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A Taste Of Honey DVD


Rita Tushingham made her indelible screen debut as Jo a young girl who falls pregnant after leaving home and her floozie of a mother - a revelatory performance by Dora Bryan. Jo befriends Geoff (Murray Melvin) a gentle kind-hearted gay man and they move in together like two children playing house for a while finding an innocent but fragile happiness.

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Classic 1960s realist drama based on the play by Shelagh Delaney. Abandoned by her sailor boyfriend and her man-hungry mother (Dora Bryan), pregnant Manchester teenager Jo (Rita Tushingham) thinks she might have to face life's difficulties all alone. Help then comes in the form of a kind-hearted gay man named Geoffrey (Murray Melvin), who moves in and takes care of her; the two find happiness together, but soon life moves on....

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  • A Taste Of Honey [1961]

    When A Taste of Honey premiered as play in 1958 its immediate success was made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was written by a first time writer who was just eighteen years old.

    Shelagh Delaney, who grew up in working-class Salford, had come away from seeing a Manchester production of Terence Rattigan's Variations of a Theme - which she found to be so much like the conservative, genteel plays which dominated theatre at the time - convinced that she could write a play which better reflected life as it was really lived.

    A Taste of Honey, the story of a teenage girl who falls pregnant after spending the night with a sailor on brief shore leave, was the result of Delaney's effort; a groundbreaking play which was at the vanguard of a burgeoning working-class culture.

    In the years which have passed between then and Shelagh Delaney's death earlier this month there has been no need to re-evaluate the qualities of a work which had been so strikingly original and, although completely of its time in many ways, remains relevant still for the timeless nature of a story of people struggling against their fate, of restless people fettered by circumstance, of dreams lost to uncompromising reality and of the ever hopeful prospect of at least finding solace in the companionship of others.

    In 1961, three years after A Taste of Honey had premiered in the theatre, Delaney adapted her play into a film script.

    Directed by Tony Richardson, the film version has Rita Tushingham in her screen debut playing the lead character of Jo who is left to fend for herself after her mother - played by Dora Bryan - moves in with the latest, in what we can presume is a long line, of lovers.

    Jo soon finds herself a job in a shoe shop and a cheap room for rent at 30-bob a week, before striking up a friendship with Geoffrey - played by Murray Melvin in the same role he had originally played in the first theatre production - who, when the reality of Jo's pregnancy looms, provides her only loyal friendship.

    Shot on location in Manchester and Salford, the film shows a glimpse of a country - not yet twenty years after the end of the Second World War - on the cusp of immense change. The backdrop is of an old industrial Britain, of tall chimney stacks and derelict buildings soon to be razed to the ground, populated by a British working-class who were not the gormless characters they had so often been portrayed to be but were, in Delaney's own words, absolutely alive and cynical.

    It is a wonderful film, worthy of being held among the many other wonderful British New Wave films of its time and ilk; the DVD, released by Optimum Classic, is however pretty basic and offers no additional material, unlike an earlier DVD release by the British Film Institute which is now unfortunately difficult to come by and often prohibitively expensive.

    Nonetheless, with or without additional material, the film alone makes this DVD a worthwhile purchase.

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