13 July 2008 | blanche-2
Albert Finney's star-making role
Albert Finney is Arthur, a working-class Brit who lives for "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" in this 1960 film also starring Rachel Roberts, Hylda Baker and Shirley Anne Field. It's impossible to believe that Albert Finney was ever that young, but he was - 24 in this film - robust and handsome. He plays a factory worker who hates his job and lives with his family. His life revolves around his weekends, when he drinks himself into oblivion and sees his married girlfriend Brenda (Roberts). Roberts is married to one of his co-workers. One day, he meets the beautiful Doreen (Shirly Anne Field) and starts to court her. Then Brenda becomes pregnant with his child.
This film was considered quite shocking at the time of its release because of its frank sexual situations and the freely-discussed topic of abortion. These themes aren't shocking anymore, but one reason for that is the introduction of them in films like this. Shot in black and white, it gives the viewer a picture of life in a bleak factory town, portrayed very realistically by director Karl Reisz. The actors are these people, they're not merely playing them. This is especially true of Finney, who sports a low-class accent and epitomizes the "angry young man" so prevalent in the late '50s. Finney's performance as a young man who takes out his work-week aggression on women, booze and mischief, is as revolutionary as Dean's or Brando's was in American cinema.
Finney is ably backed up by the supporting actors. Roberts is very effective as Brenda, a housewife married to a dull man, and Shirley Anne Field even dressed down is gorgeous as the ingénue who wins Arthur's heart and makes him look at the future. One wonders if he'll ever grow up sufficiently. She's going to have her hands full.
The dialect is very authentic and difficult to understand at times - I actually used my closed captioning. The dialect adds to the whole atmosphere of "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," another of the rebel movies but in a class all by itself.