Main Content

This Sporting Life [2 Discs] [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1963]

Release Date:01/22/2008
Lindsay Anderson was among the most intelligent and provocative British filmmakers to emerge in the last half of the 20th Century, but the DVD era hasn't been especially kind to him, with most of his work unavailable in the digital format (and barely extant on home video at all). Thankfully, that's began to change; If . . . and O Lucky Man! finally made their way to North American DVD in 2007, and in early 2008 the Criterion Collection released a superb edition of Anderson's debut feature, 1963's This Sporting Life. Arguably the boldest, most singular films to come from the British "Angry Young Man" school of the early Sixties, This Sporting Life has been given a superb widescreen transfer letterboxed at 1.66:1, and enhanced for anamorphic play on widescreen monitors. The rich, gritty details of Denys Coop's black and white camerawork are beautifully rendered, and the images look every bit as good here as they did on the big screen. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo and sounds full and crisp, with the imaginative sound mix sounding quite impressive in this release. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles for the hard of hearing but no multiple language options. Disc one of this set contains the feature, with an optional audio commentary track featuring film critic Paul Ryan (who has edited a book of Anderson's writings) talking about the picture with assistance from David Storey, who wrote the film's screenplay as well as the novel upon which it was based. A second disc includes a number of bonus items, including Is That All There Is?, a 1993 documentary by Anderson in which he looks back at his life and career over the course of a seemingly ordinary day (it would prove to be the last film he completed in his lifetime), as well as two early documentary shorts, 1948's Meet The Pioneers and 1952's Wakefield Express. Lois Sutcliffe Smith, a close friend of Anderson's, helped produce Meet The Pioneers and got him the job making the film; she appears in an on-camera interview sharing her memories of making the movie and Anderson's earliest days as a director. And finally, Lindsay Anderson: Lucky Man? is a profile produced for BBC Scotland that offers a fond but unsentimental look at Anderson's life in the arts. Criterion's edition of This Sporting Life not only offers an excellent presentation of a landmark film, but paints a fascinating portrait of a gifted and uncompromising artist, and is strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in British cinema.

Item Added.View List

Add to List

    No lists found. Create one today.
    Add Item
    Cardmember Offers


    Special Features

    • Disc One: The Film:
    • New restored high-definition digital transfer
    • Audio commentary featuring Paul Ryan, editor of Never Apologise: The Collected Writings of Lindsay Anderson, and David Storey, screenwriter and author of This Sporting Life
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Disc Two: The Supplements:
    • Lindsay Anderson: Lucky Man? (2004), a short documentary from BBC Scotland featuring interviews with many of the director's friends and collaborators
    • New video interview with Anderson's first producer and close friend Lois Sutcliffe Smith
    • Meet the Pioneers (1948), Anderson's first film, a documentary short about a mining engineering firm
    • Wakefield Express (1952), an early documentary by Anderson about the town that later served as the setting for This Sporting Life
    • Is That All There Is? (1993), Anderson's autobiographical final film
    • Plus: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard and an article by Anderson from 1963


    This Sporting Life
    Adapted by David Storey from his own novel, This Sporting Life stars Richard Harris as Frank, an athletic coal miner who aspires to the greener pastures of professional rugby. Soon establishing himself as one of the most brutal and arrogant players in the business, Frank begins to amass a fortune. He also falls in love with his landlady, Mrs. Hammond (Rachel Roberts), who initially resists his advances. When she finally gives in, their relationship hinges on sex alone, as Frank practically begs Mrs. Hammond to give of herself emotionally and she remains incapable. At the wedding ceremony for one of Frank's teammates, Mrs. Hammond unexpectedly lashes out at her swaggering lover. They split up, but Frank, who until now has equated happiness with wealth, is unable to get over the permanent loss. In the end, with nothing else left, all of Frank's self-worth becomes contingent on his rugby performances, though Frank and the other players are exploited to such a degree that this also proves disastrous. Widely regarded as one of the finest British feature films ever produced, the gritty and bleak This Sporting Life not only marked former documentary filmmaker Lindsay Anderson's first feature, but became one of the harbingers of the "Angry Young Man" school of filmmaking. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Richard Harris
      Richard Harris - Frank Machin
    • Rachel Roberts
      Rachel Roberts - Mrs. Hammond
    • Alan Badel
      Alan Badel - Weaver
    • William Hartnell
      William Hartnell - Johnson
    • Colin Blakely
      Colin Blakely - Maurice Braithwaite

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.