|A Taste of Honey|
UK release window card
|Directed by||Tony Richardson|
|Produced by||Tony Richardson|
|Screenplay by||Shelagh Delaney|
|Based on||A Taste of Honey|
by Shelagh Delaney
|Music by||John Addison|
|Edited by||Antony Gibbs|
|Distributed by||British Lion Films|
A Taste of Honey is a 1961 British film adaptation of the play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. Delaney wrote the screenplay, aided by director Tony Richardson, who had directed the play on the stage. It is an exemplar of a gritty genre of British film that has come to be called kitchen sink realism.
The story is set in a run-down, post-industrial area of Salford. Jo (played by Rita Tushingham) is a 17-year-old schoolgirl, with a self-centred, 40-year-old mother with a drinking problem, Helen (Dora Bryan).. After a fall while walking past the Manchester Ship Canal, Jo meets a black sailor called Jimmy (Paul Danquah) who invites her onboard his ship to attend to her grazed knee. The two accidentally meet again and start a brief romantic relationship, but Jimmy's ship soon sails and they part. Relations between Jo and her mother become further strained when her mother courts and marries a self-made businessman, Peter Smith (Robert Stephens).
Feeling rejected by her mother, Jo leaves school, starts a job in a shoe shop and rents accommodation in an old workshop on her own. She meets a gay textile design student, Geoffrey Ingham (Murray Melvin), and invites him to stay. Together they make the workshop more livable. When Jo discovers she is pregnant by Jimmy, Geoff is supportive, even offering to marry her, saying "You need somebody to love you while you're looking for somebody to love". Her new step-father Peter rejects Jo and regards her gay friend with contempt.
A few weeks later, Jo's mother Helen re-appears on the scene, ever needy, after the failure of her marriage to Peter. She moves in with Jo, which causes tensions between Helen and Geoff. Symbolic of Helen's jealousy of Geoffrey is her return of the old-fashioned basket that he had adapted for Jo to use as a cot for her baby. Geoff decides he can no longer stay at the workshop, leaving Helen to care for Jo and her soon-to-be-born baby.
The film won four BAFTA awards: Richardson won Best British Screenplay for Sheila Delaney and Best British Film. Bryan won Best Actress and Tushingham was named Most Promising Newcomer.
In spite of dealing with several topics then rarely touched on in Hollywood movies, the film won Tushingham a 1963 Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer and got Richardson a 1963 Directors Guild of America award nomination. Delaney and Richardson also won a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award.
A Taste of Honey was ranked at 56th place in the BFI Top 100 British films list, made in 1999.
The film made a profit of £29,064.