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John Schlesinger's First Masterpieces

MUBI Special

The first three feature films by British director John Schlesinger (later acclaimed in Hollywood for Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man) were a consecutive series of remarkable dramas tapping into the generational turnover in his country in the 1960s. Starring June Ritchie, Alan Bates, Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie, and Dirk Bogarde, class, gender and sex constitute the driving forces, as well as constricting restraints, of a new era of adulthood for both British men and women.


John Schlesinger United Kingdom, 1965


We close our John Schlesinger tribute with the third of his early masterpieces. Julie Christie returns in front of the camera for this sharp satire of swinging London—she would go on to win an Oscar for her role—while the movie continues to contend as one of the great portraits of the 1960s.

Billy Liar

John Schlesinger United Kingdom, 1963


John Schlesinger’s second feature—another instant classic—built on his first, again working with screenwriter Willis Hall to capture social frustrations of a new, young Britain. Tom Courtenay (recently in 45 Years) is perfect as Billy, but we adore young Julie Christie’s breakthrough performance.

A Kind of Loving

John Schlesinger United Kingdom, 1962


Before coming to Hollywood and making Midnight Cowboy, John Schlesinger began his feature filmmaking career with three masterpieces of a new generation of British cinema. His debut, which won Berlin’s Golden Bear, is a richly textured portrait of the social tensions between class, sex and romance.

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