One of the best social-realist films to come out of Britain in the early 1960s was This Sporting Life (1963) with Richard Harris as a Yorkshire coal miner who takes out his frustrations on the rugby field. A chance to turn pro has him considering how many friends he’s willing to step on to get out of poverty.Although the filmhas been previously released on DVD, Criterion’s two-disc deluxe edition comes with lots of extras including commentary by the screenwriter, some early shorts by director Lindsay Anderson, and a documentary on his career.
Also released this week is The Young Savages (1961) which plays like a non-musical version of West Side Story. Burt Lancaster plays an assistant district attorney prosecuting three Italian boys accused of murdering a Puerto Rican teenager. It’s by no means a great movie but John Frankenheimer’s direction has a certain freshness that makes it a respectable American companion to This Sporting Life. The DVD comes with extras and is only available as part of The John Frankenheimer Collection box set along with The Manchurian Candidate, The Train, and Ronin.