The Grass Arena

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Time Out says

Having already impressed with Conquest of the South Pole and Needles, MacKinnon here offers a tough, intelligent version of John Healy's autobiography. Brutalised by his father during a sickly childhood, Healy later ditched a promising boxing career to indulge his obsession for booze among the dossers in London's parks. Repeated stints in prison didn't help, and only when a cellmate taught him the game of chess did salvation seem a prospect. While MacKinnon makes great use of a highly mobile camera - though made for TV, this is real film-making - he and scriptwriter Frank Deasy respect the inherent drama of Healy's painful, often drily funny story, aided by an astonishing performance from Rylance as the shy, innocent and none-too-articulate Healy.
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Release details

UK release:

1991

Duration:

90 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Gillies MacKinnon

Cast:

Bunny May, Gerard Horan, Billy Boyle, Pete Postlethwaite, Lynsey Baxter, Mark Rylance, Harry Landis

Music:

Philip Appleby

Production Designer:

Tony Burrough

Editor:

Michael Parker

Cinematography:

Rex Maidment

Screenwriter:

Frank Deasy

Producer:

Ruth Baumgarten

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