I wish I could see a stage production of Shelagh Delaney‘s play, A Taste of Honey, since it makes for a very small if successful motion picture. Yet the use of a great actor—young Rita Tushingham—helps to turn this 1961 British product to curious gold. Tushingham plays Jo, who feels little loved by her mother (flawless Dora Bryan) and is impudent. Making what is perhaps the worst mistake of her life, she gets sufficiently intimate with a young black sailor to become pregnant with his child. Departing, he doesn’t know about it. Jo gains a friend in a competent homosexual boy, Geoffrey, but he too feels he must leave her.
The film deals with abandonment, even by and of the disrespected of society. Tony Richardson‘s directing is graceful and felt, the extreme closeups well-chosen. The screenplay, which he co-wrote with Delaney, works. He got winning performances from Paul Danquah as the sailor and Robert Stephens (Peter Smith) as well.