A Taste of Honey 1961 Criterion Collection
The revolutionary British New Wave films of the early 1960s were celebrated for their uncompromising depictions of working-class lives and relations between the sexes. Directed by Tony Richardson, a leading light of that movement, and based on one of the most controversial plays of its time, A Taste of Honey features Rita Tushingham in her star-making debut role as a disaffected teenager finding her way amid the economic desperation of industrial Manchester, and despite her absent, self-absorbed mother.

Lonely teenager Jo (Rita Tushingham) lives with her neglectful, promiscuous mother (Dora Bryan) in Manchester. After a brief romance with a black sailor, she finds herself pregnant, and her mother is too busy getting married to a lout (Robert Stephens) to pay much attention. Rather than living as part of an unhappy family, she opts to move in with her gay friend Geoff (Murray Melvin) and form their own version of a family.

Tony Richardson's A Taste of Honey is a truly groundbreaking film that, among other things, is largely responsible for the legitimization of homosexual characters in mainstream British cinema. It is based on Shelagh Delaney's popular play of the same name, which Richardson had previously staged.

Director: Tony Richardson
Cast: Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens, Murray Melvin
Country: UK
Genre: Drama

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 01:40:55 | 45.1 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English


Tony Richardson - in this archival interview, director Tony Richardson discusses some of the trends that defined the British New Wave films, the importance of freedom in his work (film and theater work), the play by Shelagh Delaney that inspired A Taste of Honey and some of the similarities and differences between the two (Tony Richardson also directed a stage production of the play), the poetic quality of the film, its style and atmosphere and some of its key theatrical qualities, the pictorial qualities of the northern towns in England, etc. The interview was conducted by critic Gideon Bachman at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. In English, not subtitled. (15 min, 1080p).

Momma Don't Allow (1955) - this short documentary film was directed by Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz at the Art and Viv Sanders' Wood Green Jazz Club in North London. It was part of the Free Cinema movement, whose goal was to depict everyday life and relationships, which was founded by Tony Richardson, Lindsay Anderson (If....), and Karel Reisz. The documentary was lensed by cinematographer Walter Lassally, who also collaborated with Tony Richardson on A Taste of Honey. Music only. (22 min, 1080p).

The Actors - presented here are two exclusive new video interviews with actors Rita Tushingham (Jo) and Murray Melvin (Geoff). The interviews were conducted exclusively for Criterion in London in May 2016.

1. Rita Tushingham - the actress recalls how A Taste of Honey effectively launched her acting career, and discusses the shooting of the film in Manchester, her interactions with Tony Richardson and Dora Bryan, the director's working methods, cinematographer Walter Lassally's on-location shooting (the bulk of the footage was shot with a hand-held camera), how important the film was for women's roles in cinema, Jo and Geoff's relationship, etc. In English, not subtitled. (19 min, 1080p).

2. Murray Melvin - Murray Melvin discusses his acting career, his first encounter with Shelagh Delaney, why and how A Taste of Honey broke all sorts of different barriers (with some very interesting comments about homosexuality in British cinema and theater during the 1950s), his work with Rita Tushingham, Tony Richardson's working methods and how he had to adapt to them, the success of the film, etc. In English, not subtitled. (19 min, 1080p).

Walter Lassally - in this archival video essay, cinematographer Walker Lassally discusses the production history of A Taste of Honey, the decision to shoot it on different film stocks (with specific comments about the grain structure of different segments), the use of reflected light, the use of the Arriflex camera whose mobility made it possible to shoot on location and have the intended fluid appearance, the treatment of light throughout the film, etc. The essay was produced in 1998. In English, not subtitled. (20 min, 1080i).

Remaking British Theater - in this new video interview, theater scholar Kate Dorney explains why A Taste of Honey is important as a play and film, and discusses the state of British theater during the 1950s, the type of themes that routinely appeared in plays (and the ones that were not allowed by the censors), the use of language in the play and the film (rhythm, articulation, delivery), the censors' attitude towards homosexuality and specifically towards Geoff's character, etc. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in London in May 2016. In English, not subtitled. (22 min, 1080p).

Close-Up - presented here is an archival interview with playwright Shelagh Delaney in which she discusses her childhood years in Salford, England, and A Taste of Honey. The interview first aired in 1960 on the television series Close-Up. In English, not subtitled. (16 min, 1080p).

DVD9 | NTSC | 01:40:49 | 6.74 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English

• Audio interview with director and coscreenwriter Tony Richardson from the 1962 Cannes Film Festival
• Momma Don't Allow (1956), a Free Cinema short film by Richardson, shot by Lassally

I do not know if there is a second DVD, but Criterion and Amazon lists this release as only having 1 disc.