DVD review: Poor Cow (4 out of 5)

Poor Cow

Poor Cow

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The 1960s are arguably most remembered for some innovative music, strange fashion sense and England winning the World Cup.

But it was also a time when a few visionary directors decided to take a close look at the world and try to show the realities of life.

Our own Ken Loach pioneered this new style of film-making, refusing to shy away from just how tough it could be to exist in the ‘swinging’ sixties.

Poor Cow hit the big screen in 1967 and instantly caused an uproar as it depicted a young woman of loose morals mixing with unsavoury types.

I remember that being the general feeling at the time, but watching the newly-restored version, recently released on DVD and Blu-Ray, that was far from the truth.

Carol White plays Joy, a young mother who lives with her abusive husband but has to fend for herself when he is jailed after a botched robbery.

Reduced to living in a squalid flat, Joy finds comfort with Tom, another thief but at least one who cares about her.

Terrence Stamp, fresh from his success with Far From The Madding Crowd, plays Tom, a role he found quite challenging thanks to Loach’s directing style.

This included having no script but whispering in his actor’s ear a simple premise and letting them get on with it.

It resulted in a very realistic film as the conversation is sometimes stilted or meandering.

Loach had already cut his teeth with TV work such as Cathy Come Home and Up The Junction but Poor Cow gave him chance to get his name to a far wider audience.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The name Ken Loach is revered in the industry and he has refused to succumb to the lure of Hollywood, still creating movies that shine a light on the injustices of society.

The restored version includes new interviews with Ken Loach, Terrence Stamp and writer Nell Dunn, plus an archive interview with the late Carol White.