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Set in Wakefield, the film concerns a bitter young Yorkshire coal miner, Frank Machin (Harris). Following a nightclub altercation in which he takes on the captain of the local rugby league club and smacks a couple of the others, he is recruited by the team's manager, who sees profit in his aggressive streak.Although at first somewhat uncoordinated at league, he impresses the team's owner, Gerald Weaver (Badel), with his spirit and brutality of his playing style during the trial. He is signed up to the top team as a loose forward (number 13) and impresses all with his aggressive forward play. He often punches or elbows the opposition players throughout the game.Off the field, Frank is much less successful. His recently widowed landlady, Mrs. Margaret Hammond (Roberts), a mother of two young children, lost her husband in an accident at Weaver's engineering firm but gained no compensation because it was ruled to have been a suicide. He uses her for sex, but in her grief she cannot return any affection; she finds his lack of social graces, for instance, at a smart restaurant, somewhat off-putting, and he is violent towards her. He leaves after a row over her late husband, Weaver and his predatory wife. He rejects the latter's advances and treats her as a commodity, to be used and discarded. Intending a reconciliation, he finds that Margaret is in hospital. She is unconscious, having suffered a brain haemorrhage shortly after their split; she soon dies without regaining consciousness. In the end he is seen as "just a great ape on a football field", vulnerable to the ravages of time and injury.
Theatrical : 1963-07-16 : United States of America
DVD : 2008-01-22