With 'Moneyball' and 'Warrior' in theaters, we survey the genre
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4. “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (Tony Richardson, 1962)
Yes, another downbeat working-class drama from 1960s Britain – but where “This Sporting Life” is deeply ambivalent about the relationship between sporting activity and personal betterment, Richardson’s still-searing Angry Young Man tale does depict the titular activity as a kind of therapy for Tom Courtenay’s prickly juvenile offender – though the healing doesn’t necessarily come in the competitive context his reform-school coaches might wish him to focus on. Bitter class conflicts and complex self-realization are incorporated into the film’s single track; the final race is as loaded and surprising as any in film, with “winning” very much a secondary priority.