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Sparrows Can’t Sing
Directed by Joan Littlewood • 1963 • United Kingdom
Starring James Booth, Barbara Windsor, Roy Kinnear
The only film directed by trailblazing experimental theater director Joan Littlewood is a slangy, evocative portrait of 1960s East End London in which the marital tensions between a just-back-from-sea sailor (James Booth) and his faithless wife (the vivacious Barbara Windsor in a BAFTA-nominated performance) unfold against a colorful working-class panorama. Though adapted from a play by Stephen Lewis, the film is largely the product of Littlewood’s improvisational techniques, which lend the mix of comedy and drama a jaunty, freewheeling vitality.