In his first starring role, Albert Finney gained international acclaim for his impressive (TheNew Yorker) portrayal of Arthur Seaton, a rebellious factory worker who lives only for his wild, carefree nights at the pub. A... more » remarkable and influential drama that captures the despair of working class life, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is 'superbly enacted [and] one of the best ofBritain's 'angry young men dramas of the 60s. (Leonard Maltin). The sights and sounds of industrial Nottingham resonate with a grimy thud as Arthur Seaton works his tedious factory job. Through ale, women and practical jokes, he vents his frustrations against the establishments of work and marriage until his reckless ways lead him to a night that changes his life. Forced to reevaluate his convictions, Arthur must decide exactly what he stands for« less
Throughout the 1950s, a group of young British writers were referred to as "angry young men" because, in their novels and plays, they excoriated what they perceived to be the dominant materialistic values of their society following World War Two. They included playwrights John Osborne and Kingsley Amis and novelists John Braine, John Wain, and Alan Silitoe. This film is based on Silitoe's novel (same title) in which he focuses on Arthur Seaton (brilliantly portrayed by Albert Finney) who endures working in a factory all week so that he can afford to drink and chase women on Saturday evening. He lives (if that's the word) day-to-day, insisting "All I want is a good time. The rest is propaganda." Arthur is intelligent enough to know how to indulge his vices but lacks the wisdom to understand that he is drinking and wenching away what few prospects he has to improve his situation. It is unclear (at least to me) whether or not Arthur really wishes to do so. While continuing an affair with Brenda (Rachel Roberts), the bored and restless wife of his foreman/supervisor Jack (Bryan Pringle), Albert also becomes involved with Doreen Gretton (Shirley Ann Field) whose own ambitions seem limited to getting married and starting a family. Revealing to me is the fact that neither Arthur nor Brenda seems especially concerned about, much less rebellious against the limits imposed on them within their class-based industrial society.
Suffocation is one of the recurring themes in James Joyce's novels and short stories. I was reminded of that recently as I again observed Arthur's self-indulgent hedonism, indifference to the feelings of others, and callous betrayal of what little he has going for him. Sooner than he realizes, there will be only quiet evenings at home on Saturday. As for his Sundays, perhaps (just perhaps) they will include a moment when he wonders where his youth went as he wearily looks ahead to another dreary week in the local factory. Yes, "the sun also rises...." And then, what will its harsh light reveal?"
The Best British Film Ever
steve b | Dudley England | 01/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is one of a group of so called 'kitchen sink dramas' which dominated British cinema in the early sixties. What these films brought to the screen for the first time were realistic portrails of British and in particular English working class life. This to my mind was the golden age of British film making with pictures like, This Sporting Life, Billy Liar, A Kind of Loving, Alfie, Up the Junction and Kess showing ordinary people struggling to make the best of their lot. This mood was also reflected on British TV with shows like Z Cars, Play for Today and even the early Coronation Street.
The best of this genre is Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. One thing most of these films have in common is that the hero trys to escape the limitation of his working class background. In A Kind of Loving the hero escapes into music and the middle class, In Kes, Billy Kasper escapes his hopeless situation by training and flying his hawk. In this film however Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) sees no point in getting out. All he wants from life is to earn enough money to spend his weekends drinking and chasing women. Not that Arthur is unintelligent he just sees everything in life, politics, ambition and married life as phoney. Arthur wants to remain free of society's demand to comform either to marriage or to moving on and 'bettering himself'
Rachel Roberts and Shirley Ann Fields give great performances as Arthur's love or rather sex interest and Albert Finney is perfect as the cynical Arthur Seaton. The film ends with Arthur accepting marriage to Doreen (Fields) but telling her not to expect him to confirm all the time ( It will not be the last stone I will throw.)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning captures a certain time and place and for any American viewers who want to know, is it an accurate a portrail of working class sixties England? I can assure them that it is.
Apart from those films about Britain's Asian communities, no British film today shows the British working class with making out that all it contains are thieves, druggies and gangsters. The only exception being Mike Leigh's work.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a gem. A product of it's time and a piece of social history on a par with Dickens. "
Braggodocio...and the thumbing of the nose
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 06/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the film that put Finney on the map, as the saying goes, and for good reason. He's a great actor, but his performance is more than individual; it's also symbolic of some anger afoot in the UK at the time--i.e., the "angry young men". More specifically, the combination of Finney's sex appeal and braggodocio thumbs its nose at the stereotypical image of Great Britain as the stuffy, staid upholder of propriety and good manners and lords and ladies, et cetera.
His character, Arthur, is working class through and through, and it shows in every scene. He drinks and womanizes and plays tricks--mostly on older women he considers representative of stuffiness and stupidity. But he's callous himself--not stupid, but callous. This is really a slice of life movie that, more than anything else, portrays the British working class in the 1960s pretty much as they were. It's a great companion piece to another excellent British film, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner", also from the 1960s, and also featuring a young British actor making his debut, Tom Courtenay.
Finney is electric in his role. What's especially good about this film is that it doesn't so much copy or emulate American movies--in departing from the image of British culture as proper, etc.--as it presents an entirely new type of film, that reveals the day-to-day lives of British workers and societal hangers-on, those who can never take anything for granted.
Thumbing one's nose symbolically and cinematically here is producer Tony Richardson, who went on to direct Finney in "Tom Jones" (a masterpiece, I would say) and director Karel Reisz, a Polish-born Brit who went on to direct a number of other interesting films.
But the biggest nose-thumber of all here is Albert Finney. The ending is deeply ironic because we can see that in short order he'll give up his nose-thumbing ways and settle down with a cute girl who has no higher ambitions, basically, than he does. Will that last? Given Arther's character, it doesn't seem likely.
It's nice to see that Finney is still active in cinema. This debut is stunning and for sure well worth seeing."
Ultimate example of British Free Cinema
myrubybaby | 02/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson joined forces and created the most representative film about life in England?s industrial north of the 60?s. Albert Finney will always be remembered for his powerful performance as a young factory worker who rebels against his humdrum life and the social establishments.
This characteristic British Free Cinema film is a must for any serious film collection.
Poor DVD packaging though. Noextras whatsoever, unfortunately."
Finney Explodes On the Screen With a Vengeance
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 06/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" is one of the finest examples of cinema that emerged in Britain from the late Fifties and early Sixties. For sure there is a lot of despair on display here but there is also a glimmer of hope for happiness. Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney), stuck in a meaningless job with little hope for advancement beyond his class, doesn't so much lash out but engages in wreckless and self-destructive behavior. He drinks to excess, he carries on affair with a meek co-worker's wife (Rachel Roberts), he torments a busy-body neighbor with an air gun, he teases the ladies at his plant with a dead rat. Arthur isn't so much angry just stifled. The best chance for redemption is the love of a working-class girl, Doreen (Shirley-Anne Field). Arthur just basically has to do some growing up and brush off the inequities of class-conscious Britain. Finney absolutely mesmerizes in his starring debut. For sure, Arthur engages in some outrageous behavior, but Finney never overplays it. Director Karel Reisz perfectly captures the grimy working class milieu. Essential viewing. On a final note, when are they going to properly re-issue Lindsay Anderson's "This Sporting Life" with Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts, another fine example of British film from the early Sixties."