Sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rebellious English punk Colin Smith (Courtenay) soon attracts the interest of the school's Governor (Redgrave) for his athletic prowess. Hoping to groom Colin for a cross-country race against a public school, the Governor endows him with special privileges. But is the embittered Colin willing to be house-trained?
One of the best of Britain's "Angry Young Man" films, Richardson's expressive drama hinges on the complex psychology of Colin, an uneducated but cunning youth still smarting from the recent death of his father. Richardson builds tension by cutting between the restrictions and tensions of reform-school life and Colin's recollection of events leading up to his arrest and detention. Courtenay (of "Billy Liar" fame) gives a haunting performance in the title role, and Redgrave is masterful playing a goodhearted administrator obsessed with rehabilitation — and winning a trophy. For a powerful expression of working-class disaffection, go the distance with this "Runner."