NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING
(director: Karel Reisz; screenwriter: Alan Sillitoe/based
on the novel by Alan
Sillitoe; cinematographer: Freddie Francis;
editor: Seth Holt;
Dankworth; cast: Albert Finney (Arthur
Seaton), Shirley Anne Field (Doreen), Rachel Roberts
(Brenda), Hylda Baker (Aunt Ada), Norman Rossington
(Bert), Bryan Pringle (Jack), Edna Morris (Mrs. Bull), Irene Richmond (Doreen's
mom), Robert Cawdron (Robboe, foreman), Frank Pettitt (Mr.
Seaton); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tony Richardson/Harry
Saltzman; Video Best; 1970-UK)
"Albert Finney's belligerent performance is simply smashing."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
In his feature film directing debut, the Czech born Karel Reisz ("Night Must Fall"/"Isadora"/"Who'll Stop the Rain?") does a good job with this hard-hitting British New Wave film in keeping it absorbing. It's one of those early "Angry Young Man" British films of the 1960s adapted from a literary work. "Saturday" is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Alan Sillitoe, who does the screenplay. It was a smash box-office hit in England, as its many youthful viewers identified with the hero's rebellious saying of 'Don't let the bastards grind you down.' Albert Finney's belligerent performance is simply smashing. In his first starring film role Finney plays Arthur Seaton, the 22-year-old Nottingham factory worker who is discontented with his lot in life and rebels by looking only for a good time. The lad says "all the rest is propaganda."
works hard all week at the lathe, and parties on
weekends at the local pubs. The lad still lives with
his lifeless telly watching working-class folks (Elsie Wagstaff & Frank Pettitt), who he
says are 'dead from the neck
lad finds some brief moments of joy in his Saturday
night affair with Brenda (Rachel Roberts),
who has a child and is married to the
square Jack (Bryan Pringle). He's
a factory worker in the same plant as Albert.
picks up at the local pub Doreen (Anne Field),
a pretty factory worker from another plant. To his
disappointment Doreen won't give him sex, as they go
on conventional dates to the movies. Meanwhile
Arthur learns he made Brenda pregnant. She at first
wants an abortion, but when she spots him with
Doreen she breaks off the relationship realizing it
was just a hopeless one of convenience and decides
to keep the child. When Jack discovers her
infidelity, he has his tough soldier brother and
soldier friend give Arthur a well-deserved beating
and then takes Brenda back. The beating seems to
have changed Arthur's defiant attitude and he asks
the superficial Doreen to marry him. The couple plan
on moving into a new housing development,
with him returning to his job after recouping for a
week from his beating. It leaves off with Arthur ready
to live a seemingly dull married conventional life
like those he rails against and his last rebellious
act is to throw a stone at one of the new houses in
his resentment that life is cold, but that his boozing
and party way of defying the system won't change it.
It's a grim post-war working-class drama, with not much to cheer about except that it gave the mass audience some thrills because its working-class hero was remembered for thumbing his nose at the authorities. This captured the mood of the times. The film is important because its success made it possible for real life dramas to follow that were without artificial happy Hollywood endings. Its feisty hero's hedonistic individual rebellion had no traction to change things for the better for the working-class man, even if the rebel is sincere in his rebellion and that he became part of that country's sexual revolution in the 1960s.
REVIEWED ON 1/25/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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