Tonight's Saturday Night Cinema is a taut, tough to watch film, Look Back in Anger. And with this film began the British realism movement. Richard Burton plays "the principal character in this ferocious account of the emotional vandalism committed by what is popularly known as an 'angry young man.'" Burton is, as always, larger than life. He is scary (even to most adults) juxtaposed to Claire Bloom's sweet, ethereal (pathetic) sweetness as the abused mistress. Burton is delicious to watch, He is so damn manly and smoldering hot that even when he is cast a total bastard, you can't help but lust after the brute.
Love affair: Richard Burton and Claire Bloom in 'Look Back in Anger' (1959)
On a side note, Burton and Bloom had a torrid five-year affair. It adds a certain titillation for the viewer (at least it did for me. )
The NY Times film review: Look Back in Anger (1958) By Bosley Crowther, September 16, 1959
THE fury and hate that John Osborne was able to pack into a flow of violent words in his stage play, "Look Back in Anger," are not only matched but also documented in the film that the original stage director, Tony Richardson, has made from that vicious play.
In a rush of pictorial reinforcement that leads one to suspect Mr. Richardson was just itching for the cinema medium to fill the background and heighten the fever of the play, the passion of the characters now comes at you through the drab and depressing milieu of a genuine British midlands city and the sweatiness of an ugly slum.
The film, produced in England by Harry Saltzman, opened here last night at the Forum and Baronet Theatres with benefit showings for the March of Dimes.
In our eyes, the principal character in this ferocious account of the emotional vandalism committed by what is popularly known as an "angry young man" is still a conventional weakling, a routine crybaby who cannot quite cope with the problems of a tough environment and, so, vents his spleen in nasty words. And the two women who let him run over them, his wife and his mistress, still seem to us to be strangely gullible creatures, a little self-piteous themselves.
But, at least, in this caca-phonic picture, which has a sort of metallic clatter and bang and a throbbing, eccentric jazz tempo that is picked up from time to time on the sound track. Mr. Richardson does provide us with a sense of the dismal atmosphere the prevalence of social stagnation, that helps to frustrate our young man.