The screenplay, like the short story, was written by Alan Sillitoe and directed by Tony Richardson, one of new young directors emerging from documentary films, specifically some 1950s filmmakers known as the Free Cinema movement. It tells the story of a rebellious youth (Tom Courtenay), sentenced to a young offenders Borstal for robbing a bakery. He rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, memories of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's (Michael Redgrave) prize runner. Set in a grim environment of early 1960s Britain and like other films which deal with rebellious youth, it is a story of how youth chooses to defy authority, and in so doing securing his self-esteem. Class consciousness abounds which Richardson shows as the very basis of British society at the time.
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1962)