Billy Liar Review

Image for Billy Liar

A young clerk escapes his crushingly dull existence by creating an imaginary world where he is the ultimate ruler.


Reunited from the previous year’s A Kind Of Loving (1962), director John Schlesinger and screenwriters Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall bridged the gap between ‘grim oop North’ British social realism and the swagger of the Swinging Sixties with this adaptation of Waterhouse’s novel.

Skulking between temerity and timidity, callousness and innocence, Tom Courtenay dominates the picture, whether defrauding his employers or duping his trio of girlfriends. But the most memorable moment remains the sight of Julie Christie on the train to London, watching Courtenay shrugging on the platform and settling for the mediocrity he despises and probably deserves.

Tom Courtenay dominates with a performance that vacillates between callousness and innocence.