure

    Based on the smash-hit play by John Osborne that inaugurated Britain’s “angry young men” literary movement, this touchstone of the British New Wave features a searing performance from Richard Burt...

  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

    Episode 5

    Directed by Karel Reisz • 1960 • United Kingdom
    Starring Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field, Rachel Roberts

    Adapted by Alan Sillitoe from his own influential debut novel, this quintessential kitchen-sink drama was one of the first films to give voice to the discontent of Britain’s working class. ...

  • The Entertainer

    Episode 6

    Directed by Tony Richardson • 1960 • United Kingdom
    Starring Laurence Olivier, Brenda de Banzie, Roger Livesey

    “Life is a beastly mess,” states the great Laurence Olivier in this superb drama of the seedy music-hall life. He plays Archie Rice, a third-rate vaudevillian whose song-and-dance ro...

  • A Taste of Honey

    Episode 7

    Directed by Tony Richardson • 1961 • United Kingdom
    Starring Rita Tushingham, Murray Melvin, Paul Danquah

    The revolutionary British New Wave films of the early 1960s were celebrated for their uncompromising depictions of working-class lives and relations between the sexes. Directed by Tony Richa...

  • A Kind of Loving

    Episode 8

    Directed by John Schlesinger • 1962 • United Kingdom
    Starring Alan Bates, June Ritchie, Thora Hird

    John Schlesinger’s moving debut feature traces the relationship that develops between Vic (Alan Bates, in his first starring role), a young draftsman, and Ingrid (June Ritchie), a typist who works ...

  • This Sporting Life

    Episode 9

    Directed by Lindsay Anderson • 1963 • United Kingdom
    Starring Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel

    One of the finest British films ever made, this benchmark of kitchen-sink realism follows the self-defeating professional and romantic pursuits of a miner turned rugby player eking out an exi...

  • Tom Jones

    Episode 10

    Directed by Tony Richardson • 1963 • United Kingdom

    In the early 1960s, at the height of the British New Wave, director Tony Richardson and playwright John Osborne set out for more fanciful territory than the gritty realism of the movement they’d helped establish. TOM JONES brings a theatrical...

  • Billy Liar

    Episode 11

    Directed by John Schlesinger • 1963 • United Kingdom
    Starring Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie

    Tom Courtenay gives a flawlessly nuanced performance as Billy Fisher, the underachieving undertaker’s assistant whose constant daydreams and truth-deficient stories earn him the nickname “Billy Liar.” Jul...

  • The Servant

    Episode 12

    Directed by Joseph Losey • 1963 • United Kingdom
    Starring Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig

    Director Joseph Losey and playwright Harold Pinter kicked off their celebrated trio of collaborations with this provocative deconstruction of class, power, and identity adapted from the novella by Ro...

  • Séance on a Wet Afternoon

    Episode 13

    Directed by Bryan Forbes • 1964 • United Kingdom
    Starring Kim Stanley, Richard Attenborough, Margaret Lacey

    The medium is the menace in this hair-raising suspense classic. In one of her precious few screen roles, stage legend and renowned Method actor Kim Stanley delivers an electrifying, Academ...

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Episode 14

    Directed by Desmond Davis • 1964 • United Kingdom
    Starring Rita Tushingham, Peter Finch, Lynn Redgrave

    Wonderfully tender, fresh, and full of lyricism and life, this offbeat romance follows the young Kate Brady (Rita Tushingham) as she leaves behind her sheltered existence in the Irish countrysi...

  • Darling

    Episode 15

    Directed by John Schlesinger • 1965 • United Kingdom
    Starring Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey

    Julie Christie won a best actress Oscar for her star-making performance as a restless model ascending the social ladder of swinging-sixties London as she bounces between affairs with two m...