In honor of Shelagh Delaney, the playwright who passed away last week, this week’s selection is the film adaptation of her most popular work, A Taste of Honey – a play she wrote at the age of 18.
The movie took a look at an England that stood on the precipice of social and sexual change. It was directed by Tony Richardson and starred Rita Tushingham in her feature film debut. She would later star in other films such as The Girl With Green Eyes. This film is also one of a spate of British films made during this time that focused on the world of England’s working classes in a realistic, straightforward way.
While A Taste of Honey may not be considered overlooked in its home territory, it may not have the same recognition to American audiences, especially those of my age. In very much the same way that The White Bus (also based on a Delaney work) looked the England post-WWII, post-industrial, working class life (but from a surrealistic perspective), A Taste of Honey has a gloomy, bleak environment. A Taste of Honey is a bit more personal and grounded in its look at the life of teenager Jo (Tushingham) – a life that is seemingly as glum as her surroundings. Her unstable life is primarily dominated by her absent mother, who is often absent because she is off with her man of the moment.
Jo eventually befriends and ultimately has a brief interlude with a black sailor, which results in an unplanned pregnancy. She also strikes out on her own and shares a flat with a gay design student.
Despite this murky, setting and themes, I felt this was quite an entertaining film, mainly on the strength of Ruth Tushingham’s performance.
* Be sure to visit Todd’s blog, Sweet Freedom for more overlooked selections residing out in the blogosphere.