A rebellious youth, sentenced to Ruxton Towers, a boy’s reformatory, for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner.
During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor’s prize runner.
There are great performances by Tom Courtenay (pictured at right) and James Bolam as the two borstal boys.
Colin (Courtenay in his debut performance) is an embittered delinquent with nihilistically rejects everything around him, much like Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1961).
The story of Colin’s refusal to fit into the pattern of ‘model prisoner’ or ‘consumer’ is well conveyed by director Tony Richardson and the scenes which follow Colin’s runs through the woods are beautifully shot.
While the film represents class through the use of stereotypes (such as the ‘progressive’ prison governor and the patronising employer) it remains as powerful and relevant today as it ever was.
William Ash Hammond