Poor Cow (1967)

Carol White (Cathy Come Home) stars in Ken Loach’s debut film, as a working-class single mother living in the London slums.

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Film details

Alternative titles

  • No Tears for Joy Alternative

Cast & Credits

Introduction

“Loach’s outstanding gift is a rare one – he has a quite astonishing rapport with actors. He has carried this talent over to the big screen, getting a marvellously warm and likeable portrait from Carol White.”
Brenda Davies, Sight & Sound, 1967

Ken Loach’s debut feature stars Carol White, the star of his earlier Cathy Come Home and Up the Junction, as a young working-class mother living in London who embarks on a number of tumultuous relationships, often with criminals. Although living in poverty in the slums and mistreated by her lovers, Joy remains resilient about her lot.

Unusually for the director, Loach uses techniques that distance the audience from the action, such as Joy’s voiceover and inter-titles more reminiscent of the silent era. For the first time he cast a well known star, Terence Stamp (The Collector, Far from the Madding Crowd), although he would continue to use non-professionals in his later work. It’s not one of his greatest critical successes, but Poor Cow shows Loach’s concerns with society’s treatment of the working-class were there from the start of his film career.

Scenes from Poor Cow showing Terence Stamp as a young man would be used in the flashback sequences of Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey (1999).

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