Monday, 10 December 2012

Review - Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960 - Dir. Karel Reisz

Arthur (Albert Finney) works in a Nottingham factory . He's not that happy in his job and he lives for the weekends, when he can drink heavily and frolic with the ladies. He's having with wicked way with Brenda (Rachel Roberts), a married woman. He's also got Doreen (Shirley Anne Field) on the go too. His life is complicated.

I'm not sure that films like this get made now, where the focus is on the lives of the working class. Maybe they still do and I'm too busy watching horror. The closest thing I can think of is All or Nothing by Mike Leigh but that's hardly mainstream. People lapped this up at the time. The comedy version of this would have to be Steptoe and Son. It's interesting to see that things haven't exactly changed that much in fifty odd years. After a hard week's work, Arthur gets so tanked that he falls down some stairs on his night out. Maybe they needed a minimum price for alcohol in the sixties too.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning falls into that delightful sub-genre of gritty films known as grime. I can't see that the dirt would be as palpably grimy if this had been shot in colour. Black and white suits it perfectly. The factory looks particularly grim and Health and Safety is non-existent. Despite the noise no-one wore ear protection and they probably didn't use step ladders properly either to get an item from a relatively low shelf. Little tinkers.

Arthur is amoral and anti-establishment. When he hears that one of his girlfriends is pregnant he kindly pays £40 for her to have a back street abortion. (He tries the free option first: his Aunt Ada, who pops the lady in a hot bath for three hours then gets her to drink a pint of gin. It doesn't work.) He also has a novel approach to dealing with nosy neighbours spreading lies (well, the truth really) about him. Some of his insults are pretty tasty too, most aimed at his rather rotund neighbour. Finney turns in a cracking performance, making a fairly unpleasant character likeable.

This isn't your typical Sunday afternoon black and white film. It was one of the first kitchen sink dramas. It got an X rating probably due to the way that it portrays the grubbier side of life. Still, it's only a PG now. Let's face facts, if Arthur was knocking about now, he'd be on Jeremy Kyle.

If you like this you could also try:
Vera Drake, All or Nothing, A Taste of Honey.

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