A Taste of Honey – April/May 1962

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April 30, 1962

A TASTE OF HONEY, the film adaptation of Shelagh Delaney’s acclaimed British play about  an unwed expectant teenage mother (Jo) in a gritty post-industrial British city, opens on this date in New York. The film is directed by Tony Richardson, a rising and gifted interpeter of working-class dramas of the British “kitchen sink” movement, with Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer among his credits. Richardson chose a newcomer, nineteen year-old Rita Tushingham, as the film’s lead, replacing Joan Plowright, who had played the part on the stage in London and Broadway opposite Angela Lansbury as her mother, Helen (played by Dora Bryan in the film).

After Helen marries a younger man and leaves Jo to fend for herself, Jo promptly engages in a love affair with a black sailor that leaves her pregnant. She takes a young gay artist as her roommate (Murray Melvin), and demonstrates a resourceful pluckiness that is reflected in composer John Addison’ s upbeat score. The film addresses several social issues, including inter-racial romance and a tolerant attitude toward homosexuality, new to the screen. Both Richardson and Addison would win Oscars the following year for directing and scoring Oscar’s best picture winner, TOM JONES, while their accomplished work in A TASTE OF HONEY serves as a preview of that achievement. Meanwhile, both Tushingham and Melvin were named best actress and actor at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. The New York Times would designate A TASTE OF HONEY as the best film of 1962 at year’s end.

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