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Poor Cow 15 rating

Ken Loach’s perceptive, personal, and moving debut feature film tells the story of a young mother’s struggles while her husband is in jail.

Drama 1968 101 mins

Director: Ken Loach


Following his Wednesday Plays Up the Junction (1965) and Cathy Comes Home (1966), Ken Loach directed his first feature film with the powerful Poor Cow. Reuniting him with his Cathy Comes Home star Carol White, the film follows Joy (White) as she copes with working-class pressures while her husband is in jail. However, she suddenly finds herself romantically involved with young crook Dave (Terence Stamp) in what could be a hopeful change. What follows is a unique character study and portrait of London in one of its most colourful, textured periods, seen through the eyes of one of Britain’s most acclaimed filmmakers.

Ken Loach adapts Neil Dunn’s novel of the same name in this sensitive but realistic portrait of a woman trying to get by during hard times. Featuring another stand-out turn from White and one of Stamp’s earliest performances, Poor Cow heralded the birth of one of British cinema’s leading lights, which continued to shine in films like Kes (1969), The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006), and I, Daniel Blake (2016). The film was given an unforeseen meta-textural postscript in 1999 when Steven Soderbergh incorporated substantial excerpts of it into his crime drama, The Limey.