British New Wave
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.
Introducing British New Wave
The following interview with critic Alicia Malone was recorded in 2022.
British New Wave Teaser
Look Back in Anger
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
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. ...
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
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...
This Sporting Life
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...
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...
Séance on a Wet Afternoon
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
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...