A Taste of Honey is a 1961 British film adaptation of the play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. Delaney adapted the screenplay herself, aided by director Tony Richardson, who had previously directed the first production of the play. It is an exemplar of a gritty genre of British film that has come to be called kitchen sink realism and was the inspiration behind the song "Your Mother Should Know", which is on the 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles.
The film opened on 15 September 1961 at the Leicester Square Theatre in London's West End.
Jo is a 17-year old Salford schoolgirl, with an abusive, forty-year-old alcoholic mother, Helen. After sustaining a fall while walking past the dockyards after school, Jo meets a black sailor called Jimmy who invites her onto his ship to attend to her grazed knee. They soon start a brief romantic relationship, after which Jimmy returns to his ship and departs. Relations between Jo and her mother become strained when her mother meets and marries a new man, Peter Smith.
Feeling rejected by her mother, Jo starts a job in a shoe shop and rents a flat on her own. She meets a gay textile design student, Geoffrey Ingham, and invites him to move in with her. When Jo discovers she is pregnant by Jimmy, Geoff is supportive of her, even offering to marry her, saying at one point, "You need somebody to love you while you're looking for somebody to love."
Helen re-appears on the scene after the failure of her relationship with Peter, who turns out to have been a selfish lout. She moves in with Jo, which causes tensions between Helen and Geoff. Geoff decides he can no longer stay at the flat and moves out, leaving Helen to care for Jo and her soon-to-be-born baby. Symbolic of Helen's disdain of Geoffrey is her return, near the end of the film, of the bassinet he gave to Jo.
- Dora Bryan as Helen
- Robert Stephens as Peter Smith
- Rita Tushingham as Josephine ("Jo")
- Murray Melvin as Geoffrey Ingham
- Paul Danquah as Jimmy
- Margo Cunningham as Landlady
- Michael Bilton as Landlord
- Hazel and Stephen Blears as street urchins (uncredited)
Awards and honours
The film won four BAFTA awards: Richardson won Best British Screenplay (with Delaney) and Best British Film, Bryan won Best Actress and Tushingham was named Most Promising Newcomer. Tushingham and Melvin were Best Actress and Actor at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. In America 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 Criterion Collection will release a new, restored 4K digital transfer of the film on Blu-ray and DVD on August 23, 2016.
- A Taste of Honey at the British Film Institute
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