This Sporting Life (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes

This Sporting Life1963

This Sporting Life (1963)



Critic Consensus: Appropriately hard-hitting on narrative as well as physical levels, The Sporting Life remains a British "kitchen sink" classic that's beautiful to look at and leaves a lingering mark.

This Sporting Life Photos

Movie Info

Adapted by David Storey from his own novel, this drama stars Richard Harris as an athletic coal miner who aspires to the greener pastures of professional rugby. Soon establishing himself as one of the most brutal and arrogant players in the business, Harris begins amassing a fortune.

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Richard Harris
as Frank Machin
Rachel Roberts
as Mrs. Margaret Hammond
Alan Badel
as Gerald Weaver
William Hartnell
as 'Dad' Johnson
Colin Blakely
as Maurice Braithwaite
Vanda Godsell
as Mrs. Weaver
Jack Watson
as Len Miller
Anthony Woodruff
as Head Waiter
Katherine Parr
as Mrs. Farrer
Tom Clegg
as Gower
John Gill
as Cameron
Ken Traill
as Trainer
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Critic Reviews for This Sporting Life

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (11)

This has its flaws and certainly its detractors but this dated British social-realist epic has a power to it.

May 30, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The film is raw and confident, but it's a little shallow, too.

June 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

I can't think of a sport movie that is better photographed. The black and white cinematography is gorgeously stark, the perfect medium for this bleakly unforgiving tale.

June 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

This Sporting Life shrewdly anticipates modern Britain: a dour, yet thrilling and exhilarating film.

June 5, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

I'm tempted to see it as one of the strongest films of that period, every frame of which pulsates with drama, class confusion and erotic force.

June 5, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Lindsay Anderson, making his debut as a feature director, brings the keen, observant eye of a documentary man to many vivid episodes without sacrificing the story line.

January 22, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for This Sporting Life


Richard Harris gives a very 'Brando-esque' performance in this UK classic. Simply fantastic from start to finish.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

"This Sporting Life" is one of the most famous of the British "kitchen sink" dramas of the 1950s and 1960s ("kitchen sink" films were very gritty, social realist films which were very popular in Britain at one time). Frank Machin (Richard Harris) is a brutal, young miner in a city in northern England. Hoping for fame and fortune, he becomes a successful Rugby League football player. He uses his fame and fortune, along with physical violence, to try to force his widowed landlady (Rachel Roberts) to fall for him. Photographed in bleak black-and-white, the film's scenes of emotional and physical domestic violence are still shocking today. Also notable are the violent, stylishly-shot rugby matches. The cast are brilliant without exception, especially Richard Harris who manages to invest even his totally unsympathetic character with some degree of humanity.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


The British Raging Bull.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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