Billy Liar was the multimedia phenomenon of its era. Starting out as a novel by Yorkshire writer Keith Waterhouse, it rapidly became a long-running stage play, adapted by Waterhouse with playwright Willis Hall, which lead to the movie, scripted by Waterhouse and Hall for John Schlesinger to direct, then a stage musical and finally a spin-off TV series. Do you get the feeling it caught the mood of the times? The basic set-up owes a lot to James Thurber's classic short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Our hero, Billy Fisher, lives at home in a Bradford semi with... his nagging parents and works as a lowly clerk in an undertaker's parlour. But, in his imagination he lives a rich and varied fantasy life as gallant military leader, suave socialite, best-selling novelist and so forth. Trouble is, he can't always keep fantasy and reality apart, any more than he can the keep two girls he's engaged to separate. Not to mention his other problems . Schlesinger's direction brings out the desperation behind the comedy, and Tom Courtenay, at once defiant and hangdog, slips perfectly into the role created on stage by Albert Finney. But the whole cast's a joy, not least the great Leonard Rossiter as undertaker Mr Shadrach, Billy's saturnine boss. And then there's Julie Christie--the luminous spirit of the Swinging 60s--in her first starring role as the girl who offers Billy a chance of real escape. At the end, when she takes the train to London, away from the smoke and the grimness "oop" north, the whole British New Wave went with her. On the DVD: just the theatrical trailer which is a fairly crass affair. There's been no remastering, it seems, but both sound and vision are clean enough and the print preserves the original's full 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. --Philip Kemp [show more]
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Tom Courtenay delivers a star-making turn as William Terrence Fisher ('Billy Liar') in one of the most memorable and universally acclaimed films of the 60s. Running from an unsympathetic working-class family, a pair of demanding fiancées and an insecure job at an undertakers, Billy escapes, Walter Mitty-like, into a world of fantasy where he can realize his dream ambitions. As work and family pressures build to new intolerable levels, Liz (an early, charismatic turn from Julie Christie), enters his drab life and offers Billy the one real chance he'll ever get to leave the past behind. Scripted by Keith Waterhouse from his own novel, and sensitively directed by John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy), Billy Liar is one of the few comedies of the British 'New Wave', marrying visual and verbal wit with a rather poignant rumination on the futility of dreams. Actors Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie, Wilfred Pickles, Mona Washbourne, Finlay Currie, Rodney Bewes, Leonard Rossiter & George Innes Director John Schlesinger Certificate PG Year 1963 Languages English
Undertaker's clerk Billy (Tom Courtenay) escapes his dreary small town existence in a 1950s Northern town by living in a fantasy world where he realises his ambitions. When his job, unsympathetic working class family and two fiancees threaten to become too much, he meets fashionable Julie Christie, who offers him his one chance for real escape.