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Features
The 50 Greatest Sports Movies
We rank the very best sports films

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27

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1962)

DIRECTOR Tony Richardson
STARS Tom Courtenay, Michael Redgrave, James Bolam

A key film in the '60s Free Cinema movement, Tony Richardson's The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner uses athletics as an act of rebellion. Tom Courtney excels as Colin Smith (is this the most working class name in film history?), the young ASBO who ends up in reform school after turning over a bakery. His skill as a cross-country runner ingratiates him to the borstal's governor (Redgrave) who believes in sport as rehabilitation and grants Smith special privileges. When Smith is allowed to run outside of the borstal grounds, Richardson uses freewheeling tracking shots and a jazzy score to hammer home the exhilaration of being free. The final race against the rival posh school doesn't go the way you think it will, and the result is one of the most powerful moments in British cinema.
Read Empire's review

QUICK POLL
Should The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner be higher or lower on the list?
Higher
Lower

The Stats
THE SPORT
Distance Running
THE PLAYER
Colin Smith (Courtenay)
DOCUMENTARY?
No.
DEFINING MOMENT
In the final moments of the big race, Colin's mind jump-cuts through images from his life; his mother's neglect, his father's death, his failed relationship, his life in borstal. It has a devastating effect on the outcome of the race and more importantly, Colin's future.
KEY TACTICS
"Running has always been a big thing in our family," says Colin Smith. "Especially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is you've got to run." There you go Olympians - the secret to speed is commit a crime.
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Have your say Agree with the list? Which sports movie would you add to the list? Register or login now to have your say.


Your Comments

1 Underdog film
Dodgeball certainly remains one of the classic underdog films, not just for its inspirational value, but its usual comedy, too. And perhaps some of the others could make this list too: http://www.ranker.com/list/best-movies-about-underdogs/ ranker-film Read More

Posted on Wednesday June 18, 2014, 18:51 by Imperion

2 See Also
Karate Kid, The Waterboy, The foot fist way, Hot rod, Caddy Shack, The mighty ducks, coach carter, blades of glory, mean machine, leatherheads, the ringer, nacho libre, kicking and screaming, baseketball, remember the titans, brians song, don king: only in america, cinderella man, million dollar baby, somebody up there likes me, the boxer, knuckle, bend it like beckham, fever pitch, zidane Read More

Posted on Saturday September 15, 2012, 18:42 by bnicholson50

3 RE: What the Hell!?
l largely an excuse for Chaplin to show off his legendary slapstick skills and rubbery physical abilities while poking fun at sports clichés and underdog stories, but it's still more entertaining than most of the films it skewers. ow exactly does Chaplin, in 1915, skewer films that are very very far from being made and poking fun at sports clichés that do not yet exist? Read More

Posted on Wednesday July 25, 2012, 00:42 by Evil_Bob

4 RE: Rocky - third place
BASEketball should totally be in here. Okay it's not a real sport, but it is a sport movie. And it's funny as shit wise a pretty damn solid list. (Rocky 2-4 should be included as well, but maybe that's being a bit greedy...) Read More

Posted on Tuesday July 24, 2012, 13:55 by Whistler

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