Rent This Sporting Life Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental

Rent This Sporting Life (1963)

3.7 of 5 from 161 ratings
2h 9min
  • General info
  • Available formats
Miner Frank Machin (Richard Harris) lodges with a widow, Mrs. Hammond (Rachel Roberts). His competitive nature and powerful physique lead him to join the local rugby team and, as his career progresses, so too his brutal nature distances him from those around him. Success - and perhaps a new sense of insecurity - seems to make Frank harsher and cruder...
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Karel Reisz
David Storey
Carlton Video
Classics, Drama, Romance, Sports & Sport Films
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1964 BAFTA Best Actress

1963 Cannes Best Actor

Release Date:
Run Time:
129 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W
Release Date:
Run Time:
134 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0, English LPCM Mono
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.66:1
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Four image galleries, including extensive promotional and behind-the-scenes shots
  • Promotional material PDF's
  • Commemorative booklet by film historian David Rolinson

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Reviews (3) of This Sporting Life

Superb 'angry young man' drama - This Sporting Life review by RP

Spoiler Alert

From the novel of the same name by David Storey with the author writing the screenplay for the film and directed by Lindsay Anderson, this is superb example of the 'British New Wave' / 'angry young man' / 'kitchen sink' dramas of the late 1950s / early 1960s. Set in Wakefield, it tells the tale of a working class man (Frank Machin, a miner, played by Richard Harris) who makes the transition to a well paid (for the day) rugby league player. Frank lodges with a recently widowed woman (Mrs Hammond, played by Rachel Roberts) who received minimal compensation when her husband was killed in an industrial accident at an engineering company owned by Gerald Weaver, who is also the chairman of the rugby league club. Frank falls in love with his landlady but she is still grieving for her husband and is unable to return his clumsy affections. The film ends with the death in hospital of Mrs Hammond and Frank Machin doomed to remain as 'a great ape on a football field'. So far, so bleak. What lifts this film above its gritty backdrop is the quality of the acting. Both Rachel Roberts and Richard Harris earned Oscar nominations, and Rachel Roberts won a BAFTA for Best Actress. The other characters in the film are played by an excellent cast of well-known British actors including Arthur Lowe, William Hartnell (who went on the become the first Doctor Who), Leonard Rossiter, Alan Badel, Colin Blakely, George Sewell to name but a few. If I have a slight criticism it's about the accents – Rachel Roberts is Welsh, Richard Harris Irish – not many Yorkshire accents here :) But that's a minor point - the film is always included in any list of 'best British films' and with good reason. Excellent stuff – highly recommended. 5/5 stars.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Great film, but why 4:3 version? - This Sporting Life review by CP Customer

Spoiler Alert

Regularly listed as one of the best ever British films this was the film that made Richard Harris a star. It's a powerful film, unflinching in it's portrayal of the problems that can hit young men with too much money.

But why do Cinema Paradiso send out a 4:3 version? The film was shot in 5:3 (1.66:1) and (newer) r2 DVDs are available with this ratio so why are getting palmed off with crap older ones that spoil e original composition of the image?

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Northern Grimness. - This Sporting Life review by Steve

Spoiler Alert

Rugged and emotionally rancorous social realism, adapted by David Storey from his own debut novel. This is one of the key films of the British New Wave; a raw, dour account of a violent and immature outsider who makes a career in Rugby League rather than go down the pit. It was shot on location around Wakefield with a documentary approach.

Storey had been a miner and a rugby pro, and there is an impression that he knows his territory. And for the first hour while the film plugs away at rendering the lawless violence on the field of play as an allegory for a wider presentation of a hard knock life, this works well, boosted by Richard Harris' candid performance as the angry young man.

If it ultimately disappoints, the responsibility probably rests with Lindsay Anderson, who directs his first feature film. The drama eventually congests with humdrum, sclerotic dialogue which pads out the characters, but has no real dramatic purpose. In the later scenes Harris is allowed to perform an incongruous tribute to Marlon Brando.

And it goes on way past the final point of interest. The jumbled up timeline stifles the momentum. There is some good photography, and a memorable performance from William Hartnell as the scout who discovers the rugby star, but is soon forgotten. It's pretty stodgy, though sure to be of interest to fans of sixties kitchen sink realism.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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