15 For 15: Celebrating Rialto Pictures

Billy Liar

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Billy Liar
John Schlesinger, 1963
UK | Format: 35mm | 98m minutes

Tom Courtney and Julie Christie shot to international stardom as a feckless aspiring writer and one of his myriad lady loves in director John Schlesinger’s dazzling comic fantasy, adapted from the smash-hit West End play that was itself based on Keith Waterhouse's cult novel. Stuck in a small Yorkshire town, worn down by nagging relatives, a dead-end job as an undertaker’s clerk, and the rival affections of two fiancees, Billy Fisher (Tom Courtney) routinely loses himself in an elaborate fantasy life in which he is supreme ruler of a mythical kingdom called Ambrosia. Then, into reality, steps old flame Julie Christie (in her star-making role), introduced by an unforgettable New-Wavish, purse-swinging saunter through town. One of the rare comedies to emerge from the “kitchen sink” realism of the 1960s Brit New Wave, this alternately hilarious and mortifying (sometimes both at once) romp has been hailed by critics as one of the greatest British films ever made.

Series: 15 For 15: Celebrating Rialto Pictures

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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