1960 - Dir.: Karel Reisz
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 31st January, 2004
The rebellious energy of post-war theatre's 'angry young man' erupted on screen in 1960 with Karel Reisz's radical drama "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning". Alan Sillitoe wrote the script based on his novel and an authentic working-class hero swaggered into the spotlight of British cinema for the first time. Arthur Seaton, first seen amid the noise of a Nottingham factory, is a young labourer who just wants to get through the week and raise hell at the weekend: "All I want is a good time. The rest is propaganda".
More recently seen flexing his charisma as Churchill in the BBC drama 'The Gathering Storm', Albert Finney's bravura performance as the embittered anti-hero was universally acclaimed. Crackling with fresh content and style, set to a jazz soundtrack by Johnny Dankworth, Reisz's film was an international success. It brought prestige to the British film industry and the profit enabled producer Harry Saltzman to buy the rights of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels.
"Don't let the bastards grind you down," is the message in this belligerent portrait of working class manhood - the film's gritty realism and honesty in its portrayal of ordinary young people's sexuality sent shock waves through the establishment. Before this film, the proletariat, especially "up north", was shown as poor and oppressed, poor and shiftless, or just poor and shameless. "Saturday Night" changed all that - the working man was allowed to be depicted not as an empty representative of his class and age, but a fully-fleshed person in his own right.
The great and the good clamoured to condemn this film almost as loudly as the public clamoured for tickets. An `X' certificate was reluctantly granted but our neighbours in Warwickshire were unable to see it because the County Council demanded substantial cuts. As far as we are aware the Warwickshire ban still stands!