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Billy Liar (1963)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 16 December 1963 (USA)
A lazy, irresponsible young clerk (Sir Tom Courtenay) in provincial Northern England lives in his own fantasy world and makes emotionally immature decisions as he alienates friends and family.

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writers:

Keith Waterhouse (screenplay), Willis Hall (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 6 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tom Courtenay ... Billy Fisher
Wilfred Pickles ... Geoffrey Fisher
Mona Washbourne ... Alice Fisher
Ethel Griffies ... Grandma Florence
Finlay Currie ... Duxbury
Gwendolyn Watts Gwendolyn Watts ... Rita
Helen Fraser Helen Fraser ... Barbara
Julie Christie ... Liz
Leonard Rossiter ... Emanuel Shadrack
Rodney Bewes ... Arthur Crabtree
George Innes ... Stamp
Leslie Randall Leslie Randall ... Danny Boon
Patrick Barr ... Insp. MacDonald
Ernest Clark ... Prison Governor
Godfrey Winn Godfrey Winn ... Disc Jockey
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Storyline

A young British clerk in a gloomy North Country undertaker's office, Billy (Sir Tom Courtenay) is bombarded daily by the propaganda of the media that all things are for the asking. This transparently false doctrine, coupled with the humdrum job and his wild imagination, leads him on frequent flights to "Ambrosia", a mythical kingdom where he is crowned King, General, lover, or any idealized hero the real situation of the moment makes him desire. His vacillating commitment and post-adolescent immaturity have created situations which make Ambrosia all the more attractive. He's succeeded in becoming engaged to two different girls, simultaneously, while in love with a third, Liz (Julie Christie). He's in hot water with his employer, having spent a rather large sum of postage money on his personal frivolities. And last, but not least, his dream of becoming a highly-paid, famous scriptwriter in London seems to be doomed to failure. The only person in his life capable of bringing him down to... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

one guy... three girls... one ring!

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 December 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lažov Bili See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$29,066
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Award: Prix Jean-Georges Auriol - René Gilson 1956. See more »

Quotes

Emanuel Shadrack: So that's your ambition, is it? Scriptwriting?
William Terrence 'Billy' Fisher: Oh, yes, it always has been.
Emanuel Shadrack: Do you get a salary each week then, or do you get paid by the joke?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre: Five to One (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Song of the Clyde
(uncredited)
Lyrics by R.Y. Bell
Music by Ian Gourlay
Performed by Kenneth McKellar
See more »

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User Reviews

 
nice and recognizable story - actual now and then
28 January 2004 | by veldman-hekeSee all my reviews

I was a teenager when the film was made, and immediately recognized the pictures of cities in the 60's, the cars, streets, buildings, the interior of the houses. Even so the way people looked and talked. Beautiful. I never read the book but it seemed to me that Billies dreams were put on screen a bit overdone but therefore also very funny. Like small boys càn exaggerate, but Billy was not a small boy anymore, and therefore really a sad guy. His family had had it with him, quarrelling all the time, his boss and colleagues saw through him and everywhere his time was running out. That he had 2-3 girlfriends was a miracle. His lying promises did the trick. Time for a change, one would say ! The climax was the end of course. All of a sudden Liz got on his right side with messages of love and persuaded him onto the train to London. She was enthusiastic and dedicated to get with him out of her dull-after-war-life and gloomy city. The message of the movie is: grab your chances now or don't. In the 60's that was a coming up and everyday question for many of the young people (and still is !) and therefore very actual (then and now). I liked the movie and how the actors created their characters. Tom Courtenay did it with very much conviction. A splendid, for that time spirited, and very good looking Julie Christie as Liz the new-age young girl, with no ties or limitations (responsibility ?) whatsoever to withhold her from doing what she wanted to. We saw more of these girls in Holland soon after 1963. See the movie: you won't regret it I'm sure. Hans Veldman.


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